The ex-Mecom/'Simoniz Racing'/Ron Grable
1966 Lola T70 MkII GT Coupe
Chassis no. SL71/39
* 355-cid Chevrolet V8
* LG600 Hewland transaxle
* 48mm Weber carburetors
* Period Can-Am history
* Restored to Mark III GT bodywork
* Professionally restored & race prepared
* Zero racing miles
* Eligible for a wide range of vintage events
The immensely successful T70 marked Lola Cars as a serious player in the international big-bore sports-racing arena. Eric Broadley's first designs were smaller, innovative cars that proved quite successful, and he looked for new opportunities. After his mid-engined Lola Mk. 6 GT coupes with Ford Fairlane V8 power showed their potential at LeMans in 1963, Ford took note, hiring Broadley to oversee what was to become its landmark GT40 program. Soon after leaving that effort, Broadley decided to further develop the mid-engined theme and build cars for the much less-restricted Group 7...thus the T70 was born.
This new model, introduced in early 1965, was a steel-reinforced aluminum monocoque with double wishbone and coil-spring/shock suspension front and rear. A close examination of the T70's brakes reveals their unusual placement: The front discs are mounted so as to receive maximum cooling air rather than being hidden inside the wheels. The body was of fiberglass, and it proved quite aerodynamic; at one time the T70 Spyder was considered the fastest racing car in the world, and that included the Formula 1 machinery of the day. The T70 was designed from the start to accommodate large-displacement American V8 engines, including Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, and Ford, although a few chassis were fitted with such exotica as Aston Martin and BRM, which proved unsuccessful. 15 Mk.1 "Spiders" were constructed, quickly followed by 33 Mk. 2 versions, and finally the Mk.3, 31 of which were built in both open and closed configuration. The Mk.3B series comprised four Spiders and 22 Mk.3B GT coupes (plus two spare chassis).
An early customer was reigning F1 World Champion John Surtees, who drove his Chevrolet-powered T70 Mk.2 to three wins in six races of the 1966 Canadian-American Challenge to secure the Championship. That feat brought much attention to Lola, and sales of the Group 7 T70 Spiders took off. The last iteration of the T70 was aimed at Group 4, which required a minimum of 50 completed cars for homologation, but most importantly, a closed body. The T70 Mk.3 GT coupe emerged in 1967 as a real threat in Group 4. The body shape proved to be very stable at high speeds, and ambitious teams could race the car in both categories merely by changing the body.
SL71/39 is the 24th chassis in the Mk. 2 series, originally delivered as a Spider in August, 1966, to American oilman and Lola importer John Mecom. According to Lola historian John Starkey, the car was eventually sold to Carl Haas, who had taken over distribution. Haas kept it as a back-up for his Simoniz-sponsored team of Mk. 3s campaigned by Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott. Entered but not raced at Road America in 1968, it was sold again, this time to club racer Duane Zinola, who drove it at Riverside, finishing 5th at that year's Runoffs. It was then sold to Ron Grable, who drove it just once, at the Edmonton round of the 1968 Can-Am series, where it DNF'd with clutch failure. In October, 1969, Grable offered the car for sale with a Traco-rebuilt 366-cubic inch Chevrolet engine.
It was acquired by amateur driver John Williamson, who entered it at the 1969 Laguna Seca Can-Am, but was disqualified for being too slow. After failing to qualify for the Riverside round, Williamson handed over the seat to Lou Pavesi, who qualified but would drop out of the race with a blown tire. Williamson later ran SL71/39 at several club-level races. The car was eventually purchased by Mac McClendon and restored in 2004. Its current owner converted the car to Mk.3B coupe specifications. This handsome Lola T70 racing coupe is currently fitted with a 355-cid cubic inch Chevrolet engine, 48mm Weber carburetors, and a Hewland LG600 transaxle.
The car is eligible for a broad range of North American historic races, and with the substitution of a Spider body, could be welcomed on the grids of several European Group 7 vintage events.
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