Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note this vehicle is sold on a Bill of Sale.
Norman Smith, California (acquired new in April 1967)Roger Penske Racing, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above in August 1967)John A. Marr, New York (acquired from above in March 1969)Nick Engles, Pennsylvania (acquired from above in May 1977)Dr. Richard Dejarald, Illinois (acquired from the above)Chuck Haines, Missouri (acquired from the above)Jim Oppenheimer, Chicago, Illinois (acquired from the above in 1986)Clarence G. Catallo, Michigan (acquired from the above in 1988)Frederick McLean, California (acquired from the above in 1995)Pat Ryan, Alabama (acquired from the above in May 1996)Current Owner, United Kingdom (acquired from the above in October 2009)
Road America Can-Am, September 1967, George Follmer, No. 16 (18th Place)Chevron GP at Bridgehampton, September 1967, George Follmer, No. 16 (3rd Place)Player’s 200 at Mosport Park, September 1967, George Follmer, No. 16 (6th Place)
New York Auto Show, New York City, January 1969
Few sports racing cars can match the appeal of this Lola T70 Mk III Spyder, which combines cutting-edge design, desirable placement in the T70 chassis sequence, and, most importantly, a competition career as one of Roger Penske’s cars in the 1967 Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am). According to a 2009 letter from the archivist of Lola Cars International, chassis no. SL71/47 was one of the first Mk III Spyders built, actually bearing a chassis prefix of the outgoing Mk II variant.
Researched by its current and previous owners for the last two decades, this T70 was carefully documented as the winner of the 1967 USRRC Championship driven by Mark Donohue. Marque historian John Starkey published multiple editions of his authoritative book on T70s that stated the same, and there is a large number of documents in the included and comprehensive history file that have convincingly placed SL71/47 in the position of the chassis that won the crown that year. More recently, however, the history of SL71/47 was deemed inaccurate in light of new information, and the latest edition of Mr. Starkey’s book has concluded that while this car was definitely raced by the Penske team in 1967 Can-Am competition – something that apparently no one has ever called into doubt – it was done so by George Follmer until an accident during practice at Mosport on September 3rd. While Follmer’s car, now understood to be SL71/47, was damaged, it was repaired overnight and finished in 6th Place in that event. Unfortunately, the car had received damage substantial enough that it was deemed no longer up to the Penske team’s stringent standards, and Follmer was swapped into another chassis (SL73/126) for the remainder of the 1967 season.
Documented provenance for SL71/47 starts with a somewhat recently discovered ad in Competition Press in August 1967, placed by first owner Norman Smith, offering the car for sale. It is believed that Penske Racing purchased the car from Smith after Follmer had an accident at Riverside, California, in July while tire testing in his USRRC car, thought by Starkey to be SL71/32.
As reported by Starkey, SL71/47 was rebuilt in 1969 as a show car and displayed at the New York Auto Show with a Simoniz livery and an updated Mk IIIb nose section. SL71/47 was then sold in March 1969, as documented by a copy of an original Bill of Sale from Penske Racing that accompanies the car. Its new owner, John Marr, is quoted in correspondence as saying that the car was delivered to him personally by Mark Donohue and states that Donohue commented: “It was raced a few times by George Follmer, he crashed it and it was built into a show car.”
By the mid-1990s, SL71/47 was purchased by collector and racer Pat Ryan. Still in remarkably original condition, the Lola was comprehensively restored to vintage racing specification in 2007. During the restoration, distress was discovered in the same area of the chassis damaged in Follmer’s Mosport accident. Photos documenting the 1967 racetrack incident accompany the car at auction. With the chassis professionally repaired, the T70 was finished in proper Penske Racing livery and campaigned at the 2008 Monterey Historic Races and the 2009 Can-Am Reunion at Watkins Glen.
Now in the ownership of a UK-based collector, this incredibly fast Lola T70 Spyder is ready for its next chapter, whether as a vintage racing car or collection showpiece. As a bona fide Penske Racing Lola T70 driven by George Follmer in a golden era of American sports car competition, this Lola is one of the most significant Mk III Spyders ever publicly offered. Accompanied by the aforementioned history file, the Lola also comes with assorted mechanical components and a second, and thought to be original, body. These additional pieces will be delivered to the buyer at the seller’s expense after the auction.
A genuine Penske Team T70 with ties to legendary American driver George Follmer, SL71/47 promises to be greeted with a warm welcome at major historic events and concours d’elegance around the world.