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						Scarab Mk I Replica
Nearly New Scarab Motorsports MkI

Scarab Motorsport MkI re-creation with 200 miles

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

What does it take for a car to become an icon? Are good looks enough? What about all-out horsepower and performance? Without going into individual examples, I’d argue that none of these things make for an icon, as looks are subjective, and they make faster cars every day. What it really takes, is a great story, which can be made of all different characters and triumphs. Either way, it’s pure human nature to appreciate a good story, and the tale of Lance Reventlow’s Scarab racers is one of the best-kept stories in American racing history. Offered for auction here on BringaTrailer.com, this Scarab Motorsports MkI re-creation celebrates one of the most iconic American road racers ever built.

The Scarab story starts with the sensational character Lance Reventlow, born the son of a European Count Kurt Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow, and heiress to the Woolworth fortune Barbara Hutton. Reventlow’s wealthy upbringing afforded him a familiarity with European motorsport and exotic cars, and it was no surprise when he started a racing career at a young age. Reventlow piloted several great European cars during his professional racing career in the 1950s, including Mercedes, Maserati and Cooper race cars. But even with a fortune behind him, Reventlow couldn’t help but feel that European marques kept all the latest and cars for their team drivers, making it hard for him to compete. His answer was to start a team of his own, right here in America.

To understand the gravity of Reventlow’s task, you have to take a look at the successful cars he’d be competing against. Ferrari had won the 1957 World Sportscar Championship with their V12-powered 290 MM, 315 S and 335 S models, all touting the best Italian craftsmanship and power outputs up to 390 hp. Maserati wasn’t far behind either with the 245 hp 300S performing well in the 3.0-liter classes, and their 400 hp 450S boasting a dual overhead cam short-stroke V8 engine. That’s not to mention Jaguar, Aston Martin or Porsche either.

Regardless, Reventlow set up shop in Warren Olson’s sports car shop in Los Angeles with the mission to build an American sports car that would be able to compete with Europe’s established marques. The car that we recognize today as the Scarab was designed by race car builders Tom Barnes and Dick Troutman for Reventlow. The sultry aluminum body was designed by a fellow named Chuck Pelly, who is an accomplished designer today, but nothing more than an 18-year-old student at the time. In an interview, Pelly recalled that it only took him a couple weeks to design the car, talk about natural talent!

The heart of the matter was the Chevrolet small-block V8 engine, a power plant that had debuted just a few years earlier for the 1955 model year. But of course the engine in the Scarab was a far cry from the 200-300 hp engines Chevrolet was making. Built by Traco Engineering, Scarab small-blocks were bored out to 301 and 339 cubes, and produced as much as 365 hp with Hilborn fuel injection.

The completed Scarab roadster showed great promise, weighing in at less than 2,000 pounds, and she’d top 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds, and 100 mph in 9 seconds. Pair that with an innovative tapered-shim, adjustable de Dion rear suspension designed by Dick Troutman, and you had a powerful and lightweight sports car worthy of international competition.

The car proved successful early on in 1958 at Riverside. Chuck Daigh’s Scarab qualified in the pole position, with Phil Hill’s Ferrari closely behind and Reventlow’s Scarab qualifying third. Daigh’s Scarab would end up outlasting Hill, who retired from the race, capturing the win for Reventlow Automobiles. Scarabs would go on to win the 1958 SCCA National Championship, and with talented drivers like Augie Pabst and Harry Heuer behind the wheel, were successful through 1960. There’s also Carroll Shelby’s notable win and course record at Continental Divide Raceways in Colorado that also helped seal the Scarab’s reputation.

The story of Scarab as a race car constructor is a classic David-and-Goliath tale, with a no-name grassroots American team going up against Europe’s best factory teams, especially Ferrari, and emerging successful. Now that’s history worth re-living, which is exactly the idea behind this Scarab MkI re-creation by Scarab Motorsports in Overland Park, Kansas. This Street Scarab model was built in 2015, and since then has only logged 200 miles.

The car is built on a TIG-welded 4130 chromoly steel tube chassis, utilizing Wilwood four-piston brakes and Corvette C6 suspension uprights and hubs. Power comes from a 350 ci small-block Chevrolet equipped with Hilborn electronic fuel injection and (what looks to be) a Joe Hunt magneto. A TREMEC five-speed transmission sends power out back to a Winters quick-change rear end.

The iconic Scarab bodywork has been re-created in lightweight aluminum and finished in metallic blue paint with white and red accents. She rolls on 16-inch kidney bean-style wheels with accented knockoffs and six-ply Blockley rubber — sized 6.50-16H. A Lexan windshield protects cabin occupants, along with a single roll bar. The cockpit is fairly standard with a pair of buckets, a four-spoke leather wrapped wheel, an array of Stewart-Warner gauges, Tilton pedals and a dash-mounted fuse panel.

When new, this Street Scarab was purchased for $130,750, but that’s not really the whole picture. Consider this car that sold last October at RM Sotheby’s, which is very comparable to the Scarab here on BaT, which was hammered away for $277,200 including buyer’s fees. Considering just how comparable these cars are, I’d say it’s anybody’s guess where this one will land.

The current high bid on this Scarab is $51,000, with five days remaining in the sale. Find it here on BringaTrailer.com.

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