The man who took on Ferrari Glickenhaus SCG 003. Ferrari-mad millionaire builds his own race/road car. When Ferrari refused to supply “him ‘with parts for his race car, Jim Glickenhaus decided to build one from scratch – and take the fight to the big boys. Photography Lies De Mol.
Jim Glickenhaus is a New Yorker. Well, actually he’s from Connecticut, but New York is where he calls home. And, true to the New York stereotype, he doesn’t take crap from anyone. So when Ferrari threatened him with legal action for calling his much-modified 430 Scuderia-based race car a Ferrari, Jim’s letter was short and to the point. ‘Dudes, I bought this car. Legally, it’s a Ferrari. I can put a Ferrari badge on it if I want.’
The lawyers then changed tack. They claimed that his race team’s shield logo was imitating Ferrari’s. Jim was unfazed. He offered to replace the Ferrari badge on the nose with his own. ‘Guess what happened when we informed the Nurburgring guys that our car wouldn’t be a Ferrari, but a Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus? Nothing. Ferrari was convinced we could never race without their badge. Turned out nobody cared. Ferrari believes the world stops when they talk. It doesn’t.’
Clockwise from right. ‘No more photos, please!’ Crew member Dario Pergolini closes the garage door during testing at Vairano, Italy, on 18 December 2014; Christopher Ruud has his seat moulded around him; dash features video ‘mirrors’.
But when it comes to run-ins with Ferrari, Jim Glickenhaus has form. At the 2006 Paris motor show, he revealed a car he dubbed the P4/5. An obvious homage to the great P-series Ferraris of the 1960s – and Jim already owned a genuine 1966 Ferrari P3/4 – it was based on the last Enzo ever made and bodied by Pininfarina. Rumour has it that Ferrari was not best pleased but, given that it was effectively a rebodied Enzo, they couldn’t do much about it.
Jim loved the P4/5 and had ideas of taking it racing. But there were major problems. He couldn’t get it homologated for any of the major race series, the V12 engine would be much too thirsty for an endurance event, and the Enzo’s chassis wasn’t ideal for a race car’s. So that’s how he ended up with a modified and rebodied 430 Scuderia, which he called the P4/5 Competizione. When Ferrari refused to supply him with spares, he simply bought an entire GT2 team that had retired from racing. Plenty of spares, and a Spa class-winning 430 Scuderia GT2 thrown in.
He still wasn’t happy, however. As a race car, the 430 had limitations. ‘At the end of the (Nurburgring) 24 Hours race in 2011, the suspension attachment points were in a critical state. Another two laps and we would have lost the wheels.’ The solution was obvious. Build another one-off.
That’s how the SCG 003 came into being. Named after the initials of Jim’s race team, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus – Cameron is his wife Meg’s maiden name – SCG 003 has followed an unbelievably tortuous route to fruition. And it’s a route that has been charted from day one by the husband-and-wife team of Bart Lenaerts and Lies De Mol, who – at their own expense; this is no vanity project – have put together a superbly stylish book about it. If you’ve ever wondered how you go about starting your own car marque from scratch, this is the book for you; details of how to get hold of a copy are at the end of this feature.
To understand Jim’s approach to cars and driving – and racing – you first need to look at his back story. He started at age 15 by shoehoming a Pontiac V8 into a scrap Studebaker and going drag racing. Then, as a student, he bought a VW Beetle and travelled the country with his girlfriend Meg – the future Mrs Glickenhaus. ‘I’ve spent more nights in the Bug than in hotel rooms,’ he claims. ‘We even took it to Woodstock.’
By his early 20s, Jim had traded up to a Ferrari 275GTB long nose, which became his daily driver. It was only sold to raise funds for a Penske Lola, the winner of seven CanAm races. Jim says he was fascinated by the idea of making this monster road-legal. ‘So that’s what I did. It kept me happy for 20 years. I’ve clocked 60,000 miles with the Lola, and I’ve been doing this trick ever since.’
During the 1970s and ’80s, cars took a metaphorical back seat while Jim moved to California to pursue a career producing films. They may not have given Spielberg or Scorsese sleepless nights – as evidence we’d cite Frankenhooker, which was billed as ‘A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts’ – but they made money and brought Jim success of a kind. But eventually he got fed up with the ruthless sycophancy of La-La land, and returned to New York to join his father in the family business on Wall Street.
