Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Ginetta @ 60

Ginetta @ 60 Published: 23rd Oct 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ginetta @ 60
Ginetta @ 60
Ginetta @ 60
Ginetta @ 60
Ginetta @ 60
Ginetta @ 60
Ginetta @ 60
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

Ginetta celebrates 60th anniversary in 2018. Rob Hawkins fi nds out how this specialist has survived where others have failed in the highly competitive market of sports car manufacturing

Ask any petrol-head what their dream job would be and it’s usually either a racing or test driver or designing and making their own cars. However, the reality of the latter choice requires hard work and very deep pockets to stand any chance of success. The likes of Porsche and Ferrari have the funds and resources to invest vast amounts of time and money into developing a new model and ensuring it succeeds.

The UK has long been a breeding ground for sports car manufacturing, dating back to when the Austin Seven could be re-bodied, or a Bentley rolling chassis could be customcoachbuilt. During the fifties and sixties, the kit car market evolved when a self-built car avoided purchase tax. Even when this financial loophole was abolished with the advent of VAT, the kit car scene continued to thrive due to the numerous people who were keen to build their own car and the many manufacturers who realised this was still the cheapest way into car manufacturing.

Brotherly love

Founded by four brothers (Bob, Ivor, Trevor and Douglas Walklett in 1958), Ginetta quickly became a very well-known self-build sports car manufacturer, especially with their Imppowered G15 and Ford-based G4 (every model to date is known simply by a number). During the eighties, they relocated from southern England to Scunthorpe in Humberside (now Lincolnshire) and never stood still with development, launching successful models such as the family-sized Cortina-based G26 to rival the Lotus Excel. By 1986, they had ventured further with the launch of the mid-engined G32 that gained European crash test approval. Unfortunately, Toyota launched the Mk1 MR2 in the same year…

Taking the leap from kit car manufacturer to sports car manufacturer was a huge step, and the Walklett brothers who started Ginetta no doubt realised that their G32 should have been a bigger hit, having only sold 130 cars. They battled on with the Rover V8-powered G33, but eventually retirement was looming, so new owners stepped in.

Take a look at the long list of British sports car manufacturers over the last 60 years and many have been swallowed up by larger manufacturers to keep them alive, including Lotus, MG and Aston Martin. This is perhaps what Ginetta needed, and in 2005, it almost followed suit. Businessman and engineer Lawrence Tomlinson from Batley in West Yorkshire tried to buy TVR because he was competing successfully in 2004 and 2005 with the TVR Works GT2 cars.

However, it was not to be, but instead, a deal was struck to buy Ginetta. Tomlinson continued racing, and a move to the American manufacturer Panoz Esperante in 2006 brought home a win in the Le Mans 24hour GT2 Class.

Back in 2005, Ginetta had already established itself in a one-make race series for their Ford-based G20. This was the key to successfully moving away from the kit car scene, which was shrinking. And this is exactly where Ginetta was heading under its new ownership. Plus, its ethos was to largely stick to a successful confi guration for a circuit race car – front engine, rear-wheel drive.

The racers’ edge

The first model to appear under Tomlinson’s ownership was the G50 racing car. It has since laid the foundations for the now hugely-popular GT4 class worldwide. The same chassis is still used today in the current G55 GT4 model, which still dominates this highly competitive category. Thirteen years later and Ginetta appear to have found its feet with five models (G40, G55, G58, LMP3 and LMP1) and five single-make in-house race series.

The Ford Zetec-powered G40 is the entry-level Ginetta, which is available in three states of tune for four dedicated race series (GRDC, G40 Cup, GT5 Challenge and Ginetta Juniors), with the G40 Club Car being road legal. At present, there appears to be no need to evolve the G40 any further, which is the position that many manufacturers would like to be in.

Ginetta’s G55 GT4 is a larger and somewhat more powerful thoroughbred race car. Powered by a Ford 3.7-litre V6, which is tuned extensively in house to achieve power output of and reliability to the extent Ginetta warrant racing engines, which is unheard of in motorsport.

The G55 GT4 is eligible for Ginetta’s in-house championship; the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup. The GT4 version sees a power increase and numerous driver aids added. As a result, it has evolved into one of the most successful GT4 cars ever built. There are a couple of one-make race series in the UK that it can compete in, although many owners of this and the G40 compete in other events, such as hill climbs and sprints, and mixed-race series in other countries.

A move away from road cars

So establishing several race series and building race cars instead of road cars appear to have kept the Ginetta brand alive. Sceptics may argue that Ginetta has moved away from its very roots, but the motoring world has moved on and few people want to strip their tired family saloon and turn it into a sports car as before. And there are similarly dwindling numbers of people who want to build a specialist sports car, even if all the parts are supplied new and ready to fit.

The luxury sports car market is also another sector that Ginetta has briefly explored, having developed a fixedhead sports prototype, the G58, which is powered by a tuned version of the Chevrolet LS3 engine to produce 575bhp in a car that only weighs 940kg. Many manufacturers have been here before, so Ginetta have gone a stage further and created a two-seater version, which they refer to in-house as “the world’s best track day toy.” It comes with air conditioning and is designed to appeal to those people wealthy enough to want to have some fun on a race circuit, but not get too serious, although it can compete in most open sports car events. With prices starting at £235,000+VAT, this is clearly a toy for the super-rich, and judging by the handful of customers’ cars at the factory either in the process of being built or maintained, it’s working well.

Sixty years on

At the time of visiting the factory, there was quite a bit of everything that has already been mentioned. Several G40s had been built, some were awaiting shipment to Sweden. Several others, along with a selection of 55s, were in the process of being built. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping sight was the warehouse where the fi fth and sixth shelves of the rows of racking held several GRP G40 and G55 bodies and spaceframes. Looking over all of these ‘shells and the completed cars, it suddenly dawned on me that Ginetta have taken the Henry Ford philosophy to adopting the same colour (white in this case, not black). Ginetta’s reason is based on practicality of parts supply at a race event. With up to 100 cars competing during their busiest weekends, having the same colour bumpers, bonnet and doors helps with popular spares. Differentiation is down to the decals.

May the G force be with you.



User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Subscribe