Talking Shop: Our Interview With SCG’s James Glickenhaus
With the hype surrounding the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show still fresh on everyone’s minds, manufacturers and designers alike are surely back at the drawing board this week to weigh the most significant opinions, insights, and out-of-the-box ideas from last week’s exorbitant car-filled cavalcade. There was a lot to see, with much to be discussed, as new models made their debuts and old models showcased their redesigned profiles for media and enthusiasts alike.
Few vehicles garnered more attention at this year’s show than the multi-million dollar Glickenhaus SCG-003S. With a claim that the car produces more than 650 horsepower from its turbocharged, Honda-sourced engine, the SCG-003S is slated to turn heads and snap necks everywhere it goes. So in order to better understand the brains behind the build, we reached out for an exclusive interview with the car’s owner and company mastermind, James Glickenhaus, to talk with him about his life, his personal garage, the auto industry, Geneva, and what he has in store for us next.
For those who are unfamiliar with James Glickenhaus, it is important to first know that he is a man who has easily experienced more in his life than most people can see in 10 lifetimes. The Chuck Taylor-wearing, classic car-collecting 64-year-old has restored the likes of Andy Warhol’s Lola T70 Sl 71-32 and Steve McQueen’s old Dune Buggy, and has a garage that stables these and many others in a collection that is worth over $20 million dollars.
James has done everything from racing classic cars, to leading a successful career as a Wall Street mogul, to directing hit films like the 1980 classic The Exterminator, starring Robert Ginty and Christopher George. He has complemented and infuriated Ferrari on multiple occasions, told the media that he will not apologize for improving on someone else’s design, and has lapped the Nürburgring more times than we care to count. But what really sets Glickenhaus apart from the rest of the pack is his unabashed attitude toward the development of forward-thinking design, and his undeniable dedication to the development of motor-sports as a whole.
James is quick to admit that his insatiable obsession with race cars started way back in the 1960s, where as a teenager he became enthralled by the Le Mans series where Ford and Ferrari went toe to toe in a skirmish of epic proportions. Flash forward nearly 50 years, and one can now find the cars that raced in that epic battle in Jim’s personal collection at his garage in upstate New York. Within the span of those 50 years, James has also developed his own brand of hypercar under his family name, befriended the famed auto adviser and consultant Paolo Garella, and has seen such things like Jim Hall arriving in his “massive-winged, high-horsepower, Can-Am wonder.”
So what does a guy who spends his time engineering race cars and re-tooling Ferraris drive regularly? I asked James what his daily-driving preferences are when it is time to head out of the house to run some errands. “My daily is an 8C Alfa. When I need more room I drive an old V12 Jag XJ. When [my wife] Meg and I go out we take her daily which is a Bentley CGT.”
James’s current stable houses quite a few historic cars, like the Ferrari P3/4 0846, the Ferrari 412P 0854, a Fiat Dino 2400 Spider, and the extremely esteemed Duesenberg J446, to name just a few. When asked if one of these classic cars had more significance than the others, Jim calmly responded, “I love them all. They are time machines that bring me back to the glorious days when they raced and wowed.”
To keep his fleet of classic cars, and many of his newer vehicles in tip-top shape, James has enlisted the services of long-time friend and master mechanic, Sal Barone. When I asked about Sal, James was quick to elaborate on their elongated history together. “I met Sal in 1971 and he’s been working on, and restoring my cars ever since. He’s an old school mechanic, and can work on anything from my 1947 159s Ferrari, to a Nuclear Submarine, which is what he did for the Italian Navy,” he told us via email. “We’ve had many amazing adventures together, and he’s a very dear friend of mine and my whole family.”
In terms of the actual design and creation of those vehicles, enter the aforementioned automotive mastermind Paolo Garella, who has been Glickenhaus’s go-to guy ever since they worked on the Ferrari P4/5 together back in 2005. He has helped Jim restore several classic cars, along with designing and testing the various embodiments of the new SCG-003C and 003S. “Paolo has a HUGE knowledge of engineering and designing one-off cars and racing cars. He’s also become a great friend,” he said (emphasis his).
The 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and the future of fast
“[Geneva] was amazing. I really enjoyed meeting the other manufactures, designers, and press; and was very happy with the number of potential customers who came from all over the world to see our car. Designing, engineering, and building an entire car from a clean sheet of paper, from the ground up, is a huge undertaking. I’m delighted with how the SCG-003 turned out and [want to] thank our entire team and partners for their passion and dedication,” James said of his experience showcasing the SCG-003S.
So what’s on James’s radar now that the SCG-003’s Geneva showcasing is successfully in his carbon fiber rear-view mirror? It would seem only natural to discover that the answer is both a simple and yet highly appropriate one: racing. James tells me that if his company can sell enough SCG-003Ses, he will use the money to get his team to Le Mans with a LMP1 car in tow, which he plans on designing, engineering, and building from the ground up.
He plans to drive the car in it’s street spec-kit to the Le Mans race in France, swap out its road-going V12 for the race-prepped twin-turbo V6, race the SCG-003C around Le Mans, reverse the swap, then drive it to Paris. If all goes well, James and his crew will have made a historic step in moving forward the boundaries of endurance race-ready vehicles. If he succeeds, pointers taken from the SCG-003 could be taken by automakers the world over in making their performance cars easier to work on, and usher in a new model for both professional and hobby racing.
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