Glick’s garage

Where money meets pas­sion you’ll find col­lec­tor, racer and ex­plorer - Jim Glick­en­haus

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - WORDS: ROWAN HORN­CAS­TLE /

James Glick­en­haus, cre­ator of the SCG 003, has the kind of col­lec­tion that makes mere mor­tals weep

Crawl­ing down an unas­sum­ing sub­ur­ban res­i­den­tial street of tim­ber-clad gable-front houses in Sleepy Hol­low, up­state New York, the overly de­mand­ing, shrill voice of the sat­nav pipes up. “You have ar­rived,” the lady in the dash­board barks. Surely not?

The only give­away that Mrs Waze is in fact cor­rect is a small plaque on the side of an old bev­er­age ware­house that’s been white­washed into al­lu­sive­ness. From it, Lady Lib­erty’s torch burns on a mar­ble back­ground with three letters be­low: SCG. A knock on the door sum­mons the ven­er­a­ble leader of Scud­e­ria Cameron Glick­en­haus – Jim Glick­en­haus – who po­litely ges­tures me in. My pupils take time to ad­just to the vast dark­ened room, but when they do, I quickly re­alise I have very much ar­rived.

All avail­able space is draped with iconic mem­o­ra­bilia, tro­phies, thought-to-be-lost chas­sis and some of the rarest and most ex­pen­sive cars on the planet. Dead ahead, a 166 Spy­der Corsa – the third Fer­rari ever made and the old­est con­tin­u­ally ex­ist­ing Fer­rari on the planet. Next to it, a one-off, bright yel­low duck­billed 1967 Fer­rari 206 Dino Com­pe­tizione. To the right, a Le Mans-con­test­ing, ex-Dono­hue/Bruce McLaren 1967 Ford Mark IV, the Queen of Yu­goslavia’s Model J Due­sen­berg, and, be­hind that, a Thir­ties Stutz DV32 from The Great Gatsby.

Then there’s the proper bite-the-back-of-your-hand stuff: Fer­rari’s Six­ties en­durance rac­ers. No­tably, the P3/4 and 412P. One of which be­ing the highly con­tro­ver­sial binned and res­ur­rected chas­sis #0846 – a car that made pranc­ing horse fo­rums have hairy ba­bies. Fi­nally, and where your saliva glands’ af­ter­burn­ers re­ally kick in,

Jim’s lat­est ac­qui­si­tion – Fer­rari’s equally bat­shit and beau­ti­ful Seven­ties wedge, the Mo­dulo.

But aside from be­ing hys­ter­i­cally ex­pen­sive and sig­nif­i­cant gems of the au­to­mo­tive world, there’s one thing that all these in­cred­i­ble cars have in com­mon: ev­ery sin­gle one of them has a regis­tra­tion plate and is driven on the road. And driven hard. Case in point: Jim’s ex-Mark Dono­hue/Roger Penske Can-Am-win­ning Lola T70 that’s out back – stripped down and spatch­cocked – mid-10-year ser­vice, hav­ing done 65,000 miles on NY’s hor­ren­dously bro­ken roads. Even the Mo­dulo has a dull yel­low New York plate, a con­cept car now reg­is­tered on the DMV’s sys­tem as a 1972 one-door sedan.

“Not driv­ing your Fer­rari is like not hav­ing sex with your girl­friend so she’ll be more de­sir­able for her next boyfriend,” Jim quips.

His col­lec­tion is a life­time’s work and the tragic re­al­ity of be­ing bit­ten by the car bug at a young age. The son of one of Wall Street’s hard­est-working war­riors, Seth Glick­en­haus, Jim grew up in a sub­urb of New York City a short bike ride from leg­endary Fer­rari deal­er­ship, Luigi Chinetti Mo­tors.

As a kid, Jim would stand, jaw agape, end­lessly ogling at Maranello’s finest. Un­til one day in 1962, when the heav­ens lit­er­ally and metaphor­i­cally opened. Con­cerned that 12-yearold Jim would get wet, Luigi Chinetti took one of his Fer­rari rac­ing jack­ets off the wall and handed it to him. It’s a jacket that still hangs proudly in Jim’s of­fice to­day.

A re­la­tion­ship was forged. And by the time he was 15, Jim would help Mr Chinetti work on his cars. Cars like the 1965 NART 250LM, the last Fer­rari to win first over­all at Le Mans. Out­side the shop, Jim would mod­ify his own ’54 Stude­baker to run on rocket fuel and de­mol­ish drag strips in or­der to sa­ti­ate his need for speed. Turn­ing 21, Jim went into the film busi­ness as a pro­ducer and di­rec­tor, spe­cial­is­ing in vi­o­lent B-movies and had sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial suc­cess with the gritty vig­i­lante ac­tion film The Ex­ter­mi­na­tor.

