True British Sports Cars
I first met Lawrence Tomlinson nearly 10 years ago at Brands Hatch, where his first words to me were…. “So, you’re the twat that crashed two of my cars into each other!”
His description and factual accuracy were spot on as I had recently T-boned one of his track prepared G40s into another one when I lost the back end at Silverstone in a moment of overconfidence weeks earlier. I guess it’s always nice to have some common ground when first meeting someone and we certainly had that!
Lawrence is a straight talking Yorkshireman as you may have gathered already, but somebody that you instantly warm to and admire, and he’s crafted Ginetta very much in his own image since purchasing the company in 2005. Based in Garforth, just outside Leeds, they’re a no-nonsense company that do away with unnecessary bullshit in the same way they do away with excess weight in their race cars, and the feeling you get when dealing with Ginetta in any capacity is that they’re a family, and it creates a unique and special atmosphere.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to do many track days with Ginetta and was even offered the opportunity to do a race season with them many moons ago, which I sadly had to decline at the time due to family commitments.
Lawrence also leant me his own personal G60 for a week back in 2012. I’m not entirely sure how or why that happened, but it was a very enjoyable few days driving around with a 3.7 litre Ford V6 behind your head in something that weighs about the same as an unopened chocolate advent calendar, with no power steering, no ABS and no traction control. That noise though! That certainly made up for any automotive luxuries, or nanny features as they’d describe them!
It’s fair to say that independent British sports car manufacturers are a dying breed and certainly something of a rarity these days, yet Ginetta continue to grow steadily doing what they do well. They don’t ever want to over produce cars and have the quality suffer.
They want to produce the right amount at their factory in Garforth, and manufacture a unique and special product for their unique and special customers. Over the years they have hand built more and more of the components that go into their cars, and as Lawrence says, “when you buy a British car from a British manufacturer that’s owned by a British guy…. it is a British car”. It may sound like he’s stating the obvious, but in the modern world of multinational ownership, component manufacture and assembly of traditional British marques, to have the vast majority of the work done in Garforth is a credit to Ginetta and what they stand for.
The company celebrates its 60th birthday this year and it seemed a fitting time to produce this film and celebrate their legacy and continued success. The access to the factory and to Blyton Park in Lincolnshire that they recently purchased allowed us to really get under the skin of the company, and hopefully paint an accurate picture of who they are in 2018 and where they’re going beyond this point.
They’ve come a long way since the Walklett brothers gave birth to the company in 1958, but have never lost sight of their heritage and the vision of the Walkletts that provided the strong platform upon which they move forward.
Le Mans has always been hugely significant and influential to Lawrence and been a stage for the company to showcase its ability to massively punch above its weight while rubbing shoulders with the big boys. In January this year they launched their first ever LMP1 car which will be competing at circuit de la Sarthe in June, and this is a bold statement of intent from Lawrence and his team.
If they won Le Mans with this car, it would be next level stuff for Ginetta and people would have to sit up and listen. If they were to be victorious there, it would be a real tale of David versus Goliath as the odds are always going to be stacked against them, but they have a good car with a half decent chance so why not?
With Yorkshire grit and determination, combined with their technical expertise and racing heritage you wouldn’t bet against them, and by ‘eck they’d bloody love it as would everybody associated with them!
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