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Hillclimb hero

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Gus Carnegie tells Cheryl Livingstone about his 20-year love affair with the Ginetta marque

Retired chartered engineer Gus Carnegie has always had an interest in cars.

His first car was an ex-GPO Morris Minor Van, which he used to lug gear for his student band in Dundee.

Following a post grad year in Glasgow his first job was with Marconi working on the Nimrod Simulator and since he was earning a decent wage, he decided to buy a Mini Cooper.

It was around this time that Gus was introduced to the world of competitive racing.

The 68-year-old who now lives in Carrbridge, near Aviemore, said: “It was a guy that I went through university with that first mentioned it to me.

“I always had a hankering to take part in some kind of motorsport and this was what was on offer.

“It was always a great atmosphere. Everyone was really friendly and helpful but I still wanted to make sure I didn’t make any schoolboy errors.”

Gus competed in Auto tests and Road Rallies with the 750 Motor Club in Dundee for a number of years before moving up to Forest Rallies in the mid 1970s where he had some successes in the Granite City and Hackle Rallies.

Motorsport had to take a back seat, however, when Gus started a family.

“Bringing up three children didn’t leave me with very much time for myself and I had some spells working abroad so I had to stop doing it for a while,” he said.

His desire to own something from the Ginetta family didn’t take a back seat, though.

It was something he wanted to have since he first spotted the marque line-up at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1967 and it was a G15 that he was particularly after.

“In 1987, I spotted a Ginetta G15 in the small ads of our local paper in Edinburgh where we were living at the time.

“It’s just a beautiful car, it’s got beautiful lines and is quite elegant, I just loved it.

“I wanted something that I could get my hands dirty with, so when I found this one and realised it needed a bit of work, it was OK because I could do it myself.”

The restoration took just one winter to complete but it ended up needing a lot of TLC.

Gus said: “It was based on Hillman Imp running gear and I had rallied three of them in the past, so there was no problems for me working on it.

“I had restored two cars in the past so it wasn’t something totally new to me either.

“I like that side of things because it’s part of the preparation for racing the cars.

“It means if something goes wrong, I know it’s my fault. The other side of the coin is that if the race goes well, then it’s all down to me.”

After a visit to the Ginetta Owners Club annual general meeting weekend in Warwickshire, Gus spotted another car that he knew he had to have.

“I saw the whole range that weekend and really fancied one of the open-top cars to replace the G15 which was a fixed-head coupe,” he said.

“We only really used the car in the summer and the G15 could get quite hot when you were inside it because it had a fixed roof. So I thought it’d be great to get a soft top.”

Gus later found his soft top in 1993 after spotting an advert in the club magazine and bought it without even seeing it over the phone.

“It was a bit rash but I’ve owned it for 20 years now and have no regrets.”

The car in question was a 1982 Ginetta G4 which uses Ford Escort RS2000 running gear.

Luckily the car was in a pretty good condition and Gus planned to use it just as a summer car until a friend reintroduced him to the world of competitive racing.

“The late Nina Baker from Ellon persuaded him to try a hillclimb in 1994 and since then the car has done more than 150 events.

“We moved to Carrbridge about six years ago and I joined Aberdeen and District Motor Club and now compete at Fintray, Alford, Boyndie and Golspie. I am also treasurer for the Scottish Hillclimb and Sprint Championship.

“It’s a really sociable event. Everybody is always up for lending a hand and helping out.

“I like the car because you can compete and use it as your daily car. It’s a fun car to drive as well. It just acts like you would expect it to.”

The car itself is actually quite rare, being only one of two G4s in Scotland. Only around 18 were made of the model.

Now Gus plans to sell his beloved Ginetta to find himself a new car he can race in. He has decided to change classes in his Hill Climb challenges and needs a new car to accompany him.

“I think I will be sad to see it go,” he admitted.

“My wife Margaret doesn’t like driving the Ginetta and much preferred the MG Midget they had back in the 1970s so I might try and get one of them for the Hill Climbs again.”

First Car: Morris Minor Van

Dream car: A Lancia Stratos

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