1960 Scarab F1


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The Ex-Lance Reventlow/Chuck Daigh
1960 Scarab-Offenhauser Formula 1/Intercontinental Formula Racing Single-Seater
Chassis no. 001

In recent years front-engined Formula 1 car competition at Historic and Vintage level has seen the full flowering of a fabulous and brave American motor racing project that has been recalled with great pride and nostalgic pleasure by generations of road-racing enthusiasts.

Where front-running success in such Historic races had for long years been the preserve of Italian Maserati 250Fs, then Ferrari Dino 246s and the British BRM Type 25s, the almost all-American Scarab-Offenhausers have in recent years re-written the form book on both sides of the Atlantic, driven most notably – and successfully – by respected marque exponents Don Orosco and Julian Bronson.

Here we at Bonhams are delighted to be able offer not just one of Mr Orosco's Grand Prix racing Scarabs, but two – the example comprising this Lot being the surviving and wonderfully well-restored original team car chassis '001', and the second – see Lot 331 - a painstaking largely original-parts re-assembly of chassis '002' which was severely damaged at Silverstone in 1961.

Mr Orosco's near life-long love affair with Scarab began in 1958 when he just 14 years old and his Aunt Agnes ("from Belfast") took him on a day trip to San Francisco, during which they took in a movie at the city's Orpheum Theatre. While waiting for the second feature during an intermission a movie short was run entitled 'The Sound of Speed', made by sometime racing driver Bruce Kessler for Scarab constructor Lance Reventlow, and majoring upon these glorious-looking, thunderously noisy and supremely successful American machines testing at Riverside Raceway, California. Open-mouthed Orosco was "absolutely mesmerized ...instantly hooked – just sooo cool! And that's what jump-started his lifelong passion for Historic racing and restoration...".

Sixteen years later he was able to find his way into race driving, facilitated by with the sale of the first shopping centre he had developed, in LeMoore, California. He had a Porsche Carrera Speedster, and "learned to drive it with $750 for a five-day course at the Bob Bondurant race driving school at Sears Point". Thereafter, there was no way he was ever going to become 'unhooked'. He progressed through Porsche RS60 and RS61 sports-racing cars to a Maserati 'Birdcage', an Alfa Romeo 8C-2300, Porsche 904 and 910, Jim Clark's 'Gold Bug' Lotus 26R, Lotus 23 and 16, and a Lotus 19 which he bought from Stan Mullen – who was the Reventlow family's attorney, so making a very useful contact. The list ultimately extends to embrace some 150 different types.

He never forgot the impact of 'The Sound of Speed' and coveted the surviving Reventlow family Scarab sports-racing car that was displayed in the Briggs Cunningham Museum. Having made contact with Stan Mullen, the attorney representing Barbara Hutton, mother of the late Scarab constructor Lance Reventlow, he then learned that Briggs Cunningham did not own the Scarab. It was instead on ten-year loan from Reventlow's widow, former 'Micky Mouse Club' actress Cheryl Holdridge. And after long months of negotiation through Stan Mullen and crossed-finger worry she agreed to sell him the car, the proceeds to provide her "with a new Spring wardrobe". The street equipment that Lance Reventlow had had fitted to the car had to be removed as it was restored to 1957-58 racing form and campaigned with tremendous Vintage-level success for many years, eventually being sold to a fellow enthusiast in 1997.

Meanwhile half-brother Richard Reventlow decided to commemorate his brother Lance by restoring the single-seater Scarab now offered here – chassis '001' – which was also on display in the Cunningham Museum, but in this case owned by Briggs himself. The veteran all-American sports car constructor and racing great suggested that Richard Reventlow should buy the car outright – for a reputed $7,500, which was accepted. Mr Orosco was left kicking himself - "I had always been just too embarrassed to ask!".

Richard Reventlow commissioned original fabricator Dick Troutman to rebuild the car around 1985-86. The desmodromic-valved engine that was installed was pulled out and entrusted to Jim Jones at Traco in Culver City for rebuild. Meanwhile Don Orosco had debuted his Scarab sports car in Vintage racing to rave reviews, and a chance meeting with Richard Reventlow prompted a suggestion that "it would be nice to re-unite the two works cars". In 1986 Mr Reventlow changed his plans – and he sold the single-seater to Mr Orosco for $68,500.

