1972 Lenham Le Mans GT is a little wonder

Fifty years ago, Lenhams were head-turners and pretty good on the track. Simon de Burton has found an example that’s ‘as new’

Side view of 1972 Lenham Le Mans GT

In the late 1960s and early ’70s Lenham re-imagined a number of British sports cars

The Lenham Motor Company was born during the 1960s when such ‘boutique’ marques that built interesting specials based on mainstream models were springing up all around 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 they were initially focused on restoration and repairs, the pair’s skills were recognised by a customer who unexpectedly commissioned them to create a hardtop roof to turn his damaged Austin-Healey ‘Frogeye’ Sprite into a coupé.

The well-executed result was hand-formed from aluminium, with the sleek look prompting further enquiries from Sprite owners that resulted in the duo designing glassfibre moulds from which aerodynamic body kits could be laid up.

The 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.

Engine of 1972 Lenham Le Mans GT

A supremely clean 1293cc engine has yet to feel the strain of the track

Rear of 1972 Lenham Le Mans GT

The car is described as “on the button in every area”

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’).

As the Lenham marketing material revealed, the kits were ‘engineered for speed, with comfort and safety’ – and, as can be seen from the example here, they did a great deal to improve the aesthetics of the standard Spridget, too.

The car on offer has been the subject of a meticulous rebuild by a leading (but anonymous) figure in the historic racing world and was created using the engine and mechanicals from a Spridget-based Ashley sports car that was damaged beyond repair during a Silverstone practice session. After being stripped to the bare bones, every original component of the Lenham that was salvageable was refurbished to ‘as new’ condition before the car was fitted with the Ashley’s fully rebuilt 1293cc engine – which has never since been used on track – along with a new clutch and gearbox.

Rebuilt suspension, a full rollcage, plumbed-in fire system and road registration complete the picture of what is, essentially, a showroom-fresh Lenham Le Mans.

What vendor Bob Cranham hadn’t appreciated before the rebuild, however, was that his 6ft 3in frame doesn’t actually fit inside the stylish fastback – hence the search for a slightly shorter buyer.

1972 Lenham Le Mans GT

On sale with Bob Cranham, Surrey, 01737 224175
Asking £24,750