Cof­fers lined, he pur­chased his first Fer­rari, a yel­low and pur­ple psychedel­i­cally striped 275. Pur­chase price? $6k. Value to­day? Many, many mil­lions. Yet Jim drove it 65,000 miles back and forth to school in the snow and rain. Some­times re­bel­liously.

Be­ing a boho child of the Swing­ing Six­ties, as an act of civil dis­obe­di­ence and hop­ing to get ar­rested in ex­change for some pub­lic­ity for his films, the day that the US gov­ern­ment dropped the na­tional speed limit to 55 miles an hour, Jim drove from Bos­ton to New York City in the mid­dle of the night at an av­er­age of 107mph.

“Luck­ily the statute of lim­i­ta­tions has passed, so I don’t think I can go to jail for it now,” says Jim, ex­hal­ing with laugh­ter.

Mak­ing money in films, which he then in­vested in Wall Street, Jim started buy­ing notable race­cars like the Lola T70 and Ford MkIV, but con­verted them to drive on the road. He’d add com­forts like air­con and ticket win­dows so he could pay tolls... in cars that com­peted at Le Mans. How­ever, Jim, se­cured wider no­to­ri­ety within the car com­mu­nity in 2003 with the gor­geous Jason Cas­tri­ota-de­signed P4/5, a $3m coach­built Enzo that ini­tially went down at Fer­rari like a gran­ite hang glider.

“Want to drive it?” Jim asks re­mark­ably ca­su­ally. In­stantly my mouth dries like I’ve just had a sil­ica gel Dip Dab. Know­ing that he once turned down an of­fer of $40m from the King of the Saudi Ara­bia for the beau­ti­ful be­spoke ma­chine, I some­what re­luc­tantly agree. YOLO.

As the driver’s door arcs shut, a few re­al­i­ties I never knew ex­isted be­come fright­en­ingly ap­par­ent. Be­ing a re­bod­ied Enzo, the sump­tu­ous bub­bled canopy has a six-inch-tall car­bon-fi­bre strip right across my eye line. Not ideal when the first thing I have to do is pull out of a junc­tion to be­gin a loop of Jim’s favourite road routes. Fear in­stantly builds to the point where vomit feels like it’s leak­ing out of my palms. Gulp.

Built with­out the bless­ing of Fer­rari, but de­signed by Pin­in­fa­rina, the P4/5 put sig­nif­i­cant strain on the two com­pa­nies’ iconic re­la­tion­ship.

“An­drea Pin­in­fa­rina told me he knew Luca [di Mon­teze­molo] was an­gry be­cause he shut the he­li­copter off.”

See, nor­mally, the then-boss of Fer­rari would fly from Maranello to Pin­in­fa­rina’s HQ in Cam­biano but keep the he­li­copter run­ning so he could sprint in, shout a bit, then fly back. But when it came to dis­cussing the P4/5, he switched it off. But, hav­ing seen the car’s in­her­ent beauty in the flesh, the Fer­rari boss chris­tened it an of­fi­cial car.

“Ev­ery­body was sure I lived in ter­ror of Fer­rari, that they were gonna shoot me, they were gonna sue me, they were gonna do… God knows what. But I knew the le­gal facts and they were re­ally sim­ple; you buy a car, you own it. You want to paint it Hello Kitty? You can paint it Hello Kitty.”

Look­ing back now, the P4/5 was ac­tu­ally the har­bin­ger for Fer­rari’s now fi­nan­cially fruit­ful ‘SP’ projects. And, hav­ing ne­go­ti­ated the hor­ren­dously grabby first-gen ce­ramic brakes, slug­gish gear­box (but had the op­por­tu­nity to bathe in the au­ral great­ness of a Maranello 12-cylin­der un­abated by muf­flers), I’m more than happy to safely park the P4/5 back in the hangar, next to its rac­ing sib­ling, the P4/5 Com­pe­tizione.

Jim’s in­ten­tion was to al­ways go rac­ing in his one-off. Specif­i­cally, Le Mans. But the ACO was far from ac­com­mo­dat­ing. So Jim spoke to the or­gan­is­ers of the Nür­bur­gring 24 Hours, who wel­comed him with open arms.

Us­ing a 430 GT2 as a donor car, Jim mated its en­gine and trans­mis­sion to a road-le­gal 430 Scud­e­ria chas­sis so he could reg­is­ter it and drive it on the road. But Fer­rari took is­sue with it. So Jim ripped the Cavalli­nos off, grabbed some Scotch tape, drew the SCG badge on with a felt tip and went rac­ing – later claim­ing an FIA cham­pi­onship win for ex­per­i­men­tal ve­hi­cles when the P4/5C was con­verted to a hy­brid.

