Lola T70


ERIC BROADLEY'S 1965 sports/racing car design, the Lola. Type 70, could be described as the latest in a line of successful 2-seat competition machines, which has been interrupted at intervals by relatively unsuccessful single-seaters. By the time these words are in print Indianapolis may conceivably have changed all that, but new cars seldom win first time out.
It was in 1956 that the Lola line of sports/ racing 2-seaters was founded, Eric Broadley designing a car which he could drive himself in the " British 1172 Formula" races, which provided inexpensive racing by standardizing L-head British Ford 1172-cc engines with restricted tuning modifications. So well did this first Lola perform in races during 1957 that Broadley quickly became more ambitious, and for 1958 he applied his ideas on tubular steel space frames to a new sports car with a 1098-cc Coventry Climax overhead-cam engine.
In its turn, this second Lola proved so fast and so stable that other drivers wanted replicas, and Broadley decided to become a full-time rather than a part-time car builder, selling cars for the 1959 season. The front-engined Lola of 1958-9 typified two of its designer's special talents: its chassis was a structure planned in three dimensions to provide strength just where it was needed without excess weight or untidy after-thought brackets, and its suspension systems controlled road wheel alignment with great precision.
?As a small-scale racing car manufacturer with little spare time for driving his own products on the circuits, Eric Broadley began to build the types of car which his customers ordered, starting his less successful interlude as a designer of single-seaters. His Lola Formula Junior cars of 1960 were front-engined, and began racing just when lighter mid-engined cars of smal1er frontal area achieved domination of the category, and although the front-engined Lolas added interest to the F-Jr scene they won places rather than races. A mid-engined Lola Jr which followed for 1961 did not quite catch up with the best of its opposition, nor did the midengined Lola Formula I single-seaters which John Surtees and Roy Salvadori drove in Grand Prix races during 1962.
For the 1963 season, Eric Broadley's inspiration was to build a mid-engined two-seat GT coupe of minimum size and weight around a Ford Fairlane V-8 engine. This plan was highly ambitious for a smal1- scale car builder working in a country where most of the available components were suited to much less powerful machinery. Nevertheless, an incomplete prototype appeared at London's Racing Car Show in January 1963, and at the Le Mans 24-hour race in June made second fastest lap in the race at over 127 mph, before being slowed by gear-box problems and eventually crashing.
Having failed in its bid for the Ferrari works, Ford Motor Company saw in the performance of the Ford-powered Lola GT a real probability that, improved with Ford help, this car might become a world-beater. Eric Broadley. was offered a 12-month contract, moved into a new plant at Slough, and by April 1964 had the first Ford GT ready for its public unveiling. Publicity for this project seemed at one time to be aimed at concealing the design's true authorship, the astonishing statement being made that "the original design had been conceived at Dearborn" whereas, in truth, the transition from Lola GT to Ford GT had been strictly evolutionary.
As shown in January 1963 and subsequently raced, the Lola GT exploited the misnamed "monocoque" form of construction which had been used on two of the works Lotus F-I single seaters during 1962 Grand Prix races. Two big box-sections of sheet steel which formed the body sills were also the chassis side members, replacing the multi-tubular structures which had been in fashion for some years previously: a stressed floor panel as well as front and rear bulkheads joined the two box-sections together, to form a very strong pontoon inside of which were the two seats.
In its original Lola GT form, the steel pontoon carried multi-tubular extension frames, one at the front to accommodate the suspension and another as a superstructure to support the fiberglass body panels. As the design later evolved into the Ford GT, these frame extensions were fabricated in sheet steel instead of from tubes, and the fiberglass bodywork became subtly changed in shape as the results of wind tunnel testing and then of further racing experience were applied to it.
Suspension of the Ford GT, now called the GT-40, which scored the model's first big victory at Daytona in 1965, was strictly on the lines laid down for the Lola GT in the winter of 1962-63. At the front, tubular steel upper and lower A-arms are swept forward, and coil springs are mounted on the tube shocks. At the rear, each wheel suspension linkage has a reversed low-set wishbone controlling track and alignment, an upper transverse link controlling camber, and two long fore-and-aft thrust links, the lower of which runs up inside the frame's huge box-section. Like the Lola before it, the GT-40 has a strong roof frame even though the tops of two big doors curve over toward the roof centerline, and crash-resistant stowages for two flexible bag fuel tanks inside the frame's steel box sections.
Other things such as horsepower being equal, the smallest and lightest car which is reliable and controllable wins the races: When several rival car builders have access to the same types of engine, as is the case with Ford and other V-8
units in this 1965 season, cars must be pared down to a. minimum. The Ford GT-40 is being built to be fit for street use and to survive long-distance day-and-night events such as the 24-hour race at LeMans, but a Lotus 30 of lower weight would be faster in most short-distance races for which it is eligible. This latter featherweight 2-seater represents the sort of challenge which Eric Broadley has set out to meet in going on from his GT desi"gns to make a batch of Lola 70 sports racing cars.
