1966 Lola T70 Mk2 Spyder
This stunning Lola T70 Spyder was raced by F1 World Champion and double Can-Am Champion Denny Hulme.
The legendary Kiwi raced SL71/31 for Sid Taylor Racing in the British Sportscar Championship and Can-Am Series
1966 British Sportscar Championship winner with 5 victories at Snetterton, Mallory Park, Oulton Park (Tourist Trophy) and Silverstone (twice)
Lola’s 2nd version of their T70 Spider, known as the MkII was an evolution of its forerunner, but with significant improvements. The biggest difference was in its monocoque chassis. Instead of having an aluminium to steel ratio of 40% alloy to 60% steel, the MkII used much more aluminium with a 85% alloy, to 15% steel ratio in the sheet metal used. The panels were also riveted together instead of being spot welded. The cars were prepared to Group 7 regulations which essentially had very few performance limitations and were very much in vogue at the time. Cars from this category were the fastest sports racers available and could race in new categories both in England and the USA.
SL71/31 was bought new by Sid Taylor for New Zealand star Denny Hulme to drive. Sid Taylor was the team patron, with business interests in a construction company and the renowned Steering Wheel Club. Hulme was one of New Zealand’s two top drivers and at the top of his game when signed up by Taylor. Of a generation who raced in a wide variety of cars and categories all over the world, ‘The Bear’ as he was known was fast in everything.
1966 proved to be arguably one of his finest seasons in which he clinched not just the Formula One World Championship but also the British Sportscar Championship. At this time the latter series was a highly competitive series catering for sports racing cars. The starting grids were a who’s who of the finest drivers, from John Surtees, Jackie Ickx, Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill to Brian Redman, Chris Amon, Richard Attwood, David Piper and Frank Gardner to name a few. Sid Taylor recruited highly capable engineer Ron Bennett to prepare his brand new T70 MkII for Hulme (and on occasion Richard Attwood, Roy Pierpoint and Tony Lanfranchi, plus Taylor himself). Bennett had engineered cars for Team Elite at Le Mans, winning the Index of Thermal Efficiency multiple times, before briefly working for Midland Racing Partnership in F1.
The first round of the British Sportscar Series was the Scott-Brown Memorial Trophy at Snetterton in April. Hulme started 2nd behind Graham Hill, but went on to score the his first victory with SL71/31, beating Chris Amon and Richard Attwood. Round 2 was the famous RAC Tourist Trophy, which took place at Oulton Park. Hulme again dominated covering 622km (140 laps) at an impressive average speed of 151km/h to beat Tony Dean and Peter Sutcliffe. The International Daily Express Trophy Meeting at Silverstone hosted round 3, which saw Hulme score a hat-trick of wins in front of Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren. The fast circuit Mallory Park was the venue for round 4, the Grovewood Trophy. Hulme took his 4th straight win in front of Peter Sutcliffe and David Piper. Hulme cemented his utter dominance by taking his 5th straight victory with SL71/31 at the Martini Trophy, held at Silverstone. Here he beat Bob Bondurant and David Hobbs to the flag. Hulme skipped the Wills Trophy at Croft and retired from the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch with engine failure.
SL71/31 was also driven by both its owner Sid Taylor plus talented Brits Richard Attwood and Tony Lanfranchi. Taylor took his car to 2nd in an April Formula Libre race at Mallory Park, won another Formula Libre race at Phoenix Park in July and finished 4th in the Gold Flake handicap also at the same circuit. Attwood drove Taylor’s steed in the British GP support race at Brands Hatch, but retired with a puncture. Lanfranchi meanwhile drove the T70 in a race at Castle Combe (retiring, though lowering the lap record), before winning a Formula Libre race at the circuit, further lowering the lap record in the process. In all SL71/31 took 4 outright circuit lap records with Hulme behind the wheel at Snetterton, Silverstone, Oulton Park and Mallory Park, with Tony Lanfranchi going on to clinch two more at Castle Combe and Phoenix Park.
Taylor then shipped SL71/31 to America in order for Hulme to compete with it in rounds 4-6 of the inaugural Can-Am Championship. However Hulme didn’t enjoy quite the same level of reliability and therefore success as he did across the pond. Mosport yielded a retirement thanks to driveshaft failure. Laguna Seca was a bit better with a 5th in heat 1 but a retirement in heat 2. Another retirement came at Riverside when Hulme’s clutch failed and to cap off a poor run of reliability the gearbox failed at Las Vegas. Sid Taylor had plans to purchase a Ford GT40 and Lola T70 Mk3 Coupe for the 1967 season and so he sold SL71/31 to John Scott-Davies, who soon after emigrated to Australia, taking his newly acquired Lola with him. The car had barely arrived in Australian when Scott-Davies entered it in the Surfers Paradise International 12 Hours. However a dropped valve in practice meant the car didn’t start the race. A gentleman named Denis Geary then purchased it and fitted a coupe body in order to use it as a GT car on the road. One can only imagine the sight it must have been blurring past stunned Australian motorists!
6 years, and presumably many exhilarating road kms later, Geary sold the car to Matt Carrol, a film producer from Sydney. Carrol then had Kevin Shearer restore the car to it’s original specification between 1980-83. Carroll raced the car four times in Australian historic races up to 1989, before it was purchased by Nigel Hulme and returned to the UK. In 1995 it was acquired by famous Belgian driver Jean Blaton (Beurlys) who raced it twice in the Paul Ricard 24 Hour historic events. In recent years the car was campaigned several times at Goodwood enjoying a podium on one occasion. Today SL71/31 presents in superb condition and is arguably being one of the most original T70 MKII Spiders. It would fit perfectly into any discerning collection and is highly eligible for the Goodwood Revival Whitsun Trophy, Members’ Meeting Surtees’ Trophy and Peter Auto’s Classic Endurance Racing 1 series.