But Jim wanted more. He wanted his own clean-sheet race­car. So in 2013, he started the SCG003 project. Us­ing all the de­vel­op­ment knowl­edge from his team’s pre­vi­ous years com­pet­i­tively pound­ing round the Nord­schleife, Jim made his own GT3 car with the ethos of a top-flight LMP1 car. The re­sult was a full-car­bon, preda­tory and pow­er­ful-look­ing, ‘slicks and wings’ spe­cial with styling cues from a Fiat Turbina, which took pole and fin­ished first in class at the N24 in 2015.

It’s a chas­sis Jim is now of­fer­ing as a su­per-exclusive $2.2m pro­duc­tion road car, ei­ther in a more road-bi­ased S spec, or hard­core Honey-I-for­got-to-pick-up-some-milk-be­fore-set­tinga-Nord­schleife-lap-record CS spec. Both cars are ca­pa­ble of 217mph and ’Ring times in the 6:30s, so se­ri­ous bits of kit in any­one’s book.

Strad­dling the wide sill, I slither my legs down un­der the heav­ily but­toned bow-tie-shaped wheel and get com­fort­able in the S. With a hefty thud, grav­ity closes the car­bon but­ter­fly door for me and I go to ad­just the mir­rors. Ah, there isn’t any ad­just­ment. Rather, two cam­eras that dis­play your sur­round­ings ei­ther side of the par­al­lax dig­i­tal dash. Fir­ing the 750bhp, 850lb ft 4.4-litre dry-sumped twin-turbo BMW V8 race en­gine, it idles and be­haves a lot more be­nignly than you’d think. Fit­ted with three-way-ad­justable adap­tive Bil­stein dampers it rides tremen­dously well on NY’s jar­ring park­ways. Once you’re in it, it’s not in­tim­i­dat­ing, ei­ther. Yes, it’s not as easy to ma­noeu­vre as a Re­nault Twingo, but a Re­nault Twingo can’t lap the Nord­schleife in the silly sixes.

Driv­ing around town, the SCG003 gets as much at­ten­tion as you’d ex­pect a $2.2m hy­per­car to get. But there’s a prob­lem: no one knows what it is. “Is that a Saleen?” one kid shouts at a petrol sta­tion.

This is Jim’s next bat­tle: ex­po­sure. But he’s not short of am­bi­tion for SCG. Next year, he’s pro­duc­ing a sec­ond, more af­ford­able road car, SCG004 – a three-seat $600k-ish su­per­car with a su­per­charged LT4 en­gine from a Corvette and the pos­si­bil­ity of a man­ual trans­mis­sion for the purists. Be­ing Jim, rac­ing will be at its heart, with GT3, GT4 and GTE vari­ants sprout­ing out of it too.

If that wasn’t enough, Jim is also get­ting into the SUV game. But not in the same mar­ket­ing-led way Lam­borgh­ini and Rolls-Royce are. See, Jim owns Steve Mc­Queen’s 1967 Baja Boot. When he bought it at auc­tion he also got its tech­ni­cal draw­ings. Be­ing de­signed by the same man who penned cars for the Moon, it’s an in­cred­i­bly ca­pa­ble bit of kit (big wheels, low cen­tre of grav­ity, en­gine for­ward of the rear axle, hy­dra­matic gear­box). Jim is now us­ing these blue­prints to make a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion (SCG005) to com­pete in next year’s Baja 1000, then scale a vol­cano in Chile as a Guin­ness World Record at­tempt. Af­ter, it’ll be sold as a G-Wa­gen al­ter­na­tive for the road. Fi­nally, there’s SCG006, a retro­tas­tic Six­ties-style drop-top with 650bhp which – you guessed it – Jim wants to go rac­ing with, as well as use on the road.

Has he bit­ten off more than he can chew? We’ll have to wait and see. But with SCG be­ing a com­pletely self-funded op­er­a­tion, Jim is lucky enough to play this thing we call life a bit like a game of ten-pin bowl­ing. It’s just with his kind of fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity, it’s like hav­ing the guard rails up. Luck­ily, he doesn’t need them – for the past few years he’s been bowl­ing a strike ev­ery time.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: DW BUR­NETT

A gift from Luigi Chinetti in 1962. Jim has never washed it since

Quite sim­ply the coolest Jim on the planet. No, sec­ond­coolest. Broad­bent’s still our num­ber one

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