glass

(Heinz Federbusch)

Arnold Glass eases his Ferrari 555 Super Squalo into Mount Panorama’s tricky Esses as he starts the plunge down the mountain, Easter 1958…

Glass raced this car with success from November 1957- here he is contesting the ‘Bathurst 100′ on 7 April 1958, the race won by Doug Whiteford’s equally exotic Maserati 300S. Glass drove a great race ahead of the vastly more experienced, multiple AGP winning Whiteford. The Fazz’ engine blew within sight of the finishing line but he was able to roll over the line in front of the third placed car.

The engine was sent to Maranello for repair, but there were no 3.5 litre spares available so a 2.5 litre 1956 GP engine was sent back to Sydney that November. Glass became disenchanted with the car and replaced it with the ex-Hunt/Stillwell Maserati 250F with which he had more success.

glass albert park

The Glass Super Squalo being pushed thru the leafy surrounds of Albert Park during the Melbourne GP/Victorian Tourist Trophy meetings in November 1958. First meeting with the cars new 2.5 litre engine. (Kevin Drage)

The Ferrari was brought to Australia by Reg Parnell, he placed the ex-works 1955 chassis 6th in the Formula Libre 1956 Australian ‘Olympic’ Grand Prix at Albert Park.

The car was later sold to John McMillan, who rolled it at Mount Druitt, damaging it badly, the car was repaired by local artisans including racers Tom Sulman and Jack Myers and was then sold to Glass.

I remember seeing the car at Giltraps Motor Museum, Kirra, on Queenslands Gold Coast on a family holiday in 1973. ‘Twas sensational to look at, the first fabulous ‘front engined red GP car’ i had seen and therefore forever etched in my memory! Giltraps added it to their collection as a static exhibit in 1963 at the end of the cars ‘front line’ career in the hands of Arthur Griffiths and then Des Kelly, both Queenslanders.

#555/2 was restored by Noel Tuckey and a team of enthusiasts in 1975/6 competing at various historic events, inevitably the car was Hoovered up by an overseas investor in the 1980’s.

glass fazz

The Squalo at Gilltrap’s in the early ’70’s, a star amongst the other exhibits! (Sharaz Jek)

Arnold Glass is an immensely interesting character…

From a humble background, trained originally as a fitter and turner he made his first small fortune trading and repairing motor cycles. He was a racer and later an immensely successful businessman via his Sydney ‘Capitol Motors’ Datsun empire.

The following obituary was written by Malcolm Brown and published in the Sydney Morning Herald in January 2009- Glass was born on 11 December 1926 and died on 16 January 2009.

‘As a boy, Arnold Glass was directed by his father, a music teacher, to play the violin. But Arnold’s eye was firmly fixed on Popular Mechanics, a magazine for rev-heads, which he read from cover to cover, dreaming of owning a motorcycle.

Arnold’s father relented and bought him How To Be A Motor Mechanic. The boy who would become a dynamo in the Australian motor industry, a multimillionaire, sportsman and playboy, had his course in life set.

Arnold Glass, who has died at 82, was born in Newcastle and grew up in Marrickville. He left school at 14 to earn money for his family, which included three brothers and a sister. He became an apprentice mechanic and, at 16, left home and bought an old Douglas motorcycle for £3/15/-.

glass mt druitt

Glass racing the 555 Super Squalo at Mount Druitt, Sydney on 10 November 1957. Bulbous rather than beautiful? Stunning regardless, if not the most successful of GP Ferrari’s. The Lancia D50 saved Ferrari’s bacon when ‘gifted’ to them in the deal brokered later in 1955. (John Ellacott)

While working in engineering plants, Glass studied at technical college to become a fitter and turner. He worked on Avro Anson aircraft engines at Butler Air Transport and saved to buy motor cycles, which he restored and sold. In 1946, at 19, he went into partnership with Julian St John to run a motorcycle business. Operating out of a tin shed in Marrickville, they scoured back alleys seeking to buy motorcyles.

In 1947, Glass acquired a Tiger Moth, learnt to fly and developed an absorbing interest in war-vintage piston-driven aircraft.

In 1949, he and St John bought an old Chinese grocery shop in Campbell Street, opposite the Capitol Theatre, and converted it into a motorcycle shop, naming their business after the theatre. Used motorcycle and car salesmen depended on newspaper advertisements to find out what cars were for sale and would pounce on the first editions at 3am. But Glass paid a young Herald employee £2 a time to throw a copy from a lavatory window at midnight.

