- America’s first Formula 1 car
- One of three Scarab Formula 1 cars produced for the 1960 season
- Driven around the streets of Monaco by Lance Reventlow and Stirling Moss
- Later driven by Chuck Daigh and Richie Ginther
- Part of a story that led to the formation of Shelby American and Chaparral
- Fully restored over a decade by original Scarab engineers, Dick Troutman and Chuck Daigh
Motorsport has always been populated by heirs of great fortunes, willing to turn them into smaller ones in return for recognition at the race circuit. As the son of Barbara Hutton, the heir to the Woolworths fortune, Lance Reventlow had the means to pursue any of his ambitions. Reventlow began to follow the California sports car scene in his mid-teens, befriending James Dean and competing in California and Europe, before starting the Scarab marque through Reventlow Automobiles Inc. (RAI) in September 1957.
Despite their hot-rodding roots, RAI was no ragtag bunch of amateurs but some of the finest engineers in Southern California, including Troutman-Barnes, TRACO, Phil Remington and the artistic genius of pinstripe designs by Von Dutch.
The Scarab Mk I and Mk II were the fastest sports cars in America and had beaten everything up to Works Ferraris on the way to winning the 1958 SCCA Championship with Chuck Daigh, but Reventlow wanted more. Aiming to compete in the 1959 Formula 1 World Championship, RAI set about applying the same build quality and engineering nous to a front-engined spaceframe Grand Prix car. Leo Goosen from Offenhauser was employed to develop a 2.5-litre engine, which he laid on its side to reduce the centre of gravity, while employing Hilborn fuel injection through a twin-cam cylinder head with desmodromic valves. The only non-American components of this valiant effort were the Girling disc brakes.
RAI’s strive for perfection was to prove its worst enemy; in producing such a beautifully engineered car, its development timescales stretched beyond the 1959 season into 1960, with the Scarab Formula 1 car making its first appearance at the Monaco GP. This car, GP-2, was to be Reventlow’s car for Monaco, with GP-1 being Daigh’s; a third spare car was built but was believed to not be raced in period. Reventlow struggled to improve on a time of 1:48.5 which saw him not qualify; to help understand their problems, Stirling Moss tried GP-2 and recorded a time two seconds faster than Daigh’s 1:47.
The ruthless pace of development was plain to see for everyone; during 1960 Aston Martin, BRM, Scarab, Vanwall, and eventually Ferrari all had their front-engined titans fall slowly down the grid as the mid-engine Coopers and Lotus disappeared into the distance. At Zandvoort for the Dutch GP, Reventlow qualified GP-2 but a bust-up over start money led to Reventlow withdrawing his cars. The Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps ended in engine problems for Reventlow, and the French GP at Reims concluded in the same fashion when Richie Ginther was at the wheel.
The United States Grand Prix on 20 November 1960 finally saw a Scarab perform as promised with Daigh finishing 10th in chassis GP-2, ahead of several mid-engined competitors. Due to Formula 1 regulations reducing engine size to 1.5-litre capacity for 1961, GP-2 returned to Europe to compete in the Intercontinental Formula series, where Daigh finished 8th at Goodwood before finishing 7th in the following round at Silverstone. A further Silverstone round in July resulted in Daigh having a rear-end crash on the first lap. The wreck was shipped back to RAI and stripped for parts before the chassis was scrapped. Reventlow eventually wound-up RAI, renting out the Venice Beach headquarters to Carroll Shelby to launch Shelby American.
Over two decades later, the stripped parts came into the possession of Ali Lugo who commissioned the original chassis fabricator, Dick Troutman, to rebuild GP-2 using the parts assembled including engine 2E, the only remaining running desmodromic Scarab engine. Included in the rebuild was much of the original bodywork, excluding the damaged rear, and most of the suspension. Troutman passed away in 1992, but the rebuild continued with the help of Daigh. The completed GP-2 was finally tested in 1997 by Brian Redman and has since made appearances at motorsport events such as the 2001 Goodwood Festival of Speed with Redman, and concours d'elegance events, including Amelia Island.
More recently, GP-2 has formed part of the Riverside International Automotive Museum before joining the collection of the current owner. In historic racing, Scarabs have finally proven their potential by being consistent frontrunners in HGPCA races, victorious at the Goodwood Revival and highly competitive around the streets of Monte Carlo. GP-2 last raced in the principality 62 years ago and it will be the next owner’s opportunity to complete Lance Reventlow’s unfinished business at a future Monaco Historique.
|1960 Scarab F1 GP-2 Results|
|Monte Carlo - Monaco Grand Prix||29-May-60||L. Reventlow/S. Moss||23rd||DNQ|
|Zandvoort - Dutch Grand Prix||6-Jun-60||L. Reventlow||16th||W/D|
|Spa-Francorchamps - Belgian Grand Prix||19-Jun-60||L. Reventlow||16th||DNF|
|Reims - French Grand Prix||3-Jul-60||R. Ginther||20th||DNS|
|Riverside - United States Grand Prix||20-Nov-60||C. Daigh||18th||10th|
|Goodwood - XIII Lavant Cup||3-Apr-61||C. Daigh||8th||8th|
|Silverstone - XIII BRDC International Trophy||6-May-61||C. Daigh||15th||7th|
|Silverstone - XIII British Empire Trophy||8-Jul-61||C. Daigh||19th||DNF|