The move back East rekindled his love of cars. Today he has a small but select collection that includes a Ferrari 159S – the third Ferrari ever built and now the oldest survivor; the aforementioned P3/4, which won the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours; the Dino 206 Competition prototype; and, most recently, the Pininfarina Modulo concept that was featured in Octane 123. This and the Dino 206 both came direct from Pininfarina’s own collection, which is a telling indication of the respect the Italian design house has for its one-time client.
Sadly, when Andrea Pininfarina died in a scooter crash in August 2008, the impetus for the carrozzeria to build further one-offs died with him. Paolo Garella, the engineer who had headed the tiny department dealing with such commissions, had worked with Jim on the P4/5 and continued to do so under his own name when Jim proposed the new race car project.
Compared with how it ended up, SCG 003 looked almost straightforward at the start. The plan was to take an Alfa 4C carbonfibre chassis and slot in a Maserati twin-turbo V6. Selecting a relatively small-capacity engine was a no-brainer for Jim.
‘LaFerrari weighs far too much. Why on earth does it have a V12? Because of their history? Wow. Get over it.
A modem Formula 1 car has a 1.6-litre turbocharged V6.
I own a few V12s and obviously love them, but they’re dinosaurs. Why would I repeat such relics of the past?
A Maserati V6 seems the right choice.’
‘BY HIS EARLY 20S, JIM HAD TRADED UP TO A FERRARI 275, HIS DAILY DRIVER’
For a while, everything looked rosy – or should that be rosso? Alfa Romeo’s CEO, Harald Wester, liked the idea. But then the situation turned sour. Guess what: Ferrari objected to Alfa and Maserati supplying parts for a one- off. It was back to square one.
The collapse of the Alfa/Maserati deal actually did Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus a favour, because it removed the inevitable compromises that would have arisen from adopting an existing chassis. Instead, SCG decided it would make its own. Or, rather, it would have one built, by a company that makes carbonfibre monopostos as well as parts for certain well-known Italian supercars.
The all-important body design, meanwhile, was in the hands of Turin-based Granstudio, run by former Pininfarina design director Lowie Vermeersch, with chief stylist Goran Popovic wielding the pen. As the project progressed, many more specialists – in electronics, in suspension set-up, in chassis design – were recruited. They were often young, and author Bart Lenaerts, who sat in on many of the meetings, says that working with these small and enthusiastic teams was a hugely exciting time – much like the Maserati brothers or Enzo himself would have operated when they started out.
The design of SGC 003 was one of the most difficult aspects of the project. Not in the sense of creating a good look but because Jim’s new car had to fulfil two wildly different briefs. It had to be competitive in racing, and it had to be usable on the street. Ever since his youthful days with the Lola, the concept of the daily-driver sports racer had been close to his heart.
The demands of racing meant that aerodynamics and downforce would be absolutely crucial. Initially the styling sketches were whittled down to two very distinct proposals, referred to as B and D. The first one was more conventionally supercar-beautiful; as Jim remarked, it would make headlines at Villa d’Este.
Proposal D was a world apart – almost literally. With its long, narrow snout and separate wings, it had the alien quality typical of LMP racers, without resembling anything else that was out on the circuit. Jim summed it up like this: ‘D looks like what happened when people saw cubism for the first time. It gives you a peek at the future. Audi and Porsche will panic if we unload this in the paddock. They’ll wonder how we managed to do it. I admit, challenging the big guys is a lot of fun.’
There were other considerations. The aerodynamics of B would give it a higher top speed, but D would have much greater downforce, a vital factor for a race car. And then there are the apparently trivial features that a road car needs before it can be legally registered but which are superfluous on a racer – wing mirrors, for example. Jim worked out that Montana was the US state with the most lenient attitude, and double-checked that the New York authorities didn’t have a problem with a car registered in Montana. They didn’t.
When the basic design had been thrashed out, yet another niche company in yet another anonymous Italian industrial estate was tasked with producing a full-size 3D model in white expanded foam, pictured on page 147. Jim was a happy man. ‘No-one has ever produced an LMP-like GT. Why not? It’s so logical. There’s nothing cooler than an Audi LMP1, except that it’s ugly as hell and more complex than Battlestar Galactica. So we dared to wonder if we could make something similar, but simpler, road-legal and good looking. I think we can.’
