Monday, June 14, 2010

Scarab Roadster Authentically Reborn


Aluminum-crafted sports car replicates Chevy-powered racer that dominated late-'50s competition.

Scarab, one of the true holy grails of sports-car racing history, has been brought back to life as a handcrafted performance beauty for street or track.

With an all-aluminum body, chrome-moly tube frame and a mountain of racing heritage, the classic roadster is being reproduced by Scarab Motorsports as an authentic continuation of the all-American sports racer that conquered Ferrari and the rest of the competition establishment in the late 1950s.

The new Scarab is gorgeously rendered, updated where necessary for safety but still a near-exact replica of the legendary race car that absolutely dominated during its brief career. When equipped with period brakes and engine, the Scarab recreation has been approved by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association for its track events.

Kansas-based Scarab Motorsports has produced 10 of the roadsters so far, with several more in the works. Three rabid racing fans are responsible for creating the new Scarabs: Richard Kitzmiller, the president and founder who originally set out to recreate the race cars that he long admired; Don Devine, who raced Scarabs back in their day; and Pete Hinkel, an Arizona vintage racer.

The first Scarab built by the company, painted in the striking blue-and-white livery originally designed by the famed Von Dutch, looked like a rare jewel parked in the back shop of Brighton Motorsports, a Scottsdale, Az., collector-car dealer and restoration business. Scarab Motorsports recently enlisted Brighton as the main outlet for marketing the Scarab.

“We’ve acquired the worldwide distribution rights,” said Vince Bodiford, marketing, PR and sales manager at Brighton. “As motorsports enthusiasts, we know all about its history.”

The original Scarab was the culmination of an obsessive racing dream by a young amateur driver who had the financial wherewithal to make it come true. Lance Reventlow, heir to the Woolworth fortune, was inspired to build his own race car after visiting the Lister-Jaguar factory in England, where he decided that he could create something better.

Reventlow set up Scarab Automobiles in Venice, Calif., in 1957 with a cadre of racers and racing designers, which resulted in a low and sleekly contoured sports car built with the latest ideas in performance motoring and powered by a fuel-injected Corvette V8. A year later in Santa Barbara, Reventlow drove the new Scarab to a dominating victory and a lap record. At the following Pomona Speed Weekend, Reventlow set lap records on both days, winning both events.

At the 1958 U.S. Grand Prix in Riverside, racer Chuck Daigh drove a Scarab to a resounding victory against some of the world’s fastest cars and best drivers. Famed driver Augie Pabst won numerous victories in a privately owned Scarab beginning in 1959, when influential Road & Track magazine featured a Scarab on its cover and called it, “America’s Finest Sports Car.”

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