Bevan Imp with Bill McGovern at the wheel in competition
   George Bevan talking to Bill McGovern - Guards Int. July 1970
George Bevan talking to Bill McGovern - Guards International July 1970
Comment by Bill McGovern when he signed his autograph: "It must be after the race, as George never laughed beforehand..."

The Imp Site

George Bevan

1917 - 1998
Leesons Hill, St. Paul's Cray

In 1970 British Saloon Car Racing, the title on points at least went to a private venture: the Bill McGovern driven, George Bevan entered, 1000 cc class dominating Sunbeam Imp.
Entries: 11; seven wins; 2nd place: twice.

In 1971 and 1972, the British Saloon Car Racing was again won by the Sunbeam Imp of Bevan / McGovern. In 1972 they also won the RAC Wiggins Teape Paperchase British Saloon Car Championship


George Bevan, the G of 'H & G Gas Cooking Ranges', did not just successfully build the rather specialised equipment for Chinese chefs, he also was the source for one of the hottest racing Imps (summer 1968) in Alice Blue.

   Leading Martin Raymond's Cooper S
Leading Martin Raymond's Cooper S, the Bevan Sunbeam Imp with front radiator and oil cooler

His son and heir, Peter Bevan was still racing George's earlier creation in Austin A40 disguise, when the Imp project started. Peter took in this old car the 1000cc class saloon record away from the ruling Fraser Imps a few seasons earlier.

Triumph Keeping your head
Tubular rollover bar

The Imp project started with a new body-shell. All opening bits (doors, bonnet, boot) were replaced with fibreglass; see-through bits were made of perspex, including the windshield.
The bare interior did come with all available seating, the driver's seat being of the Restall make.

A tubular rollover bar was fitted, partly because of Peter's experience with rolling the A40.

The radiator, a Serck crossflow type was placed up front. The oil cooler was also moved to the front (above the radiator), even though the long oil pipe lines mean a significant drop in oil pressure.

   Triumph Herald sub frame
Triumph Herald's steel angle 'iron' sub frame

The front suspension crossmember was removed to be able to fit a complete Triumph Herald front suspension. It was mounted on a square sub-frame of angle 'iron' (steel actually), crossbraced by small diameter tubes in a cruciform manner. The subframe side members acted as pick up points for the lower wishbones of the Herald parts. The upper wishbones are attached to the strengthened mounting points up in the wheel arches.

To compensate for the dispension of the front suspension crossmember, the front part of the body-chassis was strengthened by the addition of three tubular struts. One of these runs from the centre of the scuttle down to the floor alongside the driving seat. The other two use the same point in the centre of the scuttle, but diverge outwards on either side to each wheel arch.

The rear suspension was left just about standard, apart from the factory listed shortened coil springs and the ubiquitous Armstrong Adjustarides.

There are three engines available for the Bevan concoction: two 998s and a 850. These are Rallye Imp blocks which were bored out, resleeved and bored out again.

The engine bottom was left standard, because it can take quite a lot of increased power, as Willy Griffiths has preached - it is a very sound design.

   Engine bay, photo taken from the left
Click to enlarge

Ex-driver Pete is a cylinder heads specialist, but he is reluctant to reveal the details of his combustion chamber work. Peter Bevan started his own tuning business, gaining fame with Bevan heads. Many successful Minis were treated on one of his, including the one driven by Rob Mason. Cars using his parts held lap records at both Lydden and Brands Hatch. (Spring 1968)

The Bevan Sunbeam Imp had a high standard of finish. The rear wheels were Minilites with a 7 inch rim fitted with 500-L-13 Dunlop 'Green Spots'. These made larger wheel arches necessary. The front arches needed no modification, despite the extra lock of the Herald suspension. The front wheels were fitted with 4.50 M-13 tyres.

Bevan Imp
Glyn Parham says "the Bevan Imp is being driven by Peter Bevan. George and Peter built the Imp as a replacement for Peter's A40 during 1967 and they could race in both the 850cc and 1 litre races by simply changing the engine. Bill didn't start driving for George until after Peter wrote the photographed car off in a huge end over end accident at (I think) Thruxton." To which Andrew Kitson answers: "I have Bill McGovern listed as entries driving Peter Bevan's Imp in a couple of 1968 Snetterton programmes." And Glyn Parham says: "This makes perfect sense as Peter would have had his accident in about August/September of 1968. George obviously didn't hang around as he had a new car built for 1969 and Bill was available after his drive with Emery had gone to the wall." "[Peter] didn't race again after the accident."
source: Thomas Lundevall @ (Aug 20 2008); Lars Helmer private collection

Bevan Imp, right rear point of view
Slightly flared wheel arches at the rear - the work of Brian Barton of Gillingham, Kent
Bevan Imp, right rear point of view
1971 - Minilite wheels, front 8, rear 9 inch. In the background a customer Imp, that would be seen on german race tracks in the 1971 season.


