Best thing about my Ginetta? I know the people who built it
This article first appeared in Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Click here to subscribe and join the club.
I had heard about Ginettas in high school but had never seen one. Years later, after I had gone through a couple of Triumphs, a Mini, and a right-hand-drive Sunbeam Tiger, Ginetta was back on my radar screen. In 2002, we were living in California, but we didn’t have a fun car, so I went on a hunt—even placing an ad in the LA Times: “Interesting car wanted. RHD a plus. No automatics.”
That ad turned up some interesting cars, all right, but “interesting” in the sense of “May you live in interesting times.”
Meanwhile, through car magazines, the internet, and word of mouth, I found a Ginetta in a barn in East Anglia (in the East of England) in need of a total restoration. Who better to do the work than the Walklett family, founders of Ginetta in 1958? Their shop happened to be in East Anglia, so we struck a deal. Over the next nine months, they produced a new chassis, a modern Ford drivetrain, the body, and an interior.
During spring break, my son and I visited to check on progress, and closer to the end, I visited again. The car then spent three weeks at sea and several weeks clearing U.S. Customs before I was finally able to take possession.
We now drive the Ginetta around 900 miles a year, including to Monterey for Car Week and to informal car shows. With an empty tank, the car weighs 1399 pounds, and with 175 horsepower, Weber fuel injection, headers, four-wheel discs, four-wheel independent suspension, a five-speed transmission, and front/mid-engine layout, it drives like a slot car and sounds great. My son learned a lot about cars by tinkering with this one and is now a mechanical engineer working in chassis dynamics engineering.
The Ginetta is a car that gives us nearly as much pleasure to look at as to drive. And we’re still in touch with the Walkletts for parts and advice. How many people can say they know the actual people who built their car?
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That’s a really attractive car!
Great looking car! Us North Americans always default to large displacement engines and don’t appreciate what happens when you “add lightness”.
Exactly right, Peter. The Walkletts designed chassis and bodies (mostly fiberglass) and used motors from Ford, Lotus, and BMC. Their design philosophy was just like Colin Chapman’s: simplify, then add lightness.
Caption to the lower photo: This was at a Ginetta reunion held at Buttonwillow Raceway in California in September, 2007. From left to right: Mark Walklett, Julian Pitt, Dan Pitt, Ivor Walklett, Tom Walklett. There were 16 Ginettas there: 13 G4s and three G12s. We drove our car there; all the others were trailered. We got some sessions on the track but not racing per se. And the Walkletts gave me a little “warranty service”. Such nice people they are.