The imagination and determination of one of history’s great characters, Lance Reventlow, and the talented team he brought together in Venice, California. Its appearance is electric, a handsome blending of form and function that is as innately pleasing as Lance Reventlow’s many beautiful women companions. Its intricate desmodromic valve dual overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine may be the highest development of an American racing tradition, an ill-fated design which subsequent experience has revealed was innately sound but rushed into competition without sound development.
1960 Scarab F-1 Grand Prix
Scarab Formula 1 built in 1959-1960 with aluminum bodies.
Only three were produced.
Six months later two Scarab sports racers rolled out of Reventlow’s shop.
The Chevy V8 powered Scarab sports-racers which this all-star team built not only dominated the U.S. Road Racing Championship but so completely overwhelmed their competition in style, construction, and presentation that they became a legend in only a single season of competition under the Reventlow banner.
2.5 litre, original dual overhead cam four-cylinder inline alloy block engine with desmodromic valve actuation and Hilborn fuel injection; 267bhp at 6,500rpm, ladder-type four tube steel chassis with triangulated bays, front mounted transmission with quick-change rear differential, four-wheel Girling disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension with triangulated arms and trailing arms and
coil over shock absorbers plus anti-sway bars.
Lance Reventlow could do just about anything he wanted with his mother’s, Barbara Hutton’s, Woolworth family legacy. Lance had been reading up on chassis design and decided after leaving Lister’s that he could assemble a crew to build an even better car. It was the most successful of all schools, taught by talents like Harry Miller,
Clay Smith, Fred Offenhauser, and Leo Goosen, and it turned out fabricators, designers, welders, machinists, and assemblers who could build the highest quality, fastest, most reliable racing machinery in the world.
The Scarab Formula One cars were ambitious undertakings employing untested technologies but rooted in a conventional front-engine rear-drive layout. Reventlow insisted upon the proven – both in Grand Prix and in American oval racing – four-cylinder layout, designed from inception to lay over on its side as currently fashionable in Indy Roadsters. If the design had stopped there it might have been implemented successfully but Reventlow chose desmodromic valve operation. Desmodromic valve gear had been a dream of engine designers for years. In concept it positively mechanically controlled valve opening and closing through two cams.
The Scarab F1 missed the 1960 season opening race in Argentina, first appearing to immense interest and fascination at Monaco. Reventlow offered Stirling Moss (driving a mid-engined Lotus 18 in the race) a chance to drive the Scarab. If anything Moss’s talents behind the wheel masked the front-engine Scarab’s numerous shortcomings but even freshly completed and barely shaken down both Reventlow and Daigh would have been competitive with 1959 qualifying times, the season for which the Scarab F1 was designed.
This Scarab, GP-2, is the only one to race at both the United States Grand Prix and the Gran Prix of Monaco. Scarabs have become more sought after than ever as the remaining important cars are locked away in serious racing collections and not likely to escape! The front-engined Scarab GP will never lack for invitations to prestigious racing events, Concours, and shows where its thunderous exhaust and unique appearance will be the centerpiece of any paddock display and will draw spectators from far and wide to its on-track performance.
Formally displayed at The Riverside International Automotive Museum
One of the greatest stories in the history of American sports car racing.
What a couple of 18 yrs old kids by the name of Lance Reventlow and Bruce Kessler were able to accomplish in American and International Racing Circles is nothing short of amazing!
Scarab F1 had captured the imaginations of racing fans across America and around the world. The success of the Scarab sports-racers and the romance of a small team of Americans from southern California taking on the best of European constructors with an immaculately constructed – and the construction and finishing standards of the Scarabs were an order of magnitude beyond those seen on European GP cars.
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