A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of driving my friend Pierre Lequex’s immaculately restored Racing Sprite to the Lenham Roadhouse Cafe in Kent. From the 50s to the 70s the Cafe was a regular stopping point for rally cars on their way to Europe, particularly for British Monte Carlo Rally contestants. Coaches running between Dover and London also used to stop there and it is said that Ian Fleming wrote much of his first Bond novel whilst eating breakfast at the Cafe when travelling up from his house in Folkestone to his publisher’s office in London.

After many years as a truck stop the Cafe now has new owners who have made an effort to try and capture the custom of classic car owners who might be interested in the Cafe’s old links to rallying. Having seen an advert for the Cafe in an MG club magazine Pierre and I decided to head there early one Saturday morning for breakfast in his recently restored Sprite. Unfortunately Pierre broke his arm the week or so before our trip so could not drive. Instead he very kindly let me drive his very precious car. So his bad luck was my good fortune!

We had great weather and a fantastic trip down through the back roads of Kent to Lenham. Pierre had bought the Sprite minus it’s engine in a pretty poor condition a number of years ago. He had spent the intervening period having the car expertly restored whilst he investigated its history. He new it had been raced but he managed to find out it had competed not only in events in the UK such as the Brighton Speed Trials, but also in international events on the continent. The car is a hoot to drive as the engine is powerful and the car weighs very little – even with two passengers! You can find out more about Pierre’s fantastic car on his website http://www.cyberspot.co.uk.

Then Lenham Roadhouse Cafe is not easy to find being hidden back from the road and with no signage to alert you to its presence. Once you do find it you have to navigate a porthole filled parking area to get to the entrance-not ideal in a low-slung sportscar. The Cafe building itself has clearly seen better days but the interior has recently been repainted and the walls adorned with many of rally (and Sprite) legend John Sprinzel’s rally plates. These and the large number of accompanying photographs make the trip worthwhile. The huge breakfasts at a reasonable price are also an incentive to make a visit!