The advantage of having a small team is that it can be flexible – and SCG 003 pushed that flexibility to the limit. With Maserati’s V6 no longer an option, an alternative had to be found. The Honda Performance Development (HPD) twin-turbo V6, already proven on
‘AUDI AND PORSCHE WILL PANIC IF WE UNLOAD THIS IN THE PADDOCK’
American circuits such as Sebring and Daytona, had just been announced in 500-plus bhp, 3.5-litre form.
Honda was happy to supply it but – inevitably – there was a hitch: emission regs meant that it couldn’t be used in a road car in the USA. So, for the time being, SCG 003 is for track use only, and both examples are fitted with this engine rather than the twin-turbo Audi W12 that was favoured as an option for the street version.
‘Both’ examples? Yes – as the photos on this page show, there are two completed SCG 003s in existence. One is black – Jim’s own car – and the other is yellow and owned by Christopher Ruud, VP of the family’s industrial lighting business. And here is another example of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus bending with the wind. At the outset, Jim was adamant that he didn’t want to make more than one SCG 003. For him, a major part of the appeal was that it should be unique.
But Jim is a pragmatist, and he quickly came to realise that selling further examples would bring major benefits. Obviously it would help offset the costs of the project, but money was never the motivation here. More important was the opportunity it would open up for the car to be homologated for major race series, including that ultimate goal – the Le Mans 24 Hours.
So the plan now is to offer two versions of SCG 003: Stradale and Competizione. Either will cost €2-2.5m and both will be easily convertible to the alternative spec. ‘Jim has this romantic idea,’ says Bart Lenaerts, ‘of competing in the 24 Hours, converting his car to Stradale specification in the paddock after the race, then driving straight to Paris for oysters on the Champs Elysees.’
To judge from his track record to date, we wouldn’t put it past him.
It’s been A steep learning curve for the Scuderia. A crash during the first testing of Jim’s car at Vallelunga in January this year – due, it seems, to nothing more sinister than a spin on cold tyres – meant that the bulk of the test programme had to be shifted onto Chris’s example, the first customer car. After the crash, at least, problems with a duff Bosch ECU and a minor engine fire didn’t seem all that important.
Both cars also made it to the halls of the 2015 Geneva motor show, where Jim couldn’t stop beaming at the sight of the huge Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus sign hanging alongside those of more established marques. Not surprisingly, his cars were closely scrutinised by a certain Ron Dennis – not to mention Horatio Pagani, Christian von Koenigsegg, Jean Todt and a whole bunch of guys from Audi’s racing department.
Chris Ruud, meanwhile, is in no doubt about why he chose an SCG 003 over any another race car. ‘I could have bought a BMW, Audi, Porsche or Ferrari GT3. It would have been cheaper, for sure. But then I would be stuck with what they give me. Here we are slightly part of the decision-making process. That’s pretty cool.
‘In 60 years from now, the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus could well be what Ferrari is today. And, no matter what happens, I will always remain their first customer.’
INSIDE SCG 003
Is produced by Bart Lenaerts and Lies De Mol and is a two-volume set, limited to 500 copies. The first book on the development of SCG 003 has been released and the second – covering its 2015 racing activities – will be published later this year.
Bonuses include a personalised engraved plate, and a QR code to make a 3D printed model of SCG 003! Every buyer will also have their name on the car during the 2015 Nurburgring 24 Hours.
The set costs €280 and is only available from www.waft.be.
Two examples of the SCG 003 have been completed to date, and both were captured during testing at the Nurburgring in April by local photographer Hide Shurazero, ahead of the all-important 24 Hours in May.
‘AUDI AND PORSCHE WILL PANIC IF WE UNLOAD THIS IN THE PADDOCK’
2015 Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG 003
ENGINE Honda HPD 3.5-litre all-alloy SOHC V6, twin turbochargers, direct fuel injection
POWER 530 bhp @ 6800rpm
TORQUE 516 lb ft @ 4500rpm
TRANSMISSION Hewland six-speed sequential, rear-wheel drive
STEERING Rack and pinion
SUSPENSION Front and rear: double wishbones, pushrod-actuated coilsprings and dampers, anti-rollbar
BRAKES APRacing vented discs
PERFORMANCE Top speed 200+mph
Above and right Jim Glickenhaus surrounded by a few of his toys, including the Ferrari P3/4 and, behind it, the ex-Steve McQueen Baja Boot; initial unveiling of a full-size foam model of SCG 003.