It’s hard to think of another company that has done more for modern British motor racing than Ginetta. Since being dragged back from the brink of oblivion in 2005 when racer and businessman Lawrence Tomlinson and his LNT Automotive concern bought the firm, Ginetta has been on something of an upwards curve in terms of both production and reputation.
What was previously a manufacturer of low-volume road cars has morphed into a motor sport powerhouse, running five single-make championships, competing in GT4 categories around the world, pioneering junior racing prototypes and even having a crack at Le Mans with its LMP1 programmes.
But at the heart of it all is the G40, the humble, affordable and hugely enjoyable smallest offering of the range. Used in both the long-running Ginetta Junior Championship (for 14-17-year-old drivers), the clubman G40 Cup and more senior GT5 Challenge categories, the G40 has sold by the bucketload since its introduction in 2010, with over 350 made so far. And you can even buy a road-going variant, the G40R, designed to take on the likes of Lotus and Caterham.
But the car will always be a racer at heart, so that’s what we’ll focus on. This is the much-improved sequel to Ginetta’s former small offering, the G20, which was developed as an open-topped racer during the firm’s previous management spell. That model spawned Ginetta’s range of championships, but by the late 2000s had started to look more than a little aged.
An update was needed, and it came in the form of the coupé G40. The ingredients were beautifully simple: a tubular steel spaceframe chassis with integrated crash structures and FIA rollcage, clothed in glassfibre bodywork to keep its cost and weight down, and topped off with adjustable suspension, a five-speed synchromesh gearbox and a 1.8 Ford Zetec engine up front that’s easily tunable to kick out anywhere from 100-155bhp (Motorsport UK rules restrict the Junior version to 100bhp, whereas Cup cars run at 130, and the full-fat GT5 at 155bhp). The end result is a mini GT car (hence its GT5 tag) that’s as challenging (no ABS, traction control or any of that stuff) as it is rewarding to get right.
Couple that with Ginetta’s keen pricing and race packages – you could have a brand-new G40, plus a full season of racing for circa £50,000 – it’s not difficult to see why this off-the-shelf approach to going sports-car racing has taken off in the manner it has.
One for sale
GT5 – Fully refreshed with less than one and a half hours on the engine and three sets of wheels and tyres.
Ginetta G40 statistics
Price new: £39,000-£45,000
Price now: £15,000-£35,000
Engine: 1800cc Ford Zetec, 2.0 Mazda (road car)
Rivals: Caterham Academy, Lotus Elise, Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport
Verdict: Its keen combination of price and performance, plus huge grids and versatility, helps make the G40 a star with strong second-hand values.