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 Formula Libre ‘Bathurst 100′ on 7 April 1958, the race was 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 the Sydneysider was able to roll over the line in front of third placed Bill Pitt’s Jaguar D Type.

The engine was sent to Maranello for repair, but there were no 3.4 litre Monza spares available so a 2.5 litre 1956 GP engine was sent back to Sydney that November, factory information about the car and specifications of both engines are included at the end of this article.

Glass became disenchanted with the car, it needed the 3.4 litre Monza engine to be competitive at the pointy end of the field and replaced it with the ex-Hunt/Stillwell Maserati 250F when Bib bought his first Cooper- Arnold had plenty of success with the forgiving, fast Maserati in 1959 and 1960.

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 and Peter Whitehead ran identical cars in the New Zealand International races that summer after racing their ex-works 1955 chassis’ in the Formula Libre 1956 Australian ‘Olympic’ Grand Prix at Albert Park- Stirling Moss won in a Maserati 250F whilst Whitehead was third and Parnell sixth.

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

I remember seeing the racer at Gilltraps Motor Museum, Kirra, on Queenslands Gold Coast on a family holiday in 1973- ‘twas sensational to look at the first fabulous ‘front engined red Grand Prix car’ i had seen and it is therefore forever etched in my memory!

Gilltraps added it to their collection as a static exhibit in 1963 at the end of the cars ‘front line’ career which was in the hands of Arthur Griffiths and speedway star Des Kelly.

Chassis #’555/2’, re-numbered ‘FL9002’ when rebuilt by the factory as an F Libre machine, was restored by Noel Tuckey and a team of enthusiasts in 1975/6 and then competed at various Australian historic events before sale to Ian Cummins and then the car was Hoovered up by US dealer in the 1980’s- these days it is part of Bernie Ecclestone’s collection.

glass fazz

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

 

Des Kelly eases his magnificent machine forward onto the Lowood grid in 1961, Super Squalo still looks the goods despite its obsolescence as a front line Gold Star tool by then, the Cooper takeover was complete. Meeting date and result folks?(unattributed)

Ferrari had ruled the roost in Grand Prix racing in 1952, 1953, its Aurelio Lampredi designed 2 litre, four cylinder Tipo 500 had won two World Championships on the trot for Alberto Ascari.

They raced into the new F1 of 1954 with 2.5 litre versions of the 500, named 625- as well as a new design, the 553. It was fitted with a 2.5 litre engine which owed few parts to the 2 litre unit and a new chassis which whilst still comprised of two main longitudinal members was reinforced with welded on superstructure framework- certainly not a ‘spaceframe’ in a definitional sense but structurally better than what went before.

Suspension was similar to the 500/625 in having independent front suspension by wishbones and a transverse leaf spring and a de Dion rear axle similarly suspended. With its fuel low and centralised the car was squat, broad and low giving rise to its ‘Squalo’ or ‘Shark’ nick-name- three 553s were built.

In 1954 the 625 was the better performing car of the two designs despite Ascari first racing the Ferrari 500 at Modena in late 1951- he won. Doug Nye wrote that Ferrari built six, or maybe seven 500’s for their own use and ‘at least five cars either as new or from spare and cannibalised parts for sale to private entrants.’ All of these cars but one was converted from a 2 litre ‘500’ to a 2.5 litre ‘625’ for F1 use that year and beyond.

Ferrari 555 Super Squalo cutaway (G Cavara)

 

Paul Frere in the Ferrari 555 Super Squalo ‘555-2’ he raced at Monaco in 1955, Piero Taruffi started the car, Frere took over during the race- Nino Farina behind his #42 625 (Klemantaski)

Ferrari designed and built the 555 ‘Super Squalo’ for 1955 to address the shortcomings of the 553 starting with the chassis, which was of similar construction to the 553 but had larger diameter base tubes than its older brother.

The suspension was modified along the lines of changes made to the 553 chassis in which Mike Hawthorn was victorious at the Barcelona, Spanish Grand Prix in late 1954- the weekend Vittorio Jano’s Lancia D50 first raced and piled further competitive pressures upon Scuderia Ferrari who were already hard-pushed by the Maserati 250F and- from the French Grand Prix, Mercedes Benz W196. Front suspension used coil springs and revised geometry was deployed at both front, and to the rear de Dion. The three 553s were converted to this specification inclusive of bodywork changes, in addition to the four new 555s built.

The 625s were also developed along similar 555 lines- double wishbone and coil spring front suspension and de Dion suspension amended with the transverse leaf spring moved from above the differential unit, from its original site below it.

Maurice Trintignant won the 1955 Monaco GP in one of these cars to give the 625 its greatest success. Note that the two 500/625 cars acquired by Peter Whitehead and Tony Gaze (later acquired and raced with great success by Lex Davison in Australia) to race in Australasia and South Africa in 1955 were ‘original form 1954 works cars’ which had ‘Tipo 750 Monza 3 litre sportscar engines installed for Formula Libre racing.’

The fundamental problem of the 555 Super Squalo design from the start was excessive understeer- the best result of the year, on a high speed circuit which suited them was in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa where they were quick and finished 3-4-6- Farina from Trintignant and Frere. Regarded as a ‘fast circuit car’ the machines were not used again until Monza.

Note that the formal handover of the Lancia D50 ‘assets’ from the in desperately financially troubled Lancia to the desperately in need of a competitive car and haven’t got the budget to do so Ferrari, occurred on 26 July 1955, ‘saving Ferrari’s bacon’ and totally changing the Scuderia’s  developmental priorities away from the four cylinder cars to Jano’s V8 gems.

