Lola has over the years built various types of race cars. They were one of the major chassis suppliers to the Can-Am.
There were six races in the inaugural Can-Am season. Five were won by men driving Lola T70s. Mark Donohue won one race, Dan Gurney one race, and John Surtees (Team Surtees was the official factory, or “works”, team) won three — including the series opener at St. Jovite, Quebec, on September 11 — plus the championship. Donohue’s and Surtees’ were powered by Chevy V8s (which became THE engine to use in the Can- Am), while Gurney’s victory would be the only one by a Ford powered car in the history of the series.
Originally designed in 1965, the Mk2 version of the T70 was used in 1966. With an aluminum monocoque chassis and a rounded and flowing body shape, the T70 was an attractive looking car with good aerodynamics for the time. A popular car, over 100 T70s were built between 1965 and 1967.
Surtees won one race in 1967, in a failed attempt to retain his title. As in 1966, the T70 was Lola’s Can- Am chassis. Having gone through two more updates, the latest was designated T70 Mk3B.
In 1968, the latest Can-Am Lola was the T160. Team Surtees, no longer the official Lola “factory” team, still fielded a Lola, but so heavily modified that it was called a T160TS. (The “TS” for Team Surtees.) One of the modifications was the addition of a wing high above the car’s rear bodywork. (Rear wings, pioneered by Jim Hall and his Chaparral team, generate aerodynamic downforce to help hold the car on the track.) Power for the Surtees car, and most others, came from a 427 Chevy. Lola founder and designer Eric Broadley, described the T160 as a simpler, stronger, lighter T70. Best finishes for the Lola T160s were a pair of fourths — one by Sam Posey and one by Swede Savage. The best Lola finish in 1968 was a second by George Follmer in a T70.
1969 saw Lola deliver the T162 and T163. These Lolas were updates of the T160. The best Lola driver this year was Chuck Parsons who’s managed four podium finishes — three thirds and a second but no wins — in his T163.
While Lola sold T165s (updated T163s) to customers in 1970, Carl Haas’ works team entered a T220 and T222 for Peter Revson. The T220 was wrecked in mid-season and replaced with the T222. The T220 and T222 were identical except for the wheelbase which went from 88 inches to 98 inches. These cars were completely new designs, owing little to previous Lolas. Revson’s best finishes were a second and a pair of thirds, but older Lolas finished in the top 6 several times.
1971 saw a resurrection of Lola’s fortunes. World Driving Champion Jackie Stewart drove the new, radical, L&M sponsored T260. Instead of having a wide, sloping, wedge-like nose (as most Can-Am cars had), the T260 had a very narrow, short, rounded one. The theory was that the nose shape would help the T260 “bullet” down the straights
and keep it stable as aerodynamic conditions changed (turbulence, cresting a hill, cornering). As it tuned out, on some high speed tracks, a wing was mounted in front of the nose to increase downforce. Stewart garnered one pole (top qualifying position), one “fastest lap”, two wins (in 10 races), and third in the championship standings.
Just as 1971 had been up, 1972 was down for Lola. The T310 was a radical departure from the T260. The T310 was longer, lower, and wider, with an almost flat (except for the wheel wells) nose. Although developed using a wind tunnel, it was too-little/too-late, as the project started late and didn’t get sufficient track testing. Driver David Hobbs best finish was a fourth, but any finish above seventh was rare.
1972 was the last year in the Can-Am for Lola Cars. Although a few older Lolas continued racing in the final two years of the series, the T310 was the last factory Can-Am Lola.