A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
The Ginetta marque, which will shortly celebrate its 60th anniversary, has consistently punched above its weight throughout three distinct periods of ownership. Founded in 1957 by the brothers Walklett - Bob, Douglas, Ivor and Trevers - the company developed from a business fabricating steel-framed agricultural buildings in rural Suffolk into a respected low-volume manufacturer of road and competition cars. Following the retirement of the Walkletts in 1989, the company was sold but failed, and was then bought by an international group of enthusiasts led by the ebullient Martin Phaff. Based in Sheffield, they produced a number of models including the G27 and G33 but times were difficult and the company was only kept afloat by the burning ambition of the directors and their emphasis on continuing to build cars suitable for UK club motorsport. In 2005 Ginetta was sold to the charismatic Lawrence Tomlinson's thriving LNT Automotive Group and in 2007 moved to a new state-of-the-art factory near Leeds. Since then the company has become synonymous with a range of competitive GT and GT4 cars (G40, G55, and G60) and, uniquely, running three major UK championships using their own cars. This rich vein of success in modern motorsport has resulted in the marque's early cars, particularly the G4, G12 and G16 enjoying considerable extra cachet and becoming very sought after. The brothers first collaborative effort in car construction was a pre-war Wolseley Hornet-derived special (retrospectively known as the G1) which came to a premature sticky end against an immovable tree stump in their parents garden. Unbowed, Ivor and his siblings pushed on with the G2, a tube-framed ‘clubmans’ roadster designed by Trevers utilising Ford E93A parts and bearing a distinct resemblance to the Lotus 6. The brothers offered it as a sideline to their engineering business and it was a moderate success with production reaching around 100. The G3 followed fitted with a Ford 997/ 106E and clothed in their first attempt at a GRP body. It was a touch ungainly but not a bad effort and sold around 60. However, all was forgiven in 1961 with the arrival of the shapely G4. The old adage “If it looks right, it is right” certainly applied to the astonishingly pretty little Ginetta and, fitted initially with the unburstable 1-litre Ford 105E Anglia engine and subsequently with a Lotus Twin-Cam, the G4 captured the imagination of the competition set and was raced with widespread success as far afield as the USA and Canada. On short circuits, it proved the match of Divas, Marcos and the nimble Elans and in the hands of the late Chris Meek would become famous for the 'David and Goliath' battles with much more powerful Jaguars and the occasional Ferrari. Some serious sports racing cars were to follow, starting with the mid-engined G12 coupé which debuted in 1966. Its spaceframe chassis was clothed in a distinctive body, the central `hull' of which was bonded to the tubular structure, and looked a bit like a G4 that had spent a considerable time at the gym. Suspension was by double wishbones up front (with the ubiquitous Triumph Herald uprights), and reversed lower wishbone and top links at the rear, triangulated by radius rods. A variety of engines, from 1-litre Ford SCA Formula 2 'screamer' to a rumbling V8, were fitted at various times but all drove through Hewland transaxles. It wasn't long, however, before the initial success of the G12 was curtailed by the arrival of Derek Bennett's brilliant Chevron GT prototypes (later developed into the B6 and B8 production versions of '67 and '68 respectively), however, the brother's disappointment was moderated by the introduction of their neat little Hillman Imp-powered G15 road car. The marque's best seller merited the Walklett's fullest attention at the factory (now relocated to Witham, Essex), and brought much needed financial stability, but their love affair with sportscar racing was far from over. The G16 of 1968-9, a sleek evolution of the G12 theme, embraced the new open cockpit 'Group 6' regulations, albeit with a high windscreen, the frame of which was connected to the roll cage by a distinctive T-piece. Once again, the model was designed from the start to accept a wide range of power units and eight G16s are documented as having been built in period. Although the 1790cc, Ford-based Cosworth FVC was becoming the `two-litre' of choice in racing circles, BMW's single-overhead-cam M10 (2002-type) engine often proved a slightly less powerful but more reliable option over longer distances. G16s also competed with 1600cc Cosworth FVA and Coventry-Climax engines, as well as BRM and larger-capacity Oldsmobile V8s. However, with G15 production in full swing, there was no spare capacity at Ginetta to properly develop the G16 racer and, inevitably, much of this work fell on customers' shoulders. The Mustard Yellow G16 on offer here is Chassis Number 16/008 and was the last chassis built, however, it was never sold and remained in the Walklett family until its purchase by our vendor in 2014. This is confirmed by a covering letter from Ivor Walklett. The car had been around for ages and with the growing popularity of G16s in classic racing, it was decided that the time had come to eventually finish it. Common sense dictated that a new chassis would be appropriate and this was duly fabricated using the original jig and the car built up to a rolling chassis with the intention of securing an Historic Technical Passport. (the 1969 chassis will be supplied as part of the package). Race car preparer Ian Macdonald was tasked with building the car and he installed a Craig Beck BMW 2-litre and Hewland FT200. The engine produces around 225bhp breathing through twin 48 Webers and exhales through a custom made manifold and stainless steel system which, we understand, meets circuit noise limits. Tony Wilson, who is known to be particularly fastidious, rebuilt the Hewland and any worn components were replaced. The rear wheel bearings have been upgraded (the UJs and splines have remained as original with the HTP in mind) and the gear linkage, which was an issue in period, has been modified and is now fully resolved. The car sits on 8 and 10” split rims clothed with the appropriate Dunlop rubber. As the build was fairly recent, the extinguishers and belts are all legal and in-date as is the HANS, which has 2” shoulder straps. Our vendors have spent a lot of time testing and developing 008 during their ownership and were just starting to achieve some success with a class podium at the HSCC Guards 3-hour race at Snetterton this season. Anyone doubting the competitiveness of a well driven G16 should have a look at the 20-minute 'YouTube' in-car coverage of the 2012 Silverstone round of the HSCC Guards Trophy when 008's sister car started from the back of the grid and blew everything else into the weeds, winning overall. This is a super opportunity to own a well prepared, race-ready, historic Ginetta with current HTP papers that is eligible for a number of championships, would be welcome anywhere, and is on offer at less than half the price of a Chevron B8!!