How Glickenhaus Will Crash Its SCG 004S Prototype to Legalize America's New Supercar
To make it in America, sometimes you need to hit a wall.
In 2017, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus was granted low-volume manufacturer status by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Since then, SCG has sold a few road-legal 003S supercars and off-road Boots that can be easily upgraded to race specifications. The big question now is how quickly SCG can get its latest 004S supercar on American roads. The GM V8-powered, mid-engine rocket just completed the Nürburgring 24 in Competizione form, and its street trim is being road tested in Italy. And now, SCG needs to crash it.
The SCG 004S is a unique proposition in that it's a three-seater with a central driving position hand-built in America, and offered at a fraction of the price of other central-seaters like the McLaren Speedtail, Gordon Murray's upcoming GMA T.50 and the proposed Czinger 21C from California. The SCG 004S starts at $460,000 with Chevy's LT4 V8 at 650 horsepower, connected to a gated six-speed Graziano manual.
If somebody prefers the more race-ready 004CS, the 850-horsepower car with the dual-clutch seven-speed Graziano starts at $598,000. Yet before any of these cars could get a plate in at least 49 states, SCG has to hit a wall. Literally.
Large OEMs use several prototypes to get through the validation processes both in Europe and America as quickly as possible. Even niche brands like Rimac can build up to 30 cars at $1 million a pop in order to keep their tight deadlines. However, we also know from Christian von Koenigsegg himself how a single carbon fiber prototype can be subjected to all the punishment, with body panels, crash structures, subframes, windshield and other damaged components swapped test after test, only for the main chassis to survive without sustaining any unrepeatable damage. Koenigsegg's unpainted Regera certainly went through hell so that the brand's first hybrid could become a global product:
Luckily, carbon fiber construction makes everything easier, allowing for the crash car's monocoque to live a second life. I've reached out to James Glickenhaus to see what their plan is for the 004S test car that's currently under construction at their Danbury plant. Here's what he could tell us:
"Normally, it can take up to 15 cars to fully crash test. Because of the strength of the 004 and its modular construction, we think we can do all required tests with a single car. Afterwards, we will rebuild it into a race car or a factory demonstrator. This also got us thinking about offering total factory crash rebuilding at a capped price of wholesale. This would reduce insurance costs and ensure that all SCGs could be completely repaired and won't ever have "salvage" titles. This would be for all our vehicles. We want them totally repairable. The S and CS are modular so very likely a lot could be salvaged. We have to work it out, but this would allow owners to know that we want their SCGs to be properly repairable. We will provide all help a dealer might need to full do a total restoration if ever needed way down the road as well. Finally, we will also offer retrofittable EVO kits at a reasonable cost indefinitely as we are constantly re-engineering our vehicles."
I've learned that carbon monocoques can be repaired pretty much indefinitely from McLaren, whose experts told me years ago that given the 1993-1998 F1s' market value, there's no way any of the remaining examples would ever be written off. Thanks to the advances in composite technology, for the right sum, MSO can just rebuild them from scratch.
SCG's 004 carbon fiber tub now bound for crash testing looks like this:
Other supercars recently announced and built around carbon fiber monocoques include Maserati's MC20 and KTM's bonkers X-Bow GTX. McLaren also came up with a fancy new tub for its eminent fully hybrid V6 lineup. Once SCG completes its crash car in Connecticut, it will look something like this, the first driving 004S prototype. Great to hear that it's supposed to survive as a race car once the NHTSA homologation process is completed.
Selling road cars will also allow SCG to homologate its 004C for what Glickenhaus expects to be a "universal GT class" encompassing WEC, ACO, IMSA and DTM series after 2021. That's a step other manufacturers should watch out for, because the 004C has had a pretty great start with real-world racing. Three weeks ago, SCG's single 004C completed Europe's toughest endurance race against 33 factory GT3 cars without ever being calibrated for the wet, only to finish 14th overall after producing no faults during the race.
Racing is the only way a small manufacturer can truly test its road components to their maximum in a short time. James Glickenhaus claims that the 24 Hours of Nürburgring equals "100,000 miles of road testing" for them. Its success was hugely impressive, yet hardly enough to satisfy the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
With all this going on, SCG has also sent us a few images of its Le Mans-bound 007 WEC prototype, which is powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V8 built by the same French company that supplies Hyundai with its WRC turbo-fours. I think you'll agree that these Pipo Moteurs components are rather stunning even at zero revolutions per minute:
Meeting Toyota and the rest at Sebring, Spa and Le Mans in 2021 is a tall order from an American startup that has only sold a few road cars so far, yet as a Baja 1000 and multiple N24 class winner, SCG seems to be staying on schedule despite all the pandemic travel restrictions. Given the company founder's activity on social media, the brand's progress is easy to follow:
Le Mans, Baja 1000 and Nürburgring 24 Hours campaigns aside, how excited are you about a Chevy-powered, mid-engine, all-carbon three-seater central-driver supercar built to FIA-spec crash standards, complete with a gated six-speed manual? The SCG 004S shall be all that, plus more at under half a million dollars. $460,000 is hardly pocket change, yet I remember when a certain yellow Ferrari 812 Superfast press car totaled out at $474,486.
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