At the end of the 1969 season, Lola's Eric Broadley realised the Group 5 T70 Coupe was no match for the might of Porsche and Ferrari, so instead he switched his attention to the two-litre Group 6 class. This was quickly gaining interest and for 1970 a European Sportscar Championship was established especially for these prototypes.
Lola offered the T290 without an engine, leaving customers to pick their power-plant of choice. Cosworth was the preferred engine supplier and for the 1972 they offered two options; the venerable FVC or the newly developed Chevrolet Vega based 'four'. The former was tried and tested but displaced only 1,790 cc while the latter was not quite as reliable. Some teams did develop larger versions of the FVC while Cosworth themselves were hard at work to create the two-litre BDG. Regardless of the engine choice, a Hewland five-speed gearbox was used.
The successes of the T212 during the 1971 season, had certainly increased the demand for Lolas and no fewer than 34 T290s were built in 1972. Many were sold through European representative Jo Bonnier, who also fielded some of the cars with works support. Especially the Vega engined cars were quick straight out of the box but the engine's poor reliability proved a real handicap. As a result, the Abarth-Osella team and driver Arturo Merzario won the European Championship. The T290s were nevertheless very successful, winning races and championships all around the world.
250+ hp, 2.0 Liter overhead-valve Cosworth 4cyl engine with Lucas fuel injection, five-speed Hewland FG500 manual transaxle, independent front and rear suspension with Bilstein dampers and coil springs, and four-wheel disc brakes.
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