Eric Broadley's one-year contract with Ford expired in the summer of 1964, and since then there have been two quite separate plants alongside one another at Slough Trading Estate, one owned by Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd. which has ex-Aston Martin Director John Wyer in charge, and the other owned by Lola Cars Ltd., with Eric Broadley as boss. For this 1965 season, Eric Broadley's projects included a new Formula Junior car which got crowded aside by the more exciting invitation to build Indianapolis cars around 4-camshaft Ford engines, and the Lola 70 which extrapolates a lighter, open-bodied car from the Lola-Ford GT layout.
Currently, the minimum possible size of a car such as the Lola 70 seems to be determined less by the driver or the engine than by the huge tires which are used to turn horsepower into traction. Vast areas of rubber supporting lightweight cars are tending to float on wet surfaces instead of cutting through the water film. This "aquaplaning" makes the European tradition of continuing races in bad weather look remarkably dangerous, but on dry surfaces the broad modern tires provide real grip. At the front of the Lola 70 there are racing tires of 5.50-15 nominal size on rims 8 in. wide, and the rear tires of 6.50-15 section, when mounted on rims of 10-in. width, are actually 12.5 in. wide! A track of only 54 in. becomes an overall car width of 69 in. with these tires, dimensions identical to those of the Ford GT, although the Lola is a lower car with an overall height of only 31 in.
Working as his own boss once again without having to get decisions approved by members of a huge organization, Eric Broadley has evolved a chassis frame for the J 965 Lola 70. He claims it weighs less than half' as much as the hull of a
Ford GT, although both cars have the same 95-in. wheel-base.
At a glance the pontoon chassis of a Lola 70 looks very much a,kin to a Ford GT hull without its roof framing, but in fact it contains only a fraction of the amount of steel which goes into each Ford GT-40. Each end of the new chassis consists of a one-piece steel "ring" cross frame on which the suspension loads are carried, and these two steel rings are linked together by two steel sheets which form the inner surfaces of box-section chassis side members. This steelwork is welded up, then reinforced with riveted-on aluminum panels to make an extremely rigid section.
Outboard of the steel plate at each side of the Lola 70, there is an aluminum tank of D-section which holds 30 U.S. gal. of fuel. This tank is attached to the steel plate by rivets. A narrow space between the steel plate and the aluminum
upright of the D-section tank accommodates the coolant pipes to and from a front radiator, and is filled with foam plastic to form a sandwich stiffening the two flat metal panels. An aluminum body floor panel braces the two box-section side members of the car, as do two triangular-section boxes of aluminum sheet which respectively support the cushions and reclining backrest of the two seats.
Behind the driving seat backrest is an engine compartment which can accommodate any of a variety of V -8 engines and their transaxles. Car dimensions have not been inflated to suit the largest engines, but naturally the big V -8 Ford engines are, suitable, and John Surtees has been racing the first Lola 70 with a Traco-modified Chevrolet engine. This latter uses four side-draft Weber 2-barrel carburetors instead of downdraft instruments, so does not involve vertical air intakes rising like steamer smoke stacks above the low body deck. Most of the cars are being built around the Hewland 4-speed transaxle, the Colotti unit having proved unequal to the loadings which recent engines impose. The first examples of a light and compact ZF 5-speed transaxle to become available were put into the Indianapolis singleseaters, although that banked oval track was expected to require the use of three ratios only.
Having encountered brake cooling problems on the Ford GT, Eric Broadley has taken care to get the Girling brake discs of his Lola 70 as well clear of the wheel rims as possible, into positions where plenty of cooling air can reach them. His front discs are of "top hat" shape with the caliper so far inboard that the steering/ suspension ball joint on the tip of each lower wishbone is almost entirely hidden inside the brake. At the back of the Lola 70, the brake discs have been moved inboard behind the box-section light alloy hub carriers, to a position on the outer ends of two-joint wheel driving shafts. Magnesium alloy wheels with six spokes have been cast to a design which permits the passage of brake cooling air, and for short races a 6-bolt wheel is used.
There are no revolutionary suspension features on the Lola 70, merely a little more precision in the application of known design principles. Twin wishbones at each front corner have accurate roller-bearing pivots rather than the rubber bushes used in mass-production automobiles, and have been redesigned to be even more rigid than those on the Ford GT. At each rear corner of the Lola, the lower wishbone which carries the main traction and cornering. forces is strongly triangulated, and a very short upper transverse link is used. At each corner of the car, a tube shock carries a coil spring and also an Aeon hollow rubber buffer.
At this moment, the competitive situation among the American-engined cars which are challenging Ferraris in sports and GT racing looks incredibly exciting, and until a new 3-liter formula takes full effect the Grand Prix races are liable to be overshadowed by faster events for 2-seat cars! The midships-engine layout is now universal, but in other respects design is in a state of flux, the two locally built rivals to Britain's pontoon-chassis Lola 70 being the McLaren Elva with multiple-tube space frame, and the Lotus 30, which has a backbone frame forking to enclose its engine. This season's races for big sports cars will be fast and, with limited crash protection for fuel tanks and for drivers,
perhaps more than usually dangerous.

back to index

Le Mans Cars from the 60ies onwards

312 Ferrari

650 Matra

908 Porsche

917 Porsche

904 Porsche

956 Porsche

Alfa 33

220 Alpine

Author: ArchitectPage