Top 10 Ginettas

Ginetta has beaten the odds to enjoy 60 years of making cars for both road and track. Here are ten classics designed by the marque-founding Walklett brothers

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Ginetta G4

Introduced in late 1960, and officially unveiled at the following January’s Racing Car Show, the G4 has never really gone away. Underneath the pretty glassfibre bodyshell sat a round-tube spaceframe with the central body section bonded on – complete with floor, footwells and bulkheads. The one-piece front end flipped forward for access to the 997cc Ford four-banger.

The Lotus Eleven-like rear was junked in late 1962 in favour of a longer, more rounded arrangement that dispensed with the tailfins. This became known as the Series 2 edition, which in turn spawned the Series 3 version with Porsche 928-style lip-up lights. You can still buy a Series 2-style, Ginetta-badged G4 via DARE UK.

AutoFact: The works G4R (‘R’ for racing) bagged eight wins and six second places in 1964.

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Ginetta G8/G17/G18

Ginetta is inextricably linked with sports cars, but it occasionally dipped its toe in the single-seater waters. Its first attempt, the G8, was the only Ginetta made during the Walklett era of monocoque construction, and first appeared on track in 1964. Driven by works racer Chris Meek, it proved reasonably competitive. It also received a decent write-up in Motor Sport magazine in period, but other projects took precedence and the G8 was consequently placed on the backburner.

Ginetta returned to single-seaters later that decade, with the Imp-engined G17. Constructed for the short-lived Formula 4 category, it found greater success in hillclimbing with Peter Voigt to the fore. Ginetta also dabbled in Formula Ford, the G18 forming the basis for one of the first Reynard open-wheelers.

AutoFact: Ginetta briefly considered entering Formula 1 in 1969, but the BRM-engined G20 remained stillborn.

Ginetta G10

Unveiled at the 1965 Racing Car Show, the 289ci Ford V8-engined G10 roadster was warmly received – even if some onlookers couldn’t resist commenting upon its faint likeness to an MGB. Such comments were understandable when you factor in the selective parts bin pilfering; the G10 incorporated the B’s doors and windscreen.

In November of that year, the works car first ventured trackside at Brands Hatch. Driven by Chris Meek, the G10 was up against Robbie Gordon’s ex-Dick Protheroe Jaguar ‘Lightweight’ E-type, which represented the very best in British GT racers at the time. The Ginetta won but sadly only four G10s were ever made, in part due to homologation ‘issues’.

AutoFact: The G10 was later reworked as the G11, which featured MGB power.

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Ginetta G12

The mid-engined G12 arrived in 1966, and instantly proved a giant slayer on-track with 1-litre Cosworth SCA power. Bearing a strong family resemblance to the G4 fore of the A-pillars, Ginetta’s brave new world featured a tubular-steel spaceframe with the centre body/cockpit section bonded to it for extra strength. There were removable one-piece sections front and rear.

Willie Green, Chris Meek and a raft of others won countless races in the latter half of 1966 and into ’67, with Lotus twin-cam ‘fours’ eventually becoming the norm. The G12 was resurrected in the 1990s via Ivor Walklett’s DARE UK concern, ostensibly for the Japanese market.

AutoFact: A three-car Le Mans bid in 1967 with Gold Leaf backing was reputedly undone by Lotus, which nabbed it as a sponsor for F1 and more.

Ginetta G15

The success of the Imp-engined G15 following its introduction in 1968 indicated a change of emphasis towards road cars; a move that initially reaped dividends. So much so, it heralded a move to a new factory in Sudbury as the Walklett brothers chased volume sales.

While conceived strictly as a road car, inevitably the model was bloodied in competition. The G15 claimed countless ModSports and ProdSport throughout the 1970s. Offered in turnkey or component form with brand-new running gear, it was ultimately undone by the Fuel Crisis, imposition of VAT and the sudden axing of the Imp.

AutoFact: The Walkletts briefly considered reworking the G15 with Skoda power. It didn’t happen, although a batch of VW-engined versions were made for the US importer.

Ginetta G16/G16A

Replacing the G12 was always going to be a tough gig, and you could argue that the G16 never quite filled the void. Essentially a larger, wider, open-top version of its predecessor, this new strain was equipped with all manner of engines, including Coventry Climax and BMW units.

The works car, meanwhile, employed a 2-litre BRM V8 and was driven by a roll-call of British aces of the late 1960s including Willie Green, Ian Tee and Bev Bond. Nevertheless, the Walkletts could never get it to run on all eight cylinders for more than a few minutes at a time. Despite the likes of John Burton showing well in his Worcester Racing Association car, the G16 wasn’t developed further as Ginetta switched focus to making road cars.

AutoFact: Away from the circuits, the G16 was a successful hillclimber in the hands of Gerry Tyack.

Ginetta G21/G21S

It promised much, but ultimately came up short. First seen in 1970, but with deliveries not starting for a further two years, the G21 was a superb car that was undone by fate. While the prototype was Ford-powered, production cars featured a 1725cc Chrysler engine (although a Ford V6-engined version was notionally available).

In Holbay-tuned form, it was warmly received by the media in period, but the cost of Type Approving the car (it was a never offered in kit form), allied to all manner of outside forces, meant it never took flight. Offered as late as 1978, only 68 G21s were made.

AutoFact: A revised version with pop-up headlights – the G24 – remained unique.

Ginetta G26

To describe the G26 as a classic might be a bit of a push, but its arrival in 1984 saw Ginetta return to its kit-car roots in a big way. It also proved hugely successful, all things being relative. Based entirely on the Series III-V Ford Cortina, there was nothing particularly racy about the design, but it was one of few genuinely practical kits on offer at the time, and easily among the most credible in terms of styling and quality.

It was garlanded with praise by the specialist press, and in time spawned umpteen spin-offs including the Ford V6-powered G28 and G30. It also provided Ginetta with the funds to push forwards with more mainstream products.

AutoFact: The G26 was crowned 1985 Component Car of the Year by, er, Component Car magazine.

Ginetta G29

While not a great racing car by Ginetta’s lofty standards, the one-off G29 was certainly capable of taking on thoroughbred fare. That, and giving them a bloody nose during its brief competition career.

Based on an earlier Sports 2000 design, the G22, this Mazda rotary-engined screamer was fielded by the works in the 1986 Thundersports series. The G29 went up against 8.1-litre McLaren Can-Am weaponry, not to mention powerful Lolas, Chevrons and suchlike, so was disadvantaged from the outset. Nevertheless, driven by the likes of Mark Hales and Phil Dowsett, the Hawaiian Tropic-sponsored car was often in the mix, even though it never bagged an outright win.

AutoFact: The G29 was the last works car fielded by Ginetta during the Walklett brothers’ 31-year tenure.

Ginetta G32

The introduction of this mid-engined machine in 1989 marked a return to Type Approved production cars for this British minnow. Rooted in an earlier prototype, the G25, it boasted a glassfibre body, tubular-steel chassis, and a four-cylinder engine robbed from the Ford Escort XR3i.

It was keenly priced and met with guarded praise by the mainstream media, but it never quite hit the high notes following a change of ownership. Three of the four Walklett brothers sold out in 1990, with only designer Ivor Walklett staying on under the new regime. Larger-engined G32 plus a convertible variant followed, but just 115 or so cars of all kinds were made to ’92 as emphasis switched to the front-engined, Rover V8-powered G33 TVR rival.

AutoFact: A turbocharged 1.6-litre G32 prototype was made, but it remained unique.

Pictures courtesy of Rota Archive

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