1st June 1969, where? when? According to the Autosport race report the final was won by Bill McGovern in George Bevan's G2 Imp, from Phil De Banks 1300 Mini

For 1970 the RAC dumped the Group 5 category, however popular, in favour of the Group 2. In the 1-litre class there was no longer a Cooper S, nor a Ford Escort. George Bevan, whose Imps had been successful at club level, jumped in the void of the BTCC Group 2.

Juhani Kynsilento drove a George Bevan Sunbeam Imp at Oulton Park, Rothmans International Trophy meeting of 1971. (against Trevor Wilcox in in a Hillman Imp a.o.)

George Bevan Imp, driver: Bill McGovern
photo on the front of a brochure of the Chrysler Competition Centre, December 1972 (Ref. C9454/H/1/25) called
'Special Tuning Kits and Parts for Imps and Avengers'

Bill McGovern and the Bevan Imp

March 1969: Piper advertises the fact that "Bill McGovern in the George Bevan 850 Sunbeam Imp sixth overall in the 1300 c.c. class and 850 track record" on Piper cams.

written by Martyn Jones

Back in 1970, the R.A.C. British Saloon Car Championship was fast and furious, but compared to todays Touring Cars the saloon racers of yesteryear were delightfully low-tech.

No, these were not thinly-disguised single-seaters lurking under multi-coloured bodywork, they were cars that were very little removed from the actual saloons you could buy in the showroom.

What made 1970 special was: one small car, one private team, a veritable David, who took on the Goliaths and beat them fair and square. Of course, this particular slayer of giants was the Bevan Imp. A car skilfully piloted by Bill McGovern and expertly prepared by George Bevan (Imp Tuning Guru and Imp Club Member).

Although this Imp was highly modified (and beautifully prepared), it would be fair to say that there are Imp Club Members who currently run much higher specification cars on the road !  Indeed, for the first three events of 1970, the Bevan Imp had to make do with standard doughnuts, clutch and drum brakes !

  Bevan and Imp
advert scanned by Darcy Maddock
Chrysler did very very little to promote the Bevan/ McGovern activities. All they did was run two adverts.

In the course of the year 1970 this remarkable combination had achieved in only 11 starts:

Won their class in the 4 hour Tourist Trophy (beating all the Abarths!), the only British class win.

Not content with this, they went on to win the R.A.C. Championship in 1971 & 1972 as well! (The Vanguard Bevan Imp is represented in it's 1972 livery.)

Bevan Imp specifications:
one secondhand metallic blue Sunbeam Imp (315 !)
fibreglass bonnet & Boot
perspex windows
'roll cage !'
13" wheels
998cc engine
standard rods, crankshaft, pistons
Piper camshaft
sport head (1.4"/1.125" valves)
race rear Konis
weight 14.5 cwt (100 lb. over the limit !)


Motor magazine tested the Bevan Imp at Silverstone Racing Circuit.

Tyres for the wet test day were 970 compound Dunlop 4.75/10.00 x 13 front and dry tyres were 350 compound, 11.5 inch wide at rear.

Close ratio gears kept the engine between 7000 and 9000 rev/min. On those ratios it pulled 9000 rev/min down to Woodcote bend (173 kph). Different gearing would make it go a lot faster, but with that gearing it would really shoot up to that speed which is what a racing car has to do.

Reputed to produce 135 bhp.

Motoring News 1970, 23rd July
excellent article on George Bevan's race successes

Motor, 1971, 3rd Feb., issue no. 3579
Article on George Bevan's successes and they tested the car at Silverstone Racing Circuit. 5 pages, incl. a centre 3 page colour spread ; plus the Bevan Imp on the front cover.

Bob Gayler of Piper Cams says: Piper Engine Developments built many successful race engines, including the development work on the George Bevan Imps.


