Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sloter Lola T70 Spyder Mosport 1967

Sports car constructor Lola has been in the business of building race cars for fifty years now. One of their most iconic designs is the T70. It’s origins lie with the Lola Mk VI which was a mid-engined Ford powered fastback. This car competed at LeMans in 1963 and while it suffered with gearbox issues, it was able to record the second-fastest lap of the race with only three gears working. This got the attention of Henry Ford, who had recently had his merger talks spurned by Ferrari and who was ready to seek revenge on the race track. He contracted Eric Broadley, the founder of Lola, to work for the next 18 months on a Ford powered collaboration which resulted in the GT40. The rest is history: the Mk VI derived GT40 won LeMans in 1966, ’68, and ’69. This contract funded the stabilization of Lola cars and 1965 they introduced the T70.

The car was quick out of the box with the T70 besting the lap record at Silverstone by 7s. The car was a coupe design with a semi-monocoque chassis and Chevrolet power. By 1966 the T70 was revised to a Spyder configuration as the T70 Mk II. Since the motor was not a stressed member of the chassis privateers had some flexibility in terms of powerplant selection. Some would fit Ford motors in place of the standard Traco built Chevy unit. This car quickly racked up victories in the USRRC and CanAm series including wins by John Surtees and Mark Donohue. Even though Surtees scored the inaugural 1966 CanAm championship driving a T70 Mk II Lola cars would see only three other CanAm victories as McLaren and Porsche took turns dominating the series.

The car as depicted by SCX competed in the third CanAm race of the 1967 season at Mosport. This car was driven to fifth by Roger McCluskey behind the fourth place T70 of Peter Revson and a trio of McLarens on the podium. These awesome CanAm machines were clocked at over 180 mph on Mosport’s long uphill back straight.

Sloter’s T70 is beautifully presented in it’s cookie-tin case. The rear deck is fixed in the open position revealing a fully detailed engine compartment. The cockpit is also chock full of detail: instruments, switchgear, and shift linkage. While the Sloter Lola arrives without a driver, a bagged figure is provided should you want to put one behind the wheel. High detail level aside, what Sloter has managed to accomplish with this model is to package an HO motor inside the model’s motor in the engine bay turning what would otherwise be a stunning static model into a slot car.

On track the performance of this car is mild. Even though the tires are slightly cupped the car handles smoothly. There isn’t enough torque in the HO motor to push a traction magnet around the track in this car so none is provided. Initial testing at Mini Grid’s Maxport II circuit yielded an 11.2s lap time. After circulating for a while I noticed that the car started slowing down with the lap times gradually increasing. The motor felt warm to the touch. After allowing the car to cool off I lubricated the rear bushings, adjusted the braids, and ran a few more laps. I was able to get my lap time down to 10.2s. This puts it in the zone with the NINCO Ferrari 250TR (10.1s), Pink Kar Ferrari 250 GTO (10.2s), Monogram Porsche 550 Spyder (10.3s), and Scalextric Ford GT40 (10.3s).

I really like Sloter’s T70 Mk II. While it is a mild performer, it’s a blast to race against similarly powered cars. The detail on this car is second to none and is really what one is paying for here. Truing the car’s tires on a Hudy or similar tire grinder (off the car), and making sure the drivetrain is properly lubricated will help purchasers get the most out of their car. I’d love to see Sloter make a less detailed version of this model using an S or FF can motor for power. This would allow their stunning T70 race against Fly Classics. If you like lower powered non-magnet cars then this is certainly one to consider.

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