Safari News

Great Garages – The Cars of Jim Glickenhaus

by | Aug 3, 2015

Between small colorful houses, tucked away just off the highway, where the streets roll and rise like the lesser hills of San Francisco, one can find themselves, if they are lucky, before an innocuous, beige building. It is the kind that never seems to be the destination, but to those who know what is inside, it is a treasure trove, a place that is to the car lover what the sands of Egypt are to the archaeologist, what the Acropolis is to the art historian.

Step through the far door, and you’re standing in the garage of Jim Glickenhaus, movie director, sculptor, and most universally, car enthusiast. Though some of the collection is currently at Glickenhaus’ overseas factory in Italy, he has not let a collector car out of his ownership since the very first, a Ferrari 275 GTB that he sold in 1972, after putting on over 65,000 miles. Since then, his collection has only expanded, coming to include the ex-queen of Yugoslavia’s 1931 Duesenberg and the Baja Boot, a prototype by GM designed to compete with Jeep, which they gave to Steve McQueen, who raced it in the Baja 1000 for over a decade. It also boasts three models that raced in the 1967 Le Mans, a Ford GT40 Mark IV J6, the Ferrari P12, and, a jewel in the crown of Glickenhaus’ collection, the Ferrari P3/4 0846.

GC-DSC02768For Glickenhaus, the P3/4 has proven to be a major step in a journey that has led him to collaborations with Pininfarina, racing at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and starting his own racecar company, SCG Automotive, responsible for the SCG 003. The P3/4 is a car that has provided inspiration and nostalgia, and shown just how complicated and unique the history of race cars can be.

The history of the P3/4 is perhaps even more complicated than most. In the early 2000s, Glickenhaus purchased a Ferrari 330 P4 and brought it back to New York from London, to set about restoration. Over the next two years, questions began to arise about whether the car was originally a P3 chassis, fitted with a P4 motor. In 2002, the number 0846 was discovered on the firewall of the car – a number used to designate P5s.

The 0846 racecar was known to have survived two major crashes. In 1967, at the Targa Floria, it slid off the road and crashed into the curb, damaging the right side. Later that same year, Chris Amon drove the car in Le Mans, and sustained a punctured tire, which eventually lead to the car catching fire and Amon jumping to safety, as it rolled into a ditch at more than 50 miles per hour. Evidence of repairs to the chassis tubes, following this crash, was found during the 2000s restoration. The more work that was done on the car, the more proof supported the theory that parts of both the P3 and P4 were used on the model, throughout the course of its racing career and later.

GC-DSC02762“With all of these race cars, some have lead lot harder lives than others,” Glickenhaus explains, “it flipped, it crashed, it caught on fire, it burned…To me these are really pieces of history and they’re stories.”

It also lead to some of the fundamental style influences on Glickenhaus’ next major project. In 2005, a call from Pininfarina gave him the option of designing and producing his own car. It appealed to the part of him that had restored the Lola  T70 Sl 71-32, which he bought from Andy Warhol,  converting it from an open cockpit to closed, and of course, the part of him that had restored the P3/4, learning the extensive history of it along the way. For Pininfarina, it was a way to show that their designs were still relevant and interesting, a response to the increasing public opinion that they had lost their styling abilities of yesteryear.

It also proved to the be the perfect platform for Glickenhaus to meld the modern technology of today’s cars, with the accessibility of racing and performance that were so important in the era of the P3/4. Thus the P4/5, an homage to the P3/4 and racing of its time, was brought into existence. Designed over the Ferrari Enzo, the most recent model at the time, it blended nostalgia and modern technology, and allowed Glickenhaus to follow the route of combining Grand Touring cars, GTs, and Le Mans Prototypes, LMPs.

“I think left to my own I would have made Ferrari P4/5 a lot more retro than it turned out,” he says, of the original P4/5 designs. “They pushed me to make it more modern and to make it stand on its own…What we’ve tried to do is perhaps sacrifice a little bit of ultimate performance to try and keep some of the nice looking part of it.”

The P4/5 would soon become the P4/5 Competizione, based on a Ferrari 430 Scuderia and 430 Scuderia GT2. It would go on to place 39th, and 2nd in its class, the experimental E1-XP2 category, at the 2011 Nürburgring 24 Hours. The following year, the P4/5 Competizione M, as it was called after a series of modifications, went on to place 12th overall, and first in the same class, a resounding victory for an independent car production team.

From his two years at Nurburgring with the Competizione, Glickenhaus and his team learned a lot about the world of 24 hour racing, lessons that they would take with them as they embarked upon their next project, the 003.

“Nuremberg is brutal,” Glickenhaus says, “you can’t make a mistake, because you may go off and have a serious crash… At the end of the race there were many cars that couldn’t go another lap without falling apart, and that’s the key – to make a durable car.”

It is a lesson that benefited them as they spent the last year on their most recent endeavour, the 003, a car entirely independent from Ferrari and Pininfarina, though arguably the product of the many years devoted to understanding, restoring, and producing race cars.

SCG_003S_Stradale_05Unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March, two 003 models were set to race at this year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours in May. During a qualifying round before the race, ‘Macchinadue’, owned by Christopher Rudd, crashed into a guardrail at 120 miles per hour. Though driver, Ken Dobson, fortunately walked away without injury, the car was unable to compete in the race. ‘Macchinauno’, Glickenhaus’ own car, was one of 102 cars, out of 151, to complete the race. They finished in 35th place, after speeding offenses in the limited zones set back their times, and mechanical issues with the alternator, one of the few pieces not built by SCG Automotive, failed time and again throughout the course of the race.

As with his efforts on the P4/5 Competizione, however, Glickenhaus has every intention of performing better next year, though obviously with modifications.

“We’re going to be faster,” he says, without hesitation. “I think there’s a chance we could [win]. I’m not saying we will, but we absolutely could win the 24 hours of Nuremberg. This car could not have won, it was not there, but the SCG 003 is right at the top, no question.”

In the interim, the street version of the 003, the 003 S for Stradale, is set to go on sale this fall, with the goal to sell about ten models. The larger goal, however, is that sweet spot of LMP and GT racecar – the car you can drive to the track, race, and drive back home, and the feel of 1960s racing that is visible in all of the work Glickenhaus produces. In today’s modern racing world, his efforts make a statement, a reminder of the old days of speed and the accessibility of the racecar.

GC-DSC02741“I think we can make it easy, drivable, streetable car, with a certain je ne sais quoi,” Glickenhaus says of the 003S. “The key is to make a pretty GT car with LMP1 influence. If we are able down the road to make an LMP1, to make it pretty. That’s the hardest thing to do.”

For anyone who doubts Glickenhaus’ dedication to the sentiment behind streetable racecars, just keep an eye on those winding roads just off the highway. Every single car in his collection is street legal, and he drives them regularly, from the Queen’s diamond and ruby studded Dusenburg, to the Ferrari 159S 002 – the world’s oldest Ferrari.

And if you’re really lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Lola T70 or the Ferrari P3/4 – the two cars that started Jim Glickenhaus on a journey, bringing to modern technology history’s passion for racing.

Image top right by Tomm Scalera – Interior of garage

Image top left by Tomm Scalera – Ferrari P3/4

Image bottom left via SCG Automotive – SCG 003 

Image bottom right by Tomm Scalera – Jim Glickenhaus and his 1931 Duesenberg 

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