Last year, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus wowed us all when its reborn Boot dominated the Baja 1000. That car, a mid-engined GM LT4-powered supercar for the dunes, is well on its way to production in both two and four-door guise. But SCG has another prerunner coming, one that you’ll build yourself.
That car will be called the 008 and unlike SCG’s other cars, it’ll be a kit. That’s right, just like the legendary Meyers Manx and the Caterham Seven, the 008 will come to life in owners’ garages, not in the company’s Danbury, Connecticut plant.
I spent some time talking to SCG boss Jim Glickenhaus and his son Jesse this week about the project. Both of them explained to me their vision for a car that would be as much an engineering educational program as it will be a competitor at the highest levels of off-road racing.
SCG 008 is a go. Baja 1000/ Paris to Dakar eligible. Sold as a kit. Will include all road legal "Kit Car/Homebuilt/Custom" required equipment. Price of Kit about 130K. Jesse his daughters and my Grandson will assemble one. Onward! pic.twitter.com/jrrfSAbtN6
— Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (@Glickenhaus) July 17, 2020
Talking about the inspiration for this project, Jim mentioned the early days of drag and sportscar racing, when you didn’t need a fortune to build a competitive car. “If you had a little money, you could pick up an Austin Healy. If you had a little more, you might be able to get a Corvette and you were a real contender,” he said.
These days that’s not exactly possible. Indeed, SCG is fielding its 004S and its forthcoming WEC hypercar entry against the biggest names in the motorsport world, but Jim does acknowledge that his cars are certainly more the exception than the rule.
He’s not content with that reality, though. Jim’s been looking for ways to open racing up to more competitors, and the 008 kit is SCG’s first serious attempt to bring that spirit to the off-road races he loves so much.
It’s with that spirit in mind that the 008 is being designed to simultaneously meet the requirements of Class 10 at Baja and the Dakar Buggy Class. A little longer than the 004 that it resembles, the 008 will feature a wheelbase of 121 inches and a track width of 86 inches. That means that the car should be able to compete in both races without modification. Those stats will be joined with space for 35-inch tires as standard with space for buyers to step up to 37-inchers if they want.
Jim and Jesse are honest about the fact that homologating a design to two sets of regulations isn’t likely to produce a car that can compete with the best in each race. But that’s not the point in their mind. This car is about making racing more accessible and more fun. If you really want to win, Jim would be more than happy to sell you a Boot instead.
It’s not enough for Jim that the car is race-able on two continents in two separate classes. If it’s an SCG product, it’s going to have to make it on the street too. That’s why they’ve decided to make it a kit. Fully federalizing a car that meets specs for both of these races would bring the price point far beyond what Jim had in mind, but the kit-car requirements aren’t quite as stringent.
That doesn’t mean this car will be thrown together out of any old parts, or built on an OEM chassis. The 008 will share more than its looks with the 004 that SCG is building for sportscar series. The windscreen will be the same federalized unit from that car, and the headlights and taillights will likely be sourced from that model as well. Additionally, the 008 will have a catalytic converter and muffler too.
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What won’t the car have? An engine. In order to conform with the kit car requirements, the 008 will ship motorless, but SCG predicts that builders will be more than capable of picking up the LS3 the car has been designed to accept. If you’re curious about what else might fit inside, Jim told me that he’d be happy to see what buyers cook up as well.
When it comes to actually putting the car together and mating the motor to the rest of the machine, Jim’s son Jesse told me that he has big ideas about making the build process not only possible for normal people but enjoyable too.
Jesse’s plan is to assemble and then disassemble and then reassemble the first prototype with help from his kids to develop a manual that will be accessible to people with all levels of technical experience. With a modular design that should require no welding, Jesse is benchmarking “very technical Lego sets” when it comes to ease (or difficulty) of construction.
When it comes to instruction materials, Jesse is looking at developing multiple options to fit the needs of different kinds of learners. A traditional paper instruction manual will be standard, but Jesse is planning video and CAD-based virtual assembly tutorials as well. Jesse hopes that these learning tools will allow the 008 to be an ideal project for shop classes and other educational contexts as well as a legitimate racing contender.
But with all that in mind, there still is the question of costs. According to Jim, the targeted price point for the 008 is $US130,000 ($185,848) (engine not included). Jim estimates that the labour to build the car from scratch would run around. $US30,000 ($42,888) if someone didn’t want to put in the work themselves. That’s a lot of money for a supposedly affordable entry point into racing, but Jim and Jesse are confident that many buyers will take on the project bit by bit, spending money on the next set of parts as they complete the car in stages.
That’s a daunting proposition to my mind, but the thrill of driving such a wild design on public roads and having the chance to compete against the big dogs at Baja and Dakar should be enough of an allure to move plenty of 008 kits to professionals and amateurs alike. The Glickenhauses expect the car to be ready for the summer of 2021 with a racing debut at Baja in November of that year. Dakar would hopefully follow in January ‘22. I know I’ll be on the lookout for it when it comes.