Lola Aston Martin Description
Chassis numbers: SL73/101 and SL73/121
That Aston Martin was, in the mid 1960s, developing a new V8 engine to fit into the DBS was a poorly kept secret. The first public view of an experimental prototype, dry sumped, 5 litre V8 was on the stand of Surtees Racing at the Racing Car Show at Olympia during January 1967. On an adjacent stand, Lola was debuting their new sports racing car, the Eric Broadley designed Lola T70 Mark III. At the show, it was announced that the Lola would be using the new Aston V8 during the 1967 season.
The Lola T70 Mark III was itself based on the 1963 Lola GT, a mid-engined sportscar powered by a 4.2 litre Ford V8. The T70 had an aluminium central structure with box-like side members and structural bulkheads. The body was made of fibreglass panels with the front and rear body sections easily removable and also a pair of gullwing doors.
David Brown was of the opinion that ‘racing improves the breed’ but AML engine designer, Tadek Marek was not particularly in agreement with such a high risk strategy. AML supplied special versions of the new V8, designated DP218, with capacity of 5,064 cc, a dry sump, Lucas fuel injection and a belief that the output was as much as an rather optimistic 450 bhp at 6750 rpm.
In March, two cars were announced for the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hour race, but before this, the first car SL/73/101, was entered into the 1,000 km endurance race at the Nürburgring and driven by John Surtees himself. Unfortunately, the car retired after seven laps after a rear suspension wishbone broke.
At Le Mans, /101 was joined by a second car, SL73/121, with a fully enclosed longer tail contributing to a much lower drag co-efficient. The newer car, /121, retired when only on the third lap after only 19 minutes with a holed piston. It appeared that the different aerodynamics of the longer tail caused overheating. The other car, /101 also suffered from overheating and lasted a shade over two and a half hours.
Once the engines were returned to AML and stripped down it was found that the blocks had twisted and cracks were found in the main bearing housing. The engine went through a major redesign to strengthen the bottom end which prevented the introduction of the DBS V8 until late 1969. With hindsight, both David Brown and Tadek Marek were right with their different opinions on racing the V8. The failure of both engines on the track was certainly an embarrassment for AML and could have damaged the reputation of the marque yet the extremes of the racetrack had showed up a failing with engine that had not shown up during road testing and thus the production V8 has proved to be an extremely strong and reliable unit.
Both Lola cars carried on racing through the 1967 season and beyond but with 5.9 litre Chevrolet V8 engine.