It was then that ongoing complications with the desmodromic-valved 2½-litre engine were assessed, and it was decided instead to adopt the InterContinental Formula alternative using one of the very rare 3-litre lay-down Offenhauser engines as used at Goodwood and Silverstone in 1961. Ex-RAI – and later Shelby and Ford GT programme – technician Phil Remington had become a firm friend and through him Don Orosco was introduced to engine specialist Vince Conze who had been Bobby Unser's mechanic for a period and who ran a machine shop in East Los Angeles. Only 55 220 cubic-inch 4-cylinder Meyer-Drake Offenhauser engines had been produced for the Sprint-car racing fraternity's frenetic five-nights a week programme, and they had been effectively raced into the ground through the 1950s until Chevy V8s took over. Of those 55 engines it merged that while working with Bobby Unser, Vince Conze had amassed no fewer than 16 of these units, plus a huge stock of related spares.

After a very tentative introduction, in which it became evident that this track-racing veteran regarded Orosco, the amateur Vintage road-racer, with considerable suspicion, the ice thawed and Mr Conze made available one complete engine – the best he had – for $12,500, a second for $10,000 – his reasoning being that I would have taken all the best parts in the first engine – a great day. Vince Conze had added "...and you can take the best parts from both", evidently motivated by "the idea of the iconic Scarab" while as Mr Orosco observes, "....maybe my being an Irish-Mexican helped".

Mr Conze then softened further, and allowed Mr Orosco to trawl through his entire Offy 220 stock, take all the likely bits he wanted, keep two engines and just return anything he didn't need. The main bearings in these magnificent power units are housed in cast-bronze web components, and the buyer found himself permitted to take his choice from no fewer than 36 such items – each one described with fling as being formed in "unobtainium".

This unique stock was completely cherry-picked to provide the parts from which two Scarab-style lay-down Offy engines were finally assembled and prepared for 001's return to racing. An assemblage of assorted Desmodromic engine components are available with this Lot, and the sister single-seater. A mahogany buck is also available for the whole engine as part of the pattern process – there is also a complete set of Leo Goossen drawings for the entire engine and every component part of it.

In Don Orosco's hands Scarab-Offenhauser '001' now offered here has achieved tremendous Vintage and Historic racing success over many years. It has been the absolute star of the Monterey Historics events at Laguna Seca and has shone as an always welcome entry in numerous editions of the Goodwood Revival Meeting in England each September.

Both Don Orosco and his son Patrick have campaigned the car and its potential is demonstrated by it having pulled well over 150mph in top gear along the dog-leg Lavant 'Straight' at Goodwood. It is self-evident that in the hands of a capable driver this is an Historic race-eligible front-engined Grand Prix car absolutely capable of taking a starring role, and winning, on any circuit anywhere worldwide. Most notably, here in the Goodwood Revival Meeting this car achieved a podium finish in 2003, while last year after a starter motor problem in practice Don Orosco catapulted from 19th place on the starting grid to 5th place at the chequered flag, while son Patrick in the sister car not only soared from 10th to finish 4th overall here, but also set fastest race lap – proving these Scarabs' sheer pace potential – and overwhelming all BRM Type 25, Ferrari Dino 246 and Maserati 250F opposition.

So here we are delighted to be able to offer not only an undeniably genuine, pure-bred iconic American Grand Prix car – the first to come to Europe as a full factory entry since the French GP-winning Jimmy Murphy-type Duesenbergs of 1921 – but also, as it has been perfectly accurately described, "...an absolute rocket-ship of a race car".

It is exquisitely well-presented, it is offered in recently-raced, uncompromised ready-to-run order – and it is available right here to provide a new owner with both the connoisseurial satisfaction of iconic ownership, utterly unimpeachable only two-owners-from-new provenance, and globally provenly race-winning capability. We recommend Scarab-Offenhauser chassis 001 to the worldwide market as being worthy of the closest consideration.

Please note this Lot is subject to 5% import tax if remaining in the EU.