Lot #15: 1960 Scarab Grand Prix car by Reventlow Automobiles Inc (Not Available)
One of the two 1960 Scarab Grand Prix cars by Reventlow Automobiles Inc
- The very first all-American Formula 1 challenger
- Raced by the Lance Reventlow Formula 1 team in 1960
- Driven by hard-charging driver Chuck Daigh in period
- Powered by the original desmodromic DOHC racing engine
- Painstakingly restored involving original RAI team members
- Original engine rebuilt and dyno-tuned by Chuck Daigh
- Incredible part of American and International racing history
- Built at the California facility that would later house Shelby American
|True Mileage:||TMU (Racing car)|
The incredibly historic, all-American product of California's finest racers, fabricators, and mechanics, representing Lance Reventlow's singular drive to take on the world's best in Formula 1. Beautifully engineered and constructed, and painstakingly restored to match. Powered by the original desmodromic DOHC inline four-cylinder engine designed by Leo Goosen of Meyer-Drake/Offenhaser renown, rebuilt and tested by the car's original racing driver, Chuck Daigh. Driven by the greatest names in racing, including Mr. Daigh, Richie Ginther, Stirling Moss, and of course, Lance Reventlow.
Specifications: 2.5-litre DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with desmodromic valve actuation and Hilborn fuel injection, 267 bhp at 6,500 rpm, ladder-type four-tube steel chassis with triangulated bays, front-mounted transmission with quick-change rear differential, four-wheel independent suspension with triangulated arms and trailing arms and coil over shock absorbers plus anti-sway bars, four-wheel Girling hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,286 mm (90")
Reventlow Automobiles Inc.
After gaining invaluable experience driving Formula 2 cars in Europe in 1956, Lance Reventlow returned to America in 1957 and set to work establishing Reventlow Automobiles Inc. (RAI), his own race-car manufacturing business. Drawing on his network of personal connections and the rich talent pool of engineers, fabricators, mechanics, and drivers based in California, with many of them now available in the wake of the 1957 AMA racing ban, Reventlow organized an all-American "dream team" that designed, built, and developed its first Chevy-powered sports car - exotically dubbed "Scarab" - in just five months' time at Warren Olson's racing shop in West Los Angeles. Following a brief period of teething pains, Reventlow and his Scarabs soon dominated their class in SCCA competition during 1958, especially on the West Coast, with the upstart team's victory run including the Riverside Grand Prix and the Nassau Speed Week. Having bested the favored Briggs Cunningham team's Lister-Jaguars and the best Ferraris, Reventlow set his sights on Europe's masters and the world's top racing events.
The F1 Scarabs
Reventlow's confidence was well founded with his Scarabs visually beautiful, masterfully constructed, and devastatingly effective. Only the terrible tragedies at Le Mans in 1955 and the Mille Miglia in 1957, with shocking spectator casualties and deaths, could blunt Reventlow's charge. Since the FIA decreed a three-litre limit for sports cars beginning in 1958, the five-litre Scarabs were disqualified before they could even compete in Europe. Undaunted, Reventlow decided to enter Formula 1 and sold off the Scarab sports-cars after they scored their final victory in December 1958. While electrifying and encouraged by the American press, the Scarab Formula 1 effort was, as eloquently written by B.S. Levy, "...doomed before it started as it was hopelessly over-ambitious and philosophically flawed. To make matters worse, the RAI crew was caught in a sea change of Formula One technology that found the traditional front-engine machines from Ferrari, Maserati, Vanwall and BRM beginning to be outclassed and out-maneuvered, literally, by the smaller, lighter and far nimbler rear-engine Coopers. Another problem for the Scarab team was Reventlow's overly idealistic sense of
patriotism. In spite of the fact that all the existing Formula One component suppliers were in Europe, Lance committed to a strictly all-American race car."
Leo Goosen of Meyer-Drake Offenhauser fame was selected to design a 2.5-litre engine for the F1 Scarab, an inline, DOHC four-cylinder unit with Hilborn fuel injection and Indy Roadster-style "lay-down" placement yielding a low frontal area. Valve actuation was by a Mercedes-Benz style desmodromic system that employed positive cam action rather than conventional valve springs. RAI's General Manager Warren Olsen tapped the young aircraft designer Marshall Whitfield to lay out the chassis. A clean and sleek front-engine design, the F1 Scarab was his first racing car chassis! Development progessed slowly through 1959 and precious time was lost, with the team even unable to participate in the Grand Prix race for the 1959 season at Sebring, Florida.
