Can’t tell you how glad I am to have driven the new Ginetta G40R; to have met the people and specifically the man behind the company – the amicable but exceedingly rich Lawrence Tomlinson – and to have read how enthused you lot are about it all.
In many ways Ginetta feels to me like a new, improved version of TVR. Its aim is to produce sportscars that are relatively simple in their design and ambition, but which satisfy their drivers in a way that no mass-produced machine ever could. And the chap behind it all, LNT as he’s known, is truly a chip off the old block when it comes to liking what he says, and saying what he bloody well likes, much like Peter Wheeler was back in his day.
Take this, which is what Tomlinson thinks about cars with paddles. “Paddles are brilliant – so long as you’ve got a left pedal. Take away the left pedal and it’s like chopping the driver’s balls off because you’ve lost all proper control of the car. I’m not a big fan of paddles on the road, to be honest, because how often do you honestly ever use them?’
I don’t entirely agree with him, as you probably know, but in this case that’s hardly the point.
Or how about this. “I’m not going to create an MX5. Our thing is to make a car that you can drive to the circuit in, put a different set of tyres on maybe, fly round the circuit, go as fast or faster than a Murcielago, then bolt your road tyres back on and drive home in, having spent a tenth of the money in the process.”
What’s most refreshing of all about Lawrence Tomlinson’s new Ginetta, though, is how much of an open shop his business appears to be. I spent a day at the factory recently and there was a real vibrancy to the place. Be it the thinkers in the design rooms, tapping away at their computers, or the machinists down below – to a man (and plenty of women, too) the staff working for Tomlinson seem happy; each and every one of them lit up when LNT walked their way.
That’s a great sign, no matter how simple it may seem, and it’s not one you see too often in a business that employs over 1200 people in 2011 (not all of whom work for Ginetta, it must be said; Tomlinson is an entrepreneur of some magnitude and is one of the bosses of the so-called Yorkshire Mafia).
And the great thing is, the best is very much yet to come from Ginetta Cars, and Ginetta Supercars. Just so long as the world economy doesn’t eat us all up in the meantime, they could really go places in the next 5-10 years.