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1966 Lenham Le Mans Coupe

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  • The ex-Gordon Howie, Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams, Ian Burford Le Mans

  • The final Le Mans produced by Lenham

  • Eligible for a large variety of events

The Lenham Motor Company was born during the 1960s when such ‘boutique’ marques that built interesting specials based on mainstream models were appearing more frequently in Britain. The foundations of the business date to 1962 when Julian Kingsford-Booty and David Miall-Smith set-up The Vintage and Sports Car Garage behind the Dog & Bear Hotel in The Square, Lenham, Kent. Although their initial focus was that of restoration and repairs, the pair’s skills were recognised by a customer who a year later would commission them to create a hardtop roof to turn his damaged Austin-Healey ‘Frogeye’ Sprite into a coupé. This particular example was hand-crafted in aluminium, and its sleek design, noticed by customers in the workshop prompted further enquiries and eventually the duo to design glassfibre moulds to help with production of an aerodynamic body kit.

Over time, these kits became more sophisticated with the arrival of the later Sprite and MG Midget models with their wind-up windows, resulting in a design called the Lenham Le Mans GT which proved sufficiently popular for the firm to abandon restoration work, move into larger premises and register the Lenham Motor Company Ltd in 1967. Soon Lenham was offering a whole range of fastback designs, bonnets and hardtops for models including the Triumph Spitfire, MGB and even the Jaguar E-type – but it was the ‘Spridget’ conversions that worked the best, not least since the weight-saving glassfibre turned tuned versions of the small-engined cars into useful track weapons (one of the most famous being the Lenham GT Midget in which John Britten won 14 races in the 1966 season to take the Peter Collins Memorial Trophy for ‘most promising newcomer’).

In recent years, these Lenham's have become increasingly popular, notably due to their competitiveness and success in Goodwood’s Westlake Cup, as well as the increasing popularity of the various 60’s grids these cars are eligible for.

This particular car, the ex Gordon Howie / ‘Whizzo’ Williams / Ian Burford Lenham was manufactured in late 1966 and registered the following year. Alongside its racing history, what makes ‘696 BMO’ particularly interesting is that it was the last body fitted by Lenham themselves.

Prior to its current ownership, the car was internationally rallied by Gordon Howie for a number of years to great success before being taken on by Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams. ‘Whizzo’ developed the car into a circuit racer and had it painted in the Tartan Red it wears to this day, but the Lenham proportions were just a bit too restrictive for his frame so he reluctantly sold the car on and Kent based racer and collector Ian Burford took over custodianship. Burford competed in many series with 696 BMO but it was the HSCC’s Historic Road Sports that was his happiest hunting ground, taking home the Class E championship. He would regularly humiliate the Porsche 911s and Mustangs on the

tighter circuits, cornering with his inside front wheel in the air to the delight of the photographers. Ian set the car up so it’s slightly soft at the back end with gentle oversteer resulting in a beautifully balanced racer.

In 2014 Ian developed the car further with CCK Historic, enlarging the engine to 1310cc featuring a steel crank with CCK’s own steel con rods, forged Omega pistons and one of their own full race cylinder heads. The bottom end was balanced with a steel flywheel and F3 type racing clutch. Sitting on Yokohama racing rubber it’s still eligible for the HSCC’s Historic Road Sports series but a change to Dunlops would be required for the HRDC Allstars series or Equipe GTS. Expired FIVA papers are included within the history file, but please note they would need to be renewed if required.

The current owner acquired the car in 2020 with the intention of running it in both series but with COVID and work commitments, these ambitions were never realised and the car was only used on the road and for the occasional track day. With routine maintenance having been undertaken including the brake pads and fluids being replaced and a recent replacement Corbeau seat and harness, the car would perhaps benefit from some further tuning and a refresh prior to competitive racing once more.

Overall, with potential eligibility for a number of series including the Fordwater Trophy for under 1500cc GT cars at Goodwood Revival, the Westlake Cup at Members meeting and much more, paired with its interesting provenance, this lovely Lenham presents fantastic value.

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