Editor's note 18/06: An earlier version of this article stated that the G-Type was made from fibreglass, that is not true—it's an all-steel car, as is its stablemate, the Jensen F-Type.
In the case of the Jensen G-Type, pictures are worth 1000 words…each.
A shame, because it only takes a few hundred words to put this car into a meaningful perspective. I'd been confused by it for some time—is it a Jensen Jensen (Chrysler V8, Ferguson Research four-wheel-drive, and all that) or if it was a Jensen in name only.
Truth? Stranger than fiction, naturally.
Designed by the quite-popular-here Sir William Towns—yes, this is his fourth car featured here—according to the Jensen Owner's Club, the G-Type was to be an entry-level sporting car. Towns also had designed an angular replacement for the Interceptor—called the F-Type, I shit you not—that's just as good-looking as this prototype.
Oh, right. Prototype.
Building prototypes happens all the time, of course, but the small wrinkle in this story is that Jensen was kaput as an automaker in 1976. When was the G-Type body shell made? 1976.
The shell—and only the shell—was sold at Jensen's liquidation auction to Lynx Motors, the UK firm that seems to be able to make anything from scratch—on the level of lightweight reproduction Jaguar E-Types and XKSS models that are often bought by owners of the originals who don't want to track or tour in their original Jags.
None of this comes cheap, of course, but whereas something like a Superformance Coupe is more of a modern homage to the original race cars that's made usable for the street, in many cases, the Lynx cars eschew fancy materials in favour of a more traditional approach.
Anyway, if anyone could have taken the G-Type's metal shell and turned it into a working car, it was Lynx.
Originally intended to lean on Simca / Chrysler Europe parts, including a front-mounted 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine, Lynx engineered a number of components to fit and work inside the shell—no easy feat when the original plans had likely been fly-tipped.
Where to turn? Lotus, for the engine at least—not a bad choice considering it was peddling its own 4-cylinder wedges, the Excel and Eclat.
I'm not sure how Lynx managed to get the mechanical toothpaste, so to speak, back into the G-Type's tube, but the results were mixed. The only road test I could find of the car, in Classic Cars magazine and written by Jonathan Empson, has lines like the following:
"…both doors have reluctant (prototype) catches, and the passenger side in particular needs delicate external application of one's entire body weight to close it."
"As the driver, meanwhile, I have discovered that if I fasten my harness I can't reach the gull wing door overhead, and if I shut the door first I can't get into the harness..."
"At the next bump the door springs skyward, I instinctively grab for it and bring the car to a halt, my heart pounding. The G-type may well be quite happy motoring around with its doors open, looking predatory, but their self-opening trick is not to be recommended to anyone with a dicky ticker."
A neat exercise to resurrect a forgotten prototype, it's perhaps nice that the G-Type was given life that its creators never intended to—even if the results weren't up to the standard of a full production car.