The car is 5cwt lighter than a standard 3000 which combined with a tuned engine producing just over 145bhp means 0-60 is achieved in around 8 seconds and when flat out in 4th gear (overdrive on 3rd and 4th) will top 115mph for anyone brave enough to try.
In the documentation the current owner found with the car were various press clippings, magazines from the early ‘80’s, assorted bills and receipts, a bill of sale to a Mr Jeremy Lloyd of Maida Vale, London and a page from a publication showing the career of Joanna Lumley, who it seemed had been married to Jeremy Lloyd, the quintessential English actor and playwright. A small plaque in ‘Lilly’s’ engine bay helped to explain this mystery, as the car was actually built for him in 1981.
The current owner says that he and his partner spotted the car at Historics auctions at Brooklands in 2013. Having secured the car at the auction they took “Lilly” home where they began researching the history. Lilly came with quite a file and the V5 stated that she was a 1961 Austin Healey 3000. It transpired that Lilly was in fact one of 18 cars built by the Lenham Motor Company in Kent, better known for their work on Sprites. The brainchild of Julian Booty and Peter Rix who founded Lenham in 1962.
Peter Rix said that a customer had approached them and asked them to build a special based on a TR6 chassis. However, this proved impractical as the TR has outriggers for rear suspension arms making it too wide. The original concept was to build their own sports car that looked like a typical post-war racer in the manner of H.W.M and Alta and having discounted the TR and also MGA they settled on the big Healey as it is very strong with a good scuttle assembly. Outriggers that support the body could be chopped off to leave a long, narrow chassis. The nose was actually inspired by the Delahaye and the design is very clever as the moulded light pods hide the independent front suspension units. The bonnet has a scoop rivetted on to provide clearance for the triple SU’s and also to improve cooling.
The present owner says: “One of the first things I did when I bought her was to swap the alloy wheels for wires and Lilly now looks more like I think she should and with modern radial tyres the handling is surprisingly good. The steering is firm and very predictable, far better than a Morgan of the period or standard Healey with a very positive feel to its cornering ability.”
“Lilly turns heads wherever we go and there are very few people who actually know what she is. Most of the cars went to the continent. I know of two that went to France and one was being competed in Australia. I have only come across one other so far in the UK which lives in Kent, not far from Lenham itself and I think I once saw another heading west on the M4.”
“A mechanic who used to look after her always urged me to have her put back to standard Big Healey MK 11 specification and I fully appreciate why a purist would say that. But Lilly is a little piece of motoring history in her own right and in my opinion should be remembered for what Julian and Peter set out to achieve.”