    translation supplied by Tim Clarke, Aug. 1, 2016
Obwohl der Imp im Vergleich mit anderen Rennwagen sehr zivil aussieht, wurden doch fast alle wichtigen Teile gendert oder gegen Spezialanfertigungen ausgetauscht. brig blieb nur die Karosserie eines gebrauchten 69-er Imps.   Although the Imp looks very civil(ised?) compared with other sports cars, almost all important parts were changed or exchanged in favour of purpose-made specials. What remained was only the bodyshell of a second-hand '69 Imp.
Die Vorderachse wurde mit Unterlegstcken 1,5° negativ gestellt und mit aufgeschweißten Blechstcken verstrkt.   Front suspension arms are set up with negative camber of -1.5 degrees and reinforced with welded metal beads.
Nachträglich eingebaut wurden Scheibenbremsen vom Vauxhall Viva. Die Bremssättel sind aus Leichtmetall.   According to news reports, discs and calipers are from the Vauxhall Viva. The mounts are of light alloy.
Vorn werden Armstrong-Stoßdämpfer gefahren, hinten Konis, die auf Druck und Zug unterschiedlich einstellbar sind.   At the front were Armstrong shock absobers [dampers] and at the rear Konis, which could be set to different bump and return rates.
Die Antriebswellen stammen vom Imp-Kombi.   The driveshafts were from the Hillman Husky.
Problematisch an der Kraftbertragung sind die Rotoflex-Gummikupplungen, wie sie auch bei Formel-3-Wagen verwendet werden. Die Anflligkeit dieser Gummikupplung gegen Risse verhindert ein weiteres Tieferlegen des Wagens. Sicherheitshalber werden diese Ringe nach jedem Rennen ausgewechselt, was allein die Kleinigkeit von 145 Pfund kostet.   The Rotoflex rubber couplings are problematic for power transfer, and were also used in Formula 3 cars. The vulnerability of these rubber couplings to cracking prevented further lowering of the suspension. For safety's sake, these coupling rings are changed after each race, which alone cost the trifling sum of 145 pounds.
Die Kotflügel sind verbreitert, um die maßigen Minilite-Felgen aufzunemen. Vorn werden 8-, hinten 9-Zoll-Räder gefahren. Meistens wird die Dunlop-Regenmischun in den Größen 185/5.50-13 vorn, und 4.75 - 11.60-13 hinten verwendet.
Diese extrem nieder-profiligen Reifen stabilisieren den Wagen besonders wirkungsvoll beim Bremsen aus hohen Geschwindigkeiten. Immerhin läuft der Wagen mit einer langen Achse ber 200 km/h.
  The wings are widened to accommodate the huge Minilite wheels. At the front 8-, and rear 9-inch wheels are run. Mainly Dunlop rain compound tyres in the sizes 185 or 5.50x13 front and between 4.75 to 11.60x13 rear are used.
These extremely low-profile tyres stabilse the car, especially during braking from high speed. Therefore the car, with a long straight, can approach speeds of 200kph.
Die Kraftquelle dreht knapp 10.000 U/min und entwickelt dabei 108-109 PS. Geschaltet wird normalerweise bei 9500 Umdrehungen, aber schon bei 5500 U/min. ist ausrechend Leistung vorhanden.   The engine revs to around 10,000 rpm and develops 108-109 bhp. Gearchanges are normally at 9500 rpm, but even at 5500 rpm adequate power is available.
Der Hubraum wurde von 875 ccm auf 998 ccm vegroßert, die Pleuel sind serienmäßig, die Kolben wurden durch Kürzen des 'Hemdes' stark erleichtert. Sie werden nach jeweils drei Rennen gewechselt. Die Kurbelwelle kann nitriert von Chrysler England bezogen werden. Die Kupplung stammt aus der Formel-3.   The engine capacity is increased from 875 cc to 998 cc, the conrods are standard, the pistons are modified by shortening their 'skirts'. These are changed every three races. The crankshaft is based upon a nitrided Chrysler UK (Rally spec.) one. The clutch comes from Formula 3.
    Editor's Note: The Rootes Group's/Chrysler UK's Competition Department supplied a price list of performance parts in support of their involvement with Rallying and Racing in the UK and abroad. This included parts such as
  • uprated Rotoflex couplings,
  • wet liner,
  • piston and ring sets and
  • the improved special Reinz headgaskets for the standard and 998 cc bores,
  • big valve heads and uprated clutches and
  • nitrided crankshafts, as well as
  • various specifications of camshaft, designated R15, R17, R20, R21, R22 and R23, each shifting the usable power band higher up the rev. range.
It should be noted, also, that even standard crankshafts were factory balanced to at least 7,000 rpm.

From: TC in Guilford
Subj.: feedback on Bevan/McGovern racing Imp
Date: Aug. 1, 2016

Dear Franka,

I attach a suggested improvement to the Bevan/McGovern racing Imp page, both as a student of languages and someone who was very interested in the performance Imp-based cars, having driven a Sunbeam Imp Sport in my teens and owned both a Davrian Mk5 and Clan Crusader, as well as having Ian Carter begin build an 1149cc engine for the Davrian and obtaining Chrysler UK's performance parts list when planning for competition upgrades. I watched George Bevan 'pedal' his Imp to many a success over the years, memorably in competition against Gerry Marshall in his Vauxhall at Brands Hatch.

