Driven: Ginetta G40R
Real racers don't drive road cars to the pub on Sunday...
Ginetta G40R costs from £29,995 and offers 208bhp/tonne
One of those things, as Lawrence points out in typically jocular fashion, was the not insignificant chance of said imaginary MGA driver missing the drive home from Oulton Park altogether, due to being dead or similarly inconvenienced. A risk that Ginetta's engineers have gone to decent lengths to minimise for customers of its new road-going racing car - the G40R.
That's because a full FIA-approved safety cage, made from laser-cut and TIG welded tubes, is the starting point for every G40 racer and thus also for its new sibling the G40R. They are essentially the same machine, the latter with lights and number plates. Oh, and a late substitution on the engine front because, instead of the racer's 1.8 litre, 150bhp Ford Zetec lump, the new road car has a zingy 1999cc 175bhp four lifted directly from the Mazda MX-5, along with its slick shifting six speed gearbox and differential. The Ginetta has a bespoke propshaft though, because at 3748mm nose-to-tail it's a tiny little thing. The latest MX-5 is 4020mm.
Fortunately the G40R's compact yet muscular GRP body means it's pretty enough to sell on looks alone, I reckon. At least from a reasonable distance. Up close, and certainly from inside the cabin, you quickly understand the difference between a road-prepared purpose built racing car like this, and even the most extreme version of any mass-produced hot hatch you'll get to play with. The car's not painted for starters, the six-part body shell comes instead with a gelcoat colour finish, and the shutlines are... well, not too bad actually. The lightweight door linings feel flimsy, and there's exposed roll cage all over the place (although not in the roof where a trim panel is fitted), and there's none of that 'exposed structure equals art' approach espoused by the Ariel Atom.
Also on the plus side are Ginetta racing seats and steering wheel, a heated windscreen, and a 200 litre boot that we happen to know can accommodate a finely-proportioned (if reasonably compact) adult female. Why you might want to know this too, we can't imagine, except perhaps as reassurance that tent, luggage and beer can all be carried on your Le Mans trip next year. (That 'golf bag' thing is so boring, isn't it?)
So, the little G40R is already heaps of fun (in case you were wondering), and we haven't even fired it up yet. Press the starter and the grin will widen instantly as the four cylinder rumbles and rattles life into the machine. 'Noise, Vibration and Harshness'? Yep, we've got plenty. If you want to listen to birdsong on your cross-country jaunts, then buy the MX-5 and find out how a bit of sound-deadening and a few creature comforts can add 400kgs to the weight of a sports car. And how taking off the roof lets so many noises escape from the cabin....
It weighs 795kgs, giving it 208bhp/tonne, and the sort of performance that will easily take your mind off the cacophony of mechanical, wind and road noises that flood the cabin. When you're in the mood and setting the car at a B-road like a bull in a china shop, it's entirely intoxicating. Although that Le Mans trip - or any significant high-speed 'cruising' - will probably require a set of ear plugs. (The Ginetta engineers are mulling the possibility of adding a bit of sound deadening over the back axle, but once you go down that road, where do you stop? Best leave it, perhaps, as it's all part of this car's special 'USP'.)
But you'll probably leave it in the hardcore track set-up, I reckon. Because if you buy one of the 100 G40Rs that Ginetta hopes to sell each year, you're probably half way to certifiable already. And if you're not predisposed to occasional bouts of maniacal laughter, after this you will be.