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“This Ginetta is a car which attracts those of us with a bit of "racer", for that seating position and the likeness to the racing Ginettas just cannot help but make your heart pump a little faster, encouraging you to take that corner "flat" next time.” Motor Sport magazine, January 1969.
Founded in 1958 by the four Walklett brothers (never work with one brother never mind three), Ginetta aimed to tap into the burgeoning market for small, lightweight sports/GT cars for the informed enthusiast while also offering a few out and out race machines. The use of as many proprietary components as possible on the road cars somewhat offset the lack of any sort of economy of scale though these were never cheap machines at £1 shy of £900 when launched, despite the dodging of a certain amount of tax by offering them in self-assembly form. Often portrayed as existing in the shadow of the ebullient Colin Chapman’s Lotus, in many way Ginetta deserves to be seen not as the ‘poor man’s’ version but perhaps the ‘thinking man’s’.
Developed from the gorgeous G12 racer, the G15 utilised the tried and tested Triumph Herald front uprights, steering rack and brakes beloved of virtually everyone who couldn’t afford to design and produce their own. These were bolted onto Ginetta’s bespoke tubular steel chassis in the rear of which nestled the power-train and suspension components borrowed from the Hillman Imp. Ironically, given their links to Lotus, the Imp’s all-aluminium over-head cam engine could trace its roots (Rootes?) back to Coventry Climax who provided power units for so many of Chapman’s road and race cars in the 1950s and ‘60s. The ultra-lightweight (176lb including transmission) unit was utilised in 875cc, twin Stromberg, 55 bhp, ‘Imp Sport’ specification (unless the massive 998cc lump was inserted for the G15 ‘S’) and it gave the 1200lb GT a 100mph top speed with urgent if not blistering acceleration.
Period advertising emphasised both a high specification (two-speed wipers, an oil cooler and even carpets – watch out Rolls Royce) and also the G15’s active and passive safety features (incident avoiding handling, strong tubular steel chassis, collapsible steering column and laminated front and rear ‘screens) while pointing out that the lack of a prop. shaft freed up valuable cabin space – just as well given the absence of any sort of boot at all, front or rear.
With a more than capable coil sprung, all independently suspended chassis and brakes designed to slow far greater mass than that of the fiberglass bodied G15, the potential for tuning the engine (something it was eminently suited to with steel crank and rods in standard form) was something that many an owner exploited and JNX 112L was no exception. The weighty history file is jammed with invoices and correspondence going back over the decades and testifying that this is a car that has been tweaked and finessed for the majority of its life, from the tuning of its original 875cc Sport engine with a Piper Cam and Stage two cylinder head in the 1970s, through to acquiring a 998cc unit in early 1981. This very trick engine was built around a brand new crack tested and strengthened wet liner block, new tuftrided and balanced crank, new modified rods, new modified pistons. This mouth-watering collection of goodies was topped off with a ‘full race’ cylinder head sporting 1.4” inlet and 1.125” exhaust valves along with Wills Rings, a sensible precaution with highly tuned, high compression all aluminium engines. A lightened flywheel, competition clutch and high-capacity sump completed the impressive specification. Camshafts (R21 and R17) were apparently swapped in and out depending on road or track requirements and the then owner stated it produced some 95bhp on twin 1 ½” SU carburettors while spinning to beyond 9,000 rpm. Today the engine inhales through a pair of 40 DCOE Weber carburettors and a dynamometer print out from MB Motors shows 103bhp being produced at 6,666 rpm with a commendably flat torque curve giving between 70 and 80 lb ft. consistently between 3,000 and 6500 rpm. Unfortunately this is not dated but it would suggest the current engine is a development of that run in the car since the early 1980s. It is worth noting that according to the file, the engine has been refreshed a number of times since then and has apparently covered just 3,400 miles since this was last carried out.
A quick scan through the copious receipts and invoices reveals the G15 was apparently once finished in Chrysler ‘Sundance Yellow’ and was repainted ‘Tartan Red’ by Rickmansworth Sports Cars back in 2004. Bills from Ginetta, Cottage Classics and tuning parts gurus, Ripspeed and Deemon Tweaks are also present along with a note dated January 1988 confirming the purchase of an ‘Ex works, straight cut, close ratio gearbox’ for £150. Also in the File are V5s of various vintages plus a full DVLA ownership history trace, analysis of which reveals that JNX had just one owner for almost 30 years of its life, a Mr Brian Martin. Mr Martin pieced together much of the information on file regarding the car’s history and specification by contacting previous owners, in particular Graham Marks, one of the very first Ginetta Owners Club members in 1978, who was responsible for the original extensive engine work in the early 1980s. Some thirteen old MOTs are also present tracking the change of colour and engine size along with the G15’s mileage; by 1989 93,000 miles were showing with apparently just a further 3,600 added since then.
