1966 Lola T70 Mark II Spyder
Chassis no. SL71/22
Chevrolet 355ci V8
Hewland LG500 transaxle
Documented period Can-Am history
Desirable Mk II Spyder bodywork
Lola's T70 Spyders in Mk I and Mk II specification were some of the most successful sports racers offered by the prolific British firm. Designed for both FIA Group 7 and Group 9 categories, T70 Spyders filled the grids of both European and American races through the mid-1960s, and proved dominant for several years. Walt Hansgen put the T70 on the map, winning the 1965 Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca with a John Mecom-entered T70-Ford. Ex-F1 World Champion John Surtees drove the first Lola T70 Mk I to the 1966 Can-Am series title, winning five of six events, and demand for the car took off. Eventually, over a hundred examples would be sold. First constructed on an aluminum monocoque - steel bulkheads were used after the early alloy units proved insufficient to cope with suspension loads - most were powered by Chevrolet V8 engines of both the small-block and big-block variety although they could be ordered with other motors.
This Spyder, chassis number SL71/22, was built to Group 7 specifications with a Ford 4.7-liter V8 engine and a Hewland LG500 gearbox. It was the seventh of 32 Mk II Spyders to leave the Lola factory, being shipped on the 12th of January, 1966 to Mecom, the Southwest US Lola distributor, arriving in Texas a week later. The car was to have been sold to Southern California racing driver Rick Muther, but Muther declined to take delivery, instead pursuing other interests.
Records indicate that SL71/22 was instead sold to Norman Smith of Ventura, California, a noted racer of smaller-displacement Porsches. Originally painted white, Smith re-sprayed the bodywork yellow and replaced the Ford motor with a Chevrolet small block of 5.3 liters displacement. With backing by Joehnk Chevrolet Components and emblazoned with stickers promoting Ronald Reagan for Governor of California on its nose and flanks, Smith raced this chassis but twice; his first effort being the fourth round of the 1966 Canadian-American Challenge Series. At the 200-mile, two-heat contest at Laguna Seca on October 16, Smith struggled to come to terms with the powerful car, placing 14th on aggregate after ending 18th in Heat 1 and 16th in Heat 2.
The team entered but skipped the next race, the high-speed Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside, but a month later, Smith ran his Lola at the Can-Am's Round 6 at Stardust Raceway in Las Vegas. After gridding 29th of 33 starters, Smith was a DNF after running wide exiting a corner, smashing through a fence, and striking a parked car. Smith was unhurt, but the tub was seriously bent.
Smith took the car home and stripped it of its undamaged parts. After acquiring another T70 chassis (SL71/47) he advertised both for sale, along with the parts. Roger Penske bought the newer tub, but not the damaged No. 22 or its parts. Instead, Smith reportedly repaired the damaged chassis as best he could, reinstalled the undamaged suspension pieces, and offered the whole package, along with a trailer.
SL71/22 next reappeared in the mid-1970s, complete but not in running condition. It was used as a display vehicle in the Los Angeles area. In 1986, the car passed to Lilo Beuzieron, who began a restoration before trading it to well-known Lola restoration specialist Mac McClendon of Santa Ana, California, who re-skinned the tub around its original steel bulkhead rings. In early 2012, McClendon sold the car, still under restoration, to the current owner, a vintage race car collector who in turn had the restoration completed, with the body being returned to its original color of white.
With its documented competition history, this attractive and period-correct Lola T70 Mk II should be eligible for vintage races both in North America and Europe.
- Please note that this vehicle is offered on a Bill of Sale.