What do you give to someone who could supposedly buy anything? How about sentimental value in the form of memories? And so the driving appointment begins with the automotive dreams of U.S. billionaire James “Jim” Glickenhaus, who is currently making his rounds on the Italian racetrack of Vallelunga, in a sober electronics store near the Swiss border.
In pandemic times, it’s better not to fly, but to drive. It’s 1,051 kilometers from the sport auto editorial office in the heart of Stuttgart to the Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi, around 30 kilometers outside the gates of the Italian capital Rome. Plenty of time for photographer and editor to reminisce. Seufert to Gebhardt: “I already photographed Glickenhaus in 2006 with his Ferrari P4/5.” Gebhardt to Seufert: “Why didn’t you have a poster made of that for Jim that we can bring him tomorrow?”
Three-seater super sports car
A spontaneous pit stop interrupts the journey to Italy. This is where the electronics store mentioned at the beginning comes into play, or more precisely its quick photo service. Fifteen minutes later, two photo prints are found in a 20 x 30 cm picture frame – memories for 4.98 euros of the three-million-dollar P4/5 one-off by Pininfarina based on a Ferrari Enzo. Just one example from the legendary vehicle collection that Jim has assembled in Sleepy Hollow (New York State), a village of 10,000 people.
The next morning, 7:55 a.m., Vallelunga paddock. Time for memories again. Our photographer hands Jim the picture frame. “Awesome,” “Wow,” and “Great” – an enthusiastic mix of words bubbles out from under the black mouth-to-nose covering with the characteristic torch logo of his racing team, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus. It’s these moments that make us such big Glickenhaus fans at sport auto. Jim is not only an automotive visionary, but a delightfully down-to-earth automotive visionary.
“The 003C went more in the direction of LMP2 in terms of the basic concept, the shape and, of course, the lower seating position. The car was also stiffer again than the 004C is now”
“We spend hours answering questions – whether from a customer, a journalist or a wide-eyed 12-year-old,” writes Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus on its homepage. Anyone who has experienced the likeable New Yorker in the cowboy hat at the Nordschleife knows that these are not empty words. As a sports car fan, you’re immediately on the same wavelength as Glickenhaus.
The Glickenhaus story is well known by now – the car collector became the race car designer and small series manufacturer. After the birth of the P4/5 road model, the motorsport idea took off. From 2011 to 2012, Glickenhaus competed in the 24h race at the Nürburgring with the P4/5 Competizione, before the SCG 003C delighted Ring fans from 2015 to 2019. The SCG 004C race car then followed in its footsteps last year.
“Our goal is to win the 24h race at the Nürburgring,” Jim quickly gets to the point as he opens a carbon door on the 004C. Based on his ideas, Italian automotive and motorsports design firm Podium Advanced Technologies developed the 004C and, as with the 003C, is handling the racing operations. “When Jim asked for a new car, it was clear that he wanted a car that would be easier to race than the 003C,” explains Podium development chief Luca Ciancetti, who is also chief engineer on the 004 project.
Shimmying past the roll cage, first seat test in the Sabelt racing bucket seat. “The 003C went more in the direction of LMP2 in terms of the basic concept, the shape and, of course, the lower seating position. The car was also even stiffer than the 004C, but what really stands out here is the middle seating position with its sensational overview,” says long-time Glickenhaus driver Thomas Mutsch as he puts the steering wheel on the steering column. That’s right, no other GT3 vehicle offers such a generous feeling of space as in the cockpit of the 004C.
While the abbreviation “C” stands for “Competizione”, the “S” is the placeholder for “Stradale” (Italian for “road”). Accordingly, 004S is the road version of the 004C race car.
The goal for 004C is GT3 homologation. “We are in the homologation process. We’ve already sold 60 road cars and will be at 200 very quickly,” Jim tells me. Before the guest driver takes to the track today, two of the Glickenhaus drivers, Felipe Fernández Laser and Thomas Mutsch, put the spurs to the 004C. Test program: testing different springs with different spring rates.
Out of pit number 5, where the SCG crew is routinely preparing the 004C, into pit number 3, where the 004S is standing all alone. No problem, we at sport auto are happy to keep the car company. While the abbreviation “C” stands for “Competizione,” the “S” is the placeholder for “Stradale” (Italian for “road”). Accordingly, 004S is the street version of the 004C race car. Based on Jim’s ideas and drawings, the car is also being developed in Italy by Podium Advanced Technologies.
