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Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé

 

XBE 340 ~ the very first Lenham GT

The car was built for Dr. John Curry

I heard recently from John Curry who told me the story of how the very first Lenham Sprite came into being: ~

"In the early 60's when I was in my early 20's I was strongly influenced by car racing and the likes of John Cooper, Colin Chapman, and the Lola designer, the GSM Dart, etc.  I took a sabbatical from my medical studies and thought about starting car racing, on a budget, again.  Also, I wanted to apply my ideas to car modification. 

I saw an advertisement for a Sprite that had been modified for racing but had been slightly damaged. The owner, a student engineer, had run out of funds and needed money to return to his own country. On viewing the car I foresaw this would make an excellent mule on which to apply my ideas for:
a) improving the appearance of the Marque I Sprite and,
b) to recommence car racing (on a budget).
The car had mild frontal damage which was only cosmetic.  I bought it very cheaply and parked it at my parent's home in Bearsted, Kent which was only a few miles from Lenham.

I had previously known of Julian (Booty), a friend of my sister Anita, who had gained a reputation for meticulous vintage car restoration.  The Sprite was originally a ghastly maroon colour.  It had an extensively modified engine to Formula Junior standards, wire wheels and disc brakes (?) and had been lightened extensively by geometric drilling of the floor pan with two inch holes.  I cannot remember other suspension mods, nor can I find the original registration papers but will continue searching.  I don't recall whether I approached Julian or he contacted me but I made a plan and a diagram of what appearance I wanted for the top and the back of the car.  Julian had an aluminium panel beater who could do this for me, so the car was taken to Julian's workshop/barn in Lenham. 

Over the winter season, work on the body modification xbe 340was done.  Julian asked me to view the car when it was nearly completed but he in fact had the back window designed as a wrap-a-round similar to a 365 Porsche.  I felt this did not go well with the design I had made and asked him to change it to a flat  window - this was done after much discussion!

After I took delivery of the car I was approached by Julian who wished to use the car to take a mould and produce fibreglass copies. I was concerned that after taking the mould the metallic silver paint in the area over which this had been done did not match the rest of the car. I did not ask for any financial remuneration but allowed him to continue on the condition that the car would be called "the Curried Sprite".  This, of course, did not happen. 

I had previously bought some Dunlop R Series tyres from another race driver I met in the pits during a race at Crystal Palace.  Maybe, the wire wheels were bought at the same time, I can't remember.  I raced the car only once, when the back of the seat collapsed, making driving very difficult, but I won my class. I sold the car later that year to finance my return to medical school, for £670 pounds having paid £110 for the original car.  Since that time I have lived and practiced in many places making it difficult for me to find exact dates, details, and photos, except for the one I have already enclosed.  However, I have many items still packed up from which more may be revealed.

Lenham GTThe bonnet was purchased from a company in South London and was of a very good fibreglass and the fittings were expertly made.  The only aluminum parts in the body were the top and the back panel.  There was a mild Kamm tail which was very 'de riguer' at this time. 

I confirm that this was the original Lenham and Julian was commissioned to build it to my design.

sincerely,

John Curry, California

P.S. I had fitted large Lotus Cortina tail lights which looked very impressive on the car."