The Super Squalo’s were returned to Maranello and ‘lay in store there, while the totally obsolescent 553s had apparently long since been broken up…’Nye wrote.

The cars acquired by Parnell and Whitehead, chassis ‘555-2’ and ‘555-1’ were ‘presumably the least altered 555s, having their frames extended by four inches and 3.5 litre Tipo 860 Monza engines installed for Tasman racing…’

John Blanden records the Scuderia Ferrari 1955 race record of ‘555-2’ as sixth in the Monaco Grand Prix, the car shared by Piero Taruffi and Paul Frere with the balance of its outings with Maurice Trintignant at the wheel- Bordeaux GP DNF engine, Belgian- Spa sixth, Dutch- Zandvoort DNF gearbox and finally the Italian GP at Monza where he was eighth.

Arnold Glass in ‘555-2’ at Lowood circa 1958. Compare the bodywork of the car with its big, tall 860 Monza engine and the much shallower nose of the chassis in original F1 specs (B Thomas)

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)

 

Not working quite so hard in a display in a bank chamber, date and place unknown (B Thomas)

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 toilet 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-by then 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 named 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, soon the cars captured the public’s imagination his wealth assured.

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 a family type life. I put so much into my business, none was left over.’

Maserati 250F circa 1959/60 at Lowood, Queensland (B Thomas)

 

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 P48 into a tree at 100 kmh at Mallala, 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’.

Arnold, his face showing the signs of a practice accident, with Graham Hill prior to the start of the 1965 NZ GP at Pukekohe. Hill won in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A Climax whilst Glass retired after 3 laps in his Cooper T55 Climax with mechanical dramas (CAN)

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/

Arnold testing the Maserati 250F at Symmons Plains in March 1960 with Mick Watt’s MG Holden Spl in the foreground (J Barnes)

Gilltraps..

Gilltrap catalogue

(Stephen Dalton Collection)

From the Gilltraps catalogue of display cars circa 1967, the Ferrari Super Squalo is at bottom, at the top is ‘Genevieve’, the Darracq which starred in the 1953 British film of the same name.

 

(D Zeunert)

A bit of gold dust from Melbourne enthusiast/historian David Zeunert’s files.

‘A newspaper advertising clipping from my files of the Gilltrap Ferrari Super Squalo dated August 1986. Oh they were the  days, I have an extensive newspaper advertising collection of all of the cars that interested me. I used to comb the Age Motoring Ad section and clip out the ones I dreamed of owning one day. Its great to scan them 40 years later.’

I see Reg Purnell raced the car, the ad does nothing to provide me clarity about whether its ‘Gilltraps’ or ‘Giltraps’ either- there are all variations on the internet.

Ferrari works material on ‘FL9002’..

(R Croston)

Enthusiast, Richard Croston has a copy of this information on the general specifications of ‘FL9002’ and the detailed specifications of both the 3.5 litre engine the car was fitted with when raced by Parnell and the 2.5 litre unit the factory fitted when sent back to Italy by Arnold Glass.

Dated 10 November 1958, the document is from the time Glass owned the car and appears to be a letter and information in response to a request from Arnold.

You can piece it together yourselves but the gist of it seems to be they cannot be clear about providing more information about the car whereas in modern times the parentage of the car is quite clear.

The 3.5 litre engine ‘Tipo 129’ four cylinder, DOHC, two valve engine had a bore and stroke of 102x105mm and developed 281bhp @ 6000rpm, the gearbox was mounted at the rear and had four speeds.

(R Croston)

The 2.5 litre ‘Tipo 106’ four cylinder, DOHC, two valve engine was oversquare, having a bore and stroke of 100×79.5mm for a capacity of 2498cc and a rev limit of 7000rpm- no power output is quoted but other sources quote 260bhp. Carbs are two Weber 52DCOA/3.

(R Croston)

 

(R Croston)

Credits/References…

Heinz Federbusch and John Ellacott photos, John Blanden ‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’, ‘History of The Grand Prix Car’ Doug Nye, Kevin Drage, Stephen Dalton Collection, Sharaz Jek, Ken Devine Collection, Obituary by Malcolm Brown- Sydney Morning Herald, Quentin Miles, Classic Auto News, Brier Thomas, Louis Klemantaski, Richard Croston Collection, David Zeunert Collection

Tailpiece: Glass, Maserati 250F, Bathurst circa 1960…

(Q Miles)

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/ […]

  2. Richard Croston says:

    Fantastic read.

    • markbisset says:

      Thanks Richard,
      I wrote it a long time ago in a couple of bites, I’ve another on the other car- Whitehead’s, which is finished but not yet up-loaded, shall pop it up in the next couple of weeks. Oh to have seen those cars race in Australia!
      Mark

  3. […] I’ve substantially added to an earlier article on ‘555-2’- its grown from 500 words to 2600 in a couple of separate additions, so worth a look, its a bonus if you speak Italian… https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ […]

  4. […] Parnell’s ‘555-2’ aka ‘FL/9002′ passed through the hands of McMillan/Glass and others including the Gilltrap Collection on the Gold Coast and eventually into Bernie Ecclestone’s hands. Click here for an article about this chassis’ ‘Australian phase’; https://primotipo.com/2015/08/25/arnold-glass-ferrari-555-super-squalo-bathurst-1958/ […]

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