Carbon racer for the road
As in the racing version, the driver sits in the middle in the road model, while next to the driver’s seat are two (!) passenger seats placed slightly back. Just as cool as the three-seat concept, which is reminiscent of sports car legends à la Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale or McLaren F1, is the reason why the car still gets U.S. road certification without airbags these days.
“In the United States, there are huge pickup trucks that are allowed to have three seats in the front. GM and Ford didn’t want to have an airbag for the center seat because they wanted to put infotainment and navigation systems there. The law in the U.S. does not require an airbag for the center driver. This applies to all vehicles, so the 004S gets road approval even without an airbag. The law also says if the side seats were front seats, you would need airbags for the side seats. But because they’re rear seats, you don’t need airbags for the two side seats either,” Jim explains and then mentions that the car is also legal for registration in Europe and also Germany.
As James “Jim” Glickenhaus impressively demonstrates, the interior offers enough space even for tall people wearing hats.
“Please remember in your impressions that this is still a prototype. We’re the only company in the world that lets you drive at such an early stage of development,” Jim says afterwards. That’s right, other manufacturers would be gasping right now. Thanks for your confidence, Jim!
Relaxed getting in through the generous opening butterfly door. “Try the back seat first. Not bad, is it? And that’s not even the real seat, just a test seat,” Jim says. Later, two bucket seats will make up the 004S’s second row.
Even tall people will find comfortable space in the passenger seats. To make it easier for the driver to get in, later production versions will have the passenger footrests automatically move forward and the center driver’s seat automatically recline. Transferring from the front passenger seat to the driver’s seat. “Look how much headroom you have. Even though I’m tall, I can even fit my hat in,” Jim says enthusiastically.
Then my hand moves to the right to the start button on the component that will later be called the dashboard. The analog round instruments are still missing. The needles of the speedometer and tachometer will later rotate in opposite directions, as they once did at Aston Martin. Just as naked as parts of the wiring harness in the footwell is the mechanics of the manual gearshift. With the gearshift gate open, Italian sports car flair will be wafting here later. It’s already clear that this will be a dream sports car.
In the 004S, the small-block powerplant of the Corvette C7 Z06 blossoms again in an even more emotional way with a newly designed intake tract and new exhaust system.
At the push of a button, a not unfamiliar U.S. symphony resounds – deep-bassed, the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine bubbles away with a slightly out-of-round idle. That’s right, we know this wonderfully authentic race boat voice imitator. “Corvette LT4,” reveals the inscription on the valve covers. In the 004S, the C7 Z06’s small-block powerplant blossoms again in an even more emotional way with a redesigned intake tract and new exhaust system.
“Please drive easy going. You can’t push yet,” Jim had asked. Stroking instead of sprinting – nevertheless, the 004S fascinates in its raw state of development. Excerpts from the four-page “Test Report” for “subjective vehicle evaluation” that engineer Francesca asks me to fill out after the ride. Seating position and overview? Grandiose overview, airy feeling of space, ideally perceptible vehicle feedback in the center. Even after the first few meters in the 004S, one wonders why not all sports cars are born with a central seating position. The feeling of space is further enhanced by the glass roof section of the cockpit-like cockpit. “I made a panoramic roof out of the race car’s escape hatch,” Jim later recounts.
Chassis and steering? Point 1: not too hard, but not too soft, either. Point 2: precise feedback around the center position. “Our idea when it came to damper development was that the car should be comfortable on the road, but not too soft either, so it would work on the racetrack. There is also to be an optional adaptive suspension that can be adjusted from the cockpit in three stages: Soft – Neutral – Track,” Jim is revealed about the suspension options after my drive.
Children of the Nordschleife: Bilstein suspension and Mov’it brake system in the road version, KW and AP in the GT3 race car.
Today, the 004S designed with pushrod wheel suspensions wears the “normal” suspension including Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers, which, however, can also be adjusted in rebound and compression via dials on the dampers.
Other topics in the “Test Report”? Throttle response, gear changes, driving feel. On the long straight-ahead passage between the “Cimini 2” and “Campagnano” curves, stroking briefly turns into sprinting. Revving up to a maximum of 6,600 rpm, third, fourth gear. 659 hp meet a maximum weight of 1,510 kilograms (with a full 80-liter tank). Chassis and body components made of carbon ensure a trained dry weight of 1,430 kilos (without operating fluids).