As Mr. Levy stated in his work on the Scarab F1 effort, "The fact that Bruce McLaren and Maurice Trintignant finished one-two in Coopers at that Sebring race and Jack Brabham literally pushed another across the line to take 4th and seal his and Cooper's first World Championship, only served to underscore that the "new" all American Scarab was already hopelessly behind the curve. Worse yet, there had been statements from FIA headquarters in Paris - the first coming as early as October of 1958 - that the current 2.5 liter cars had become too fast and dangerous and a new 1.5 liter Grand Prix formula would be adopted for 1961. Despite these declarations, many, including Lance Reventlow, doubted the FIA would ever relegate the finest drivers in the world and its most important championship to such "toys". But with the FIA, you never knew."
Eventually the Scarab was completed and test days at Riverside were encouraging with a three-litre "Offy" powering it in place of the still-incomplete "desmo" unit, giving the team the confidence to continue planning for the upcoming 1960 season.
The Scarabs Take on Europe
The first race was at Monaco, the tight and challenging street circuit where the new rear-engine cars enjoyed an advantage. There, Scarab drivers Chuck Daigh and Reventlow struggled to learn the circuit while dealing with braking gremlins. While technically sophisticated, the desmodromic Scarab engines were underdeveloped and at a power disadvantage. Reventlow even asked Stirling Moss, one of the era's top drivers and an expert at Monaco, to try a Scarab. He shaved four seconds off Daigh's best time. Daigh and Reventlow struggled in qualifying and Daigh managed to approach Moss' lap times, but the Scarabs failed to qualify for the race. At Zandvoort, Daigh made the grid but Reventlow, who failed at first to qualify, was given a starting position by sympathetic race organizers that wanted both Scarabs to race. However, protests from privateers who were moved down the starting grid and were denied starting money as a result, convinced the sportsman in Reventlow to protest, causing the organizers to disqualify the entire Scarab team. Next was the fearsome Spa circuit in Belgium, where the Scarabs made the back of an expanded grid to start their first Grand Prix, one that turned out to be horrible with Stirling Moss and Mike Taylor crashing their Lotuses heavily and suffering serious injuries in practice, while two rising British star drivers were killed during the race. Well off the pace in practice and qualifying, Reventlow retired early with a blown engine and Daigh fought on until an oil leak forced him out. Nonetheless, photos of Daigh drifting at speed thrilled the press and earned their respect for his abilities and those of the Scarabs.
As expected following Spa, the FIA confirmed the new 1.5-liter Grand Prix formula for 1961 and the clock was running out on the Scarabs, which would have to be virtually reinvented for another F1 season. The Scarabs' final European race was at Reims in France, but engine problems sidelined both. The final F1 race of the 1960 season and the 2.5-litre formula, was the United States Grand Prix at Riverside that November. At his home track, Daigh drove masterfully in his outdated Scarab, qualifying 18th, battling fuel-starvation problems the entire race, and battling with Wolfgang von Trips' rear-engine Cooper-Maserati to finish in 10th in the Scarab team's only Grand Prix finish.
The End of the Scarab's F1 Challenge
Not fully believing the 1.5-litre formula would actually come into force, Reventlow commissioned a new, rear-engine Scarab chassis for the team's unique "desmo" engine. While outwardly similar to the new European cars and called "the blue Cooper," the rear-powered Scarab was far better-built but again unsuited to the new regulations, so Reventlow joined the owners of other "obsolete" 2.5-litre cars in the new three-litre Intercontinental Formula racing class, which also enjoyed spectator interest. While the new car was constructed, two of the front-engine Scarabs headed in opposite directions, with Chassis GP-2, the car presented here, sent back across the Atlantic with an updated "desmo" engine for the first few races of the 1961 Intercontinental Formula in England. In the wet at Goodwood, Daigh was third overall for a few laps but finishing 6th. At the next round at Silverstone, he took 7th in the rain but crashed badly at the next Silverstone meeting, destroying GP-2's rear end and being hospitalized.