The arrangement was risky. The businessmen had a setback when they bought a stolen motorbike. Yet Glass wasn’t one to recoil from risk. In partnership with Bill Duffy, he bought an unfancied racehorse called Johnny Zero, which won consistently, earning the owners £30,000.

He bought used cars in Singapore and aircraft in England, selling them to rural customers in Australia. In 1951, he and St John converted a pet shop in Campbell Street into a car yard. The next year he bought out St John and, in 1953, bought land for another car yard in the Haymarket, selling Chryslers, Simcas, Renaults and Porsches. He was selling 1000 vehicles a year.

Glass tried punting but stopped when he was losing heavily. “I found something that could beat me,” he recalled. He married a model, Norma Geneave, in 1955, acquired a car yard at Lidcombe in 1957 and won the Bathurst 100 motor race. A daughter, Amanda, was born in 1958.

In 1961, he bought a car yard at Artarmon and made the critical decision to invest in Japanese cars, then rarely seen in Australia. Moving into William Street, he took over a Datsun franchise. The cars quickly captured the public’s imagination.

He bought a home in Cremorne, in so-called “Millionaires’ Row”, with its own wharf, but his marriage failed in 1963. “I’m not a family man,” he said later. “I didn’t have a lot of time or patience for family type life. I put so much into my business, none was left over.”

Glass contesting the 1962 Australian Grand Prix in a BRM P48 Buick V8, 5th in the race won by McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax (K Devine)

Glass raced many different cars, including Ferraris and Jaguars. He raced boats in Australia and the United States and competed successfully in marathon waterski events. He flew aircraft, buying a Mustang and British-made Vampires, and travelled to Czechoslovakia and Poland to fly MiG-21s. His restless energy took him spear-fishing with the prime minister Harold Holt.

In 1961, Glass slammed his BRM racing car into a tree at 100 kmh at Mallala, South Australia, after which he required plastic surgery. Bouncing back, he bought a seven-hectare site on Parramatta Road, Auburn, and turned it into the biggest car dealership in NSW, as the distributor for Nissan and BMW.

He established his own finance and insurance company, dealt in aircraft and boats and ventured into show business. Transporting himself in his Lear jet, he stalked and killed buffalo and lions in South Africa, crocodiles in Zimbabwe and bears in Alaska. His powerboat racing wins included the 1975 Sydney-Newcastle BP Ocean Classic.

By 1976, Capitol Motors was selling 23,000 Datsuns a year. In 1977, Australian National Industries bought the company for $28.43 million. With his 49 per cent shareholding, Glass took away $13.87 million, while joining the ANI board as deputy chairman.

He spent much of his time in Monaco, although he returned in 1983 to sack three ANI executives. He had demonstrated his toughness years earlier by sacking car salesmen who failed to reach quotas. Retiring to Monaco in 1984, he returned from time to time to see his daughter and her family. He died in Sydney.

Arnold Glass is survived by his partner of 37 years, Jennifer Hole, his daughter, Amanda Sorensen, and grandchildren Ryan, Tegan and Kirsty’.

Etcetera…

glass and 250f

(John Ellacott)

I love this portrait of Glass by John Ellacott, looking every inch the successful man he was- its taken at Symmons Plains, Tasmania in March 1960. The car is the Maserati 250F referred to above, chassis #2516, the ex-works Moss/Behra/Hunt/Stillwell car which Arnold raced very competitively from 1959 to 1961, the car with which he achieved most success i think.

I wrote an article about this Maser a while back, click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/

Gilltrap catalogue

From the Giltraps catalogue of display cars circa 1967, the Fazz Super Squalo is at bottom, at the top is ‘Genevieve’, the Darracq which starred in the 1953 British film of the same name. (Stephen Dalton Collection)

Credits/References…

Heinz Federbusch and John Ellacott photos, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, Kevin Drage, Stephen Dalton Collection, Sharaz Jek, Ken Devine Collection, Obituary by Malcolm Brown- Sydney Morning Herald

Finito…

Comments
  1. […] Arnold Glass had raced his Super Squalo since November 1957, having bought the car off John McMillan who raced it for a short time when sold to him by Reg Parnell. The car was an ex-works 1955 555 Super Squalo. I wrote about it a while back, click here to read the article; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ […]

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