Oldschool and high-tech
Driving pleasure like in the good old days is provided by the manual six-speed transmission from Cima. Upshifting with the long aluminum gear stick and golf ball-sized shift knob is already refreshingly crisp. Downshifting currently still requires an experienced intermediate throttle blast – otherwise gears and locking rear wheels whine in duet.
The 004S currently dispenses completely with driving aids, but will later enter series production with ESP, ABS and traction control. “I’ve tried as hard as I can to make the 004S an analog sports car. My idea is that we build a car that a good driver can drive without traction control,” Jim says, adding, “I wanted to bring a lot of character to the car, and something oldschool. The 004S is a great driver’s car. If we have great success, we’ll sell 150 cars a year.”
Classic GT3 – the steering wheel is peppered with dials and buttons for setting engine mapping, racing ABS, traction control and other vehicle functions.
Wow, the trip to Italy would have been worth it for the 004S alone. Now: Pit stop, vehicle change – from Stradale to Competizione. The grandiose overview from the central seating position unites the road version and the GT3 racer, but otherwise the 004S and 004C are worlds apart in terms of concept. Oldschool becomes high-tech. Manual with intermediate throttle becomes sequential via rocker cable. Tentative braking becomes late braking into the corner.
Classic GT3 – the steering wheel is peppered with dials and buttons for setting engine mapping, racing ABS, traction control and other vehicle functions (start button, windshield wipers, turn signals, pit limiter, radio, drinking system). At least from the first impression after eight laps in Vallelunga, the SCG 004C is one of the GT3 cars that even ambitious amateurs can control in a relatively relaxed manner.
The braking points quickly shift more and more towards the entrance to the bends. In the fifth-gear right-hander called “Curva grande,” you notice how the aero works and the 004C plays up its downforce.
This is precisely where the SCG squad has made significant changes compared to the inaugural 2020 season. For 2021, 004C got a new aero package. “Last year we produced so much downforce on the rear axle that we had to contend with understeer on the front axle,” explains Jim, while regular driver Thomas adds, “On the one hand, we have now positioned the engine as well as the transmission lower as well as further forward, which of course shifts the weight balance forward. And then also on the aero side, it allows us to shift the aero balance evenly further forward as well.”
V8 naturally aspirated instead of V6 biturbo
Unlike the road-going version with V8 supercharger, the 004C uses a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8. Rev limiter? At 7,200 rpm. For BOP reasons, however, the gears have to be changed between 6,700 and 6,800 rpm.
In detail: The engine and transmission have been moved forward by about 5 cm and down by about 2.5 cm. Unlike the road-going version with a V8 supercharger, the 004C is equipped with a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine whose greedy throttle response and frenetic revving make the tears of joy compete with the drops of sweat under the racing helmet. Rev limiter? At 7,200 rpm. However, due to BOP, gear changes have to be made between 6,700 and 6,800 rpm.
“We developed the engine together with Autotecnica Motori. The basis is the LT4. We only bought the very first engine directly from GM. In the meantime, we only purchase the spare parts from GM. We developed the dry sump lubrication and all the engine internals such as pistons and connecting rods ourselves,” explains SCG chief engineer Luca. The special production is not cheap, and in terms of price, the V8 is said to be not far removed from the 3.5-liter V6 biturbo of the 003C predecessor, which costs around 70,000 euros. “In return, revision costs are low, and the engine is very reliable,” Luca says. According to current BOP, the V8 produces 526 hp (restrictor size: 2 x 30.7 mm). Up to 600 hp would be possible without BOP.
With its simpler drivability, the 004C immediately conveys more confidence to today’s guest driver than the 003C vehicle concept, which was radical in all respects, in the track test in sport auto 1/2016. The new engine concept also plays a part in this.
Compared with the two-million-dollar 003C, the 004S ($460,000) and 004C (650,000 euros) are almost bargains.
“With the 003C, the usable rev band was smaller. There was also turbo lag, of course. With such a large-volume naturally aspirated engine, you step on the gas and then the power is digitally right there. Of course, this also has advantages in terms of driving style and set-up, and ultimately also in terms of lap time,” says SCG driver Mutsch.
What also speaks in favor of the 004C? “The 003C reacted very sensitively to all settings – you couldn’t just give it to a customer. Compared to the 003C, this is a customer-friendly GT3 car that any race team can easily use,” explains SCG race engineer Dario Pergolini.
So, have you tasted blood? Compared to the two-million-dollar 003C, the 004S (460,000 U.S. dollars) and 004C (650,000 euros) are almost bargains. However, all Glickenhaus racers have one thing in common: they are automotive works of art.