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  Lola T310 Chevrolet
 

  Article Image gallery (30) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1972
Numbers built:1 (Plus a spare chassis)
Designed by:Eric Broadley / Specialised Mouldings
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 21, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWinning three races in his Chevrolet engined Lola T70, John Surtees was crowned the inaugural Can-Am (Canadian-American Challenge) champion. Two of the other three races of the 1966 championship were also won by Lolas. A year later Surtees only managed to win a single race. He struggled with his privately entered T70 against the factory McLarens. In the following seasons Lolas would be present on the grids in big numbers but were left to pick up the scraps left by the dominant factory teams.

With strong backing from the L&M tobacco brand, Lola's American importer Carl Haas commissioned the construction of a brand new car for 1970. A highly conventional machine, the new T220 came very close to upstage the McLarens in the talented hands of Peter Revson. Encouraged by the results, Lola's founder Eric Broadley developed yet another new car for the 1971 season. This T260 was far from conventional and incorporated some advanced aerodynamics. Haas's quasi-works team signed Formula 1 World Champion Jackie Stewart to drive. It paid off big time with the Scotsman claiming pole twice and more importantly winning two races.

Even though Carl Haas had been successful in 1971, he lost the L&M backing to Team Penske who were fielding the brand new Turbocharged Porsche 917 in 1972. Haas remained loyal and requested the third new Lola in as many years. Stewart may have been very fast and victorious in the T260, he also complained consistently about understeer. Desperate measures like a 'cow-catcher' front wing did not cure the problem and the stubby Lola gradually lost ground as the season went on. So it was no surprise that Broadley once again started from zilch. The difference between his 1971 and 1972 designs was almost bigger than night and day.

Where the T260 had been short and stout, the subsequent T310 was long and very low. The shape was developed together with body constructor Specialized Mouldings in a windtunnel. The purpose of all the effort was to get a design that would create enough downforce without excessive drag. The broad, pointy nose served as one big scoop, forcing air to run over the body, which increased downforce. The body itself was draped very tightly over the mechanicals. The rear wing was mounted well behind the body and relatively low to reduce the drag.

Underneath the well thought out body, the T310 followed in the foot-steps of the previous Lola Can-Am cars. This meant that the aluminium monocoque was full length. In most other designs of the day the tub ended behind the passenger compartment with the engine suspended in a subframe or mounted stressed. The T310 chassis was among the longest and widest ever seen in Can-Am. The overall height of the car was further reduced by mounting the engine at a slide angle. The suspension was carried over from the T220 production car, the T222 that was built alongside the T260 in 1971.

Haas committed to the 1972 Can-Am very late and the T310 wasn't ready until the second race of the year. All-rounder David Hobbs was signed to drive the single entry and he faced the daunting task of developing the car during the season. Making things more difficult was the fact that the small team faced the might of McLaren and Penske-Porsche. The advanced aerodynamics did not work as well as hoped and a lot of time was spent to get it right. Eventually large fins were mounted on the front fenders to get more downforce. Even though it did bring Hobbs closer to the competition, the improvements did not turn the T310 in a winner. A fourth at Watkins Glen after all Porsches had retired would be the best result.

The 1972 season had been dominated by the Penske Team and their 'Turbo-Panzer.' For a small manufacturer like Lola taking on the $2 million operation was virtually impossible and no new car was built. The British company instead focused on small displacement racing cars that were raced across Europe with considerably success and in a very large numbers. This left the T310 as the last of a successful range of Lola Can-Am cars.

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  Article Image gallery (30) Chassis (2) Specifications