Enough book worming though and onto the ‘plastic fantastic’ itself; filled to the gunwales with competition goodies – twin 40s, cage, harness’, aeroquip fuel and brake lines etc. etc. the little Ginetta strikes one as a purposeful machine that is just begging to be let of the leash, either in a suitably restrained fashion (a little bit of an oxymoron admittedly) on the road or perhaps on a Sprint or Hill-climb course or even as an out and out circuit racer.
Inside, lightweight Ginetta Factory ‘basket-weave’ bucket seats are in perfect condition just needing a little final tensioning and sticking of the vinyl. Lightweight and simple sliding Perspex windows with Mini-sourced catches allow elbow friendly quilted door bins; part Lancia Stratos, part Frogeye Sprite. Occupants are held in place by four-point harness’, the drivers a full aircraft buckle item by TRS while the less important co-driver has to make do with a Sabelt version. An Aleybars half cage correctly bolted to the chassis gives further personal security though without detracting from the generous stowage space available behind the seats mentioned above. The optional (for £35 back in the day) factory sunroof though small, fills the whole roof making the interior even more light and airy. A mix of AC and Smiths gauges (plus one Tudor voltmeter for good measure) is neatly arranged across the centre of the dashboard while a big Smiths 140 mph speedometer and matching tachometer can be seen through the alloy spokes of the chunky, shirt-button steering wheel, beautifully ‘lived in’ like a favourite pair of brogues. Simple but stylish, there is very little of the dreaded ‘kit car’ about the interior of the G15.
Back outside, the whole rear section of the car can be flipped up (though neatly modified hinges allow it to be removed completely in seconds) to reveal a very tidy and business-like engine bay. Blue silicone hoses, Microdynamics electronic ignition, a fuel pressure regulator and filter, twin throttle springs and alloy crankshaft pulley scribed with key timing marks all speak to the intensions of the car and standard of its preparation. The same story continues underneath with Aeroquip brake lines, rose joints and 14 way adjustable rear shock absorbers all adding to the car’s impressive standard specification while the whole shooting match is bolted to an apparently rock solid and well protected chassis.
Cosmetically the paintwork is best described as race-car standard with the newer red paint not adhering to the possibly original yellow in places; there are a few flakes and chips as shown in the photo gallery. As far as the bodywork goes, there is some localised crazing though this is quite limited and the panels are straight and ripple free, at least by fiberglass cars’ standards. A lovely large, centre mounted flip up fuel filler protrudes through the bonnet - all very 911ST (well, it is a rear engined sports car after all). Quality Cibie headlights show the way after dark and a set of one of the better Minilte-style alloys, KN Minators, maintain the 1960s/70s feel to the car. These are wrapped in band pimple-new Toyo Proxes - a good fast road/mild competition tyre.
In operation, again, the Ginetta’s competition roots are not far from the surface. With no key just flick-switch the ignition on, ditto the fuel pump, half a dozen pumps on the fairly stiff accelerator pedal and prod the starter button. Despite not much recent use the G15’s engine fires easily and with a bit of initial throttle juggling, it rasps away eagerly, gaining and loosing revs with alacrity.
Included in the sale is a useful spares package the highlights of which are: three driveshaft donuts, four road springs, heater matrix, set of spark plugs, oil thermostat, rear light lenses, brake pads, wheel bearings, rear view mirror, gear-lever, clutch actuating arm and a possibly original ammeter. A Ginetta Owners Club User Guide which contains a lot of useful straight talking advice regarding modifications, maintenance schedules and so on is also included.
Ideal for a range of activities from road rallies such as Le Jog or Three Castles, Sprints and Hill-climbs where it has recently been exercised or with minimal modification, HSCC's ‘70s Road Sports Championship (those Webers can stay apparently), this fantastic G15 comes both highly recommended and, we feel, realistically reserved (certainly relative to the only other car we could find currently on the market). With Ginetta’s 60th anniversary this year, and the active competition oriented manufacturer back racing at Le Mans, now could be time to join that exclusive band of owners.
Registration number: JNX 112L
Chassis Number: 15/0576
Engine Number: GT 24880