Exotic Cars

Ginetta G4

Ginetta G4 sports car

 

Vintage fun… for the short and thin only.

At 160 pounds, I slipped less than gracefully into the Ginetta G4 as a group from Continental AutoSports in Chicago stood around watching. There were some obvious side bets as to whether I was actually going to get into the little race car, while others questioned the sanity of driving it on the street.

Kismet, fate, I had been at Road America only a few days before this drive, and I had seen another little Ginetta. Plentiful, easy to trip over, they have a presence few other cars can match, and walking around the diminutive machine, I couldn’t help compare the beautiful lines to the Porsche 904 or to Shelby’s Cobras, both of which are much bigger cars.

Founding in 1958, the owners, four brothers, busily turned out their little race/road machines to a niche market interested in speed and durability for motorsports events.  Their little racing cars terrorized tracks in Europe, regularly beating cars with larger engines through a combination of a tube chassis and fiberglass bodies.

Unlike the G1-3, the G4, or fourth series, was designed for both the track and road, retaining the fiberglass body and perspex rear and side windows to keep it light.

Always a top three finisher in the Sports Car Vintage Racing Association, this Ginetta G4 weights only 1000 pounds, is now powered by a 1600 all steel Lotus twin cam, and has been dynoed at 209.8HP @ 7300rpm.  I’ve done the math for you and that means predicted 0-60 time of about 2.7 seconds, but skinny tires mean probably closer to 5 seconds in the real-world.

Driving this Ginetta, it feels every bit of being in a serious race car.  Flip the ON switch, hit the START button, and the G4 roars to life, conveying more the feeling of a WW ll aircraft than a race car, and much more exciting than any modern day machine I’ve been in lately. Lots of vibration at a standstill, and I now understand how a martini feels inside a shaker.

Around the parking lot a for a few minutes, I quickly learned about a dog-geared transmission.  Dog engagement is normally used in racing cars where very fast shifts are necessary. Unlike double de-clutching, this type of setup means blipping the throttle to match engine revs, then quickly finding the next gear, without the necessity of pushing in the clutch.  How fun!  Dog gears, I found out later, have huge teeth on the transmission mechanism and due to their design, let’s you bang away at the shifter. Once you’ve pulled away from a stop, one can simply forget that 3rd pedal.

There are a ton of these cars available, all in various trims. From open cockpit to coupes, the G4 is as much fun as you can have for the money, and that’s not a lot. BAT has them currently somewhere between $30-50K, and that’s inexpensive for a wonderful track car that will keep up with almost anything. This particular 1963 Ginetta G4 has been set up for vintage racing, and though frightening fellow motorists on an early Sunday morning would be fun, this car longs for  club events and lapping days.

Ginetta G4 sports car

dashboard of car

car tire

Sports cars

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