Tim Clarke

the Bevan Imp
photos supplied by Nick Cleak
  Brands Hatch Circuit. Must have been 1970: if you look at the stickers on the roof - there are 7 first place ones !

Again Bill McGovern in George Bevan's race winning imp, leading three Ford Escort Mk1's and a Mini.
Out of the 51 races it took part in, it won 48 !

Silverstone, June 27/28 1970: ECT Tourist Trophy
Bill McGovern in his 998 Hillman Imp won his division (div. 1). 122 laps. Qualifying time: 1.51,6
2nd came J. Knightingale in another 998 Hillman Imp.

Silverstone, September 24 1972: ECT Tourist Trophy
Bill MsGovern finished 14th overal.

Silverstone, September 23 1973: ECT Tourist Trophy
Bill McGovern as well as L. Nasle drove their 998 Bevan Hillman Imps to the finish. Division 1 included Escorts 1600 and Alfa Romeos 2000 GT.

  the Bevan Imp ahead

1971? at Crystal Palace?

  points wins
1970 72; runner up: 68 8x (11 races)
1971 80; runner up: 76 10x (12 races)
1972 a margin of 8 points all 10 races

Les Nash bought the Imp in which Bill McGovern won the 1972 British Saloon Car Championship and used it in the 1973 season.
Source: as sent to (21 Oct 2008, 12:34)
Group 2; Silverstone?



Caption: British Grand Prix Support Race - Automotive Touring Car Trophy Race 1973, Silverstone
Baldyne Engineering? Baluyne Engineering? Cray Avenue, Orpington, Kent
Source: Clipmotorsport at Flickr, set 70's Silverstone & Brands Hatch - permission withdrawn

On the 1973 Racing Car Show on stand 56, Bill McGovern's championship winning Bevan Imp was on a display, far from level, with a huge photograph on the wall behind it.

George Bevan died at age 81 on Sunday 22nd March 1998


Harrington, P.
Hot Crispy Noodle / by Paul Harrington; photos by Trackshot. - Cars & Car Conversions 1968, July. - p.132-134 : 7 photos
visiting George Bevan

Racing at crystal palace / Phillip Parfitt. -
ISBN 0-947981-38-1
It has a little text and three clear photo's of Imps in action, one of them is George Bevan's.

Championship team. - Motoring News 1970, July 23. - p.5
Bevan Imp. Excellent article on George Bevan's race successes

The Bevan Imp [Track Test]. - Motor, 1971, 3rd Feb. (week ending February 6), issue no. 3579. - p.37-38
Article on George Bevan's successes and they tested the car at Silverstone Racing Circuit. 5 pages, incl. a centre 3 page colour spread ; plus the Bevan Imp on the front cover.

Der Superzwerg / Falk vom Hofe. - Auto Sport Aktuell, 1971 (?). - p.46-48
a private Motor Sports magazin, published by Mr. Kautz, the owner of a small Car Rental Company in Cologne

Sunbeam Imp - George Bevan's 1972 Race Car

Size: 1:43 Scale

George Bevan's 1 litre Imp was the most successful race imp of its time. In 1970 alone Bill McGovern drove it to 8 lap records, 7 class wins and 2 second places in only 11 starts to secure the RAC Saloon Car Championship. He also secored the only British class win in the 4-hour Tourist Trophy. The British Saloon Car Championship victories were repeated in both 1971 and 1972 and the car is represented here in it's 1972 livery.

   Vanguard Bevan Sunbeam Imp

George Bevan's grandson worked for four years for Glyn Parham: "we occasionally worked between gossip on racing matters". "[..] only one of the Group 2 Imps was ever sold (in 1971 to Sweden I think), the rest were uprated into the following years specification or written off as the result of accident damage etc. "
source: Glyn Parham @ (May 17 2004)

"George told me many moons ago, when he did our engines, he had one car in a french museum, I believe the peugeot talbot museum. I think it was the blue triple championship winning car."
source: km1164 @ (May 24 2004)
The french Peugeot museum is Peugeot-only. The Simca Talbot Museum at Poissy holds no Sunbeams, either. So which?

The Imp Site
   Competitive Impers
      Racing Imps
         George Bevan & Bill McGovern (this file)
            The Bevan Imp
         Bill McGovern
   Tuners & Builders

External link: 16v valve George Bevan - Martin Humpfries engine

© Franka
Edition: 2 Aug. 2016
File started: 20 Aug. 1997


Not Imp related:

Photo by Gerald Swan on the web:
Brands Hatch 1974, 17 March - Race of the Champions support, Bill McGovern driving a George Bevan 1.5-litre Volkswagen Passat (JPEG Image, 1000x626 pixels)