After Chuck Daigh's crash at Silverstone, the remains of GP-2 were shipped back to RAI in Southern California. All usable pieces except for the badly damaged chassis and rear body section were saved and survived until the mid 1980s when a partnership was formed to acquire them. Most of GP-2's parts that had originally belonged to Reventlow were collected from former RAI/Shelby employees within 75 miles of the old shop in California. Documented among them were the complete front suspension with uprights, A-arms, shocks and springs, as well as the original steering rack and anti-sway bars. For the rear, the right upright and the shocks and springs, as well as two wheels were obtained. Other major parts found included the fuel tanks, radiator, numerous engine components, and all aluminum body panels except for the crashed tail section, including long and short noses, the cowling with racing mirrors, left and right side panels, both front cowling panels, and the hood, which still retained its original blue finish and insignia, hand-painted by none other than Ken "Von Dutch" Howard!
The actual "desmo" engine that powered GP-2 in its first 1960 racing season was acquired from Ron Kellogg, a California enthusiast, plus blueprints and various documents. Now, with acquisition of the engine, the partners concluded that they had now amassed all significant remaining parts of GP-2 that had survived Daigh's 1961 crash at Silverstone crash. A professional restoration commenced in 1988 and given the complex nature of the Scarab's design and construction, the effort consumed the better part of a decade to complete. Dick Troutman, the original chassis fabricator, pulled out the original drawings and specifications and reconstructed the Scarab's framework on the actual RAI chassis table that was still in his shop. Further chassis work, including the suspension and drivetrain components, was guided by Chuck Daigh, who later oversaw the rebuild and dyno-tuning of the original "desmo" engine now in the car. Numerous written records documenting the restoration accompany the sale of GP-2 at Monterey.
Brian Redman, the highly regarded international racing champion, first tested GP-2 with the RAI Formula Libre Chevy engine fitted at Savannah on January 22, 1997. Subsequently, GP-2 won Best Racing Car at Lime Rock, and it was exhibited at Amelia Island, Greenwich, the Louis Vuitton Concours d'Elegance in New York, and Bagatelle in Paris, France. Now powered by its original "desmo" engine, GP-2 was twice invited to England's world-famous Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was driven by Brian Redman, former F1 World Champion Damon Hill, and most fittingly, its original pilot, Chuck Daigh.
Interestingly, during Chuck Daigh's recent and painstaking rebuild and dyno-tuning of the generally unloved "desmo" engine, he noted "They'd put in some clearance to keep the valves from breaking as things heated up and expanded, and trusted to compression to hold them shut." These measures affected the engine's ability to breathe on the intake stroke, reducing its power output. However, with his intimate knowledge, Chuck's newly built and properly-adjusted "desmo" engine reportedly pulled 265 horsepower on the engine dyno. In his own words, "It wasn't enough to make us World Champions, but we sure would've looked a hell of a lot better than we did."
Unlike today's incomprehensibly complex F1 cars, Scarab GP-2 is a wonderful piece of living history, vividly recalling the days when, as automotive writer B.S. Levy eloquently stated, "Its chassis was drawn on a manual drafting board by one man with a 2H pencil as was its body design sketched by another with the chassis welded up on a chassis table from chrome-moly steel tubing by a third. These persons and all the others involved, some totally self-taught, are all known by name and individual reputations and were the very best in the specialties of their choosing. The list reads like a who's who of California car culture; Lance Reventlow, Wayne Olsen, Phil Remington, Ken Miles, Jim Travers and Frank Coons (both of Traco), Leo Goosen, Chuck Pelly, Emil Deidt, Chuck Daigh, and Von Dutch, the famous pinstriper and artist. Even the drivers who sat in GP-2's racing seat during its short career in the period are well known - Stirling Moss, Lance Reventlow, Chuck Daigh, and Ritchie Ginther." As offered, Scarab GP-2 is incredibly important to motorsports history, marking the first all-American Formula 1 racecar and it offers you an unparalleled chance to join that elite roster of racing greats.