It would be easy not to take Jim Glickenhaus very seriously. He’s a multi-millionaire former director of Hollywood schlock horror movies.
I’ve been to one of his movies before – a vigilante gore-fest called The Exterminator which I saw as a kid to win a bet I ended up really rather wishing I’d lost.
Glickenhaus is describing to me the ways his multi-million-euro hypercar is somehow better than those made by McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche. Meanwhile, I’m wondering how I’ll squeeze a credible news story from this, let alone the feature you’re now reading.
The only reason I’m here at all is that his previous creation, the Pininfarina-designed, Ferrari Enzo-based P4/5, was good enough to come 12th in the 2012 Nürburgring 24 Hours in the hands of Nicola Larini, a former works Ferrari F1 driver. So at least the man has some form.
But then a couple of things happen. The first is I listen to what he’s saying and it’s clear he’s rather more than a rich financier wishing to lord his wealth in the automotive arena. He knows what he is talking about and his collection of cars, including a fabulous Ferrari 412P and an original 7.0-litre Ford MkIV that came fourth at Le Mans in 1967, is impeccable.
Then Gordon Murray comes in for a quick chat. As he leaves, I ask what he thinks of the all-carbonfibre car. “I love it,” he says. “It’s really interesting, a car based on prototype architecture and aero that you can drive to the track. It’s a completely contemporary take on how racing cars and racing used to be.” And when the notoriously hard-to-please designer of the McLaren F1 takes something seriously, you should too.
The car, the SCG 003 (the third project of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus), is a road and race car that conforms to GT3 rules, even though the need to produce 1000 road examples means homologation for this class of sports car racing is not on the cards.
Glickenhaus will be delighted if he can sell a dozen and, at £1.5 million for the racer (the road car is £1.65m before tax), you can see why. A fully homologated GT3 car from a mainstream manufacturer that can race almost anywhere in the world costs about one-fifth as much.
But Glickenhaus says the car is different from those in two distinct ways. The first is obvious: its shape is more that of a Le Mans prototype than a GT3 car derived from a showroom road machine.
“Because we don’t have to make thousands, we can do things normal manufacturers cannot,” he says. “We do not, for example, need a cockpit that’ll carry two large men, which is why they have a full-width cockpit and we do not. Within the GT3 rules, you can reduce frontal area to exactly the size we have here.” Freed from such constraints, Glickenhaus has been able to design a car he claims has “conservatively double the downforce of a McLaren P1”.
It’s also a clever car. The rules mandate a minimum height for the front wings, so the SCG003 has low fenders bearing little ridges to reach that height, nominally at least. But the cleverest touches are the wing mirrors.
The rules stipulate that mirrors must be fitted, but not that they should be visible by the driver. So Glickenhaus’s mirrors are fully functioning aero devices, containing tiny cameras displaying the area behind the car on a cockpit screen.
Conceptually, it’s entirely different from other GT3 race cars, and while it may look the least suited to the public road, Glickenhaus contends that it’s actually the most.
“Change the rear wing, the diffuser and the splitter and the road car becomes a race car. Those are the only differences,” he says. To prove his point, he intends to drive an SCG 003 to the Nürburgring for the 24-hour race next month and convert it into a racer in the paddock using hand tools. Then if it survives, he’ll convert it back and drive away.