Sold for $150,000 at 2008 Bonhams
Eric Broadley was a designer, constructor, and a brilliant businessman. He had no factory or even factory-back team; rather he relied on customers exclusively.
One very exciting and challenging arena for the Lola-based cars was the Canadian-American Challenge Cup series (CanAm). Two early competitors in the series were Roger Penske and Mark Donoue. They finished second in the series' first year, 1966, and tying for third in 1967. Both 1966 and 1967 they drove Lola T70s. In 1967, the team won the Road Racing Championship with six victories out of the seven races.
In 1968, the team switched to a McLaren chassis. The McLaren cars were fast and often set the pace of the race. Competing with a customer McLaren car was difficult for the Penske/Donohue team, as they had to compete with the factory McLaren team.
For 1969, a deal was made with Lola to use its chassis for both oval track and road racing. The T70 had evolved over time and it was now a truly refined automobile; it was dubbed the T163.
The 1969 season was extremely busy for Penske and Donohue, as they competed in a Trans Am Camaro, Lola T152 and T150 for the USAC oval races, a new T70 MkIII for endurance races and the improved open T163 for Can-Am. Penske wanted more from the T163 and requested that Lola built a special extra lightweight version just for his team. Broadley was hesitant, but complied. He created a unique lightweight tub.
Due to a busy schedule, the Penske team was not able to have the car ready for the first Can-Am races. With little preparation and testing time under its belt, the car made its debut at Mid-Ohio in August. The car handled poorly and later broke a half shaft in practice and another in qualifying. Still, Donohue had qualified it in third place and just 3.6 seconds behind Denny Hulme and 3.3 seconds behind Bruce McLaren. Nine laps into the race a half shaft failed. When it broke, it tore up the rear of the chassis and the car went right into an embankment.
The car required more testing, development, and financial resources to be properly prepared for the very competitive CanAm competition. Penske, at the time, had many more successful and commercially more important obligations, so he withdrew from the remainder of the Can-Am races.
The lightweight T163 was sold to the present owner who was racing another T163. During the mid-1990s, the owner began a restoration which first entailed re-skinning the tub with thicker aluminum than Lola had used. The sheet metal gauge was increased from the sparse 20 gauge to 16 and 18 commonly found in other Lola T163 monocoque tubs. The owner theorized that this lightweight sheet metal gauge had been responsible for the half shaft failures. He believed that the lightweight tub was flexing, thus causing the shaft failures.
The restoration was completed in the mid-2000s. Since then it has only seen a few laps at Lime Rock.
The car is powered by a GM big block 510 with Lucas/Kinsler fuel injection and can produce in the neighborhood of 750 brake horsepower. The transaxle is a Lucas LG600. The car rides on modern BBS alloys and the brakes are Wilwood discs. The original lightweight monocoque panels were retained for reference. A correct T163 body taken off the original molds was obtained from Waterman in England. It is finished in correct Penske/Donohue Sunoco sponsored Lola T163 livery. There is Sunoco Blue paint, bright yellow Sunoco brand identifications and white numerals. In the rear is the unusual rear spoiler developed by Mark Donohue.
In 2008, this T163 was offered for sale at the 'Quail Lodge, A Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia' presented by Bonhams Auction. The lot was sold for $150,000 inclusive of buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008
The Lola T70 was replaced by the T160 in 1968. The following year, the T-160 which had undergone developmental improvements through the 1968 season, was dubbed the T163. Sadly, the T160 and T163 were unable to carry on the tradition of the highly successful T70. Though they scored several important victories, they were unable to provide real competition for the dominate McLarens and failed to capture the Championship.
The Lola T160, T162, and T163 were never able to score a victory in the Can-Am series, but were able to capture many podium finishes with many top-six finishes.
The final derivative of the T160 series was the T165 which was introduced in 1970. These were customer cars; the factory backed cars were the T220 and T222 with the T222 entered mid-season as a replacement for the wrecked T220. The T222 had a wider wheelbase than the T220 and its best finish was a second place for the Peter Revson team.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2008