Better Late than Never…

Posted: May 19, 2021 in F1, Features
Tags: , , ,
Lance Reventlow front and centre with foot on the tyre. Scarab, Monaco 1960

Timing is everything in life, innit-like?

Love the Aston Martin DBR4 and Scarab as I do, they both missed the boat as new front-engined racing cars in the brave-new mid-engined GP world.

Lance Reventlow’s Scarabs really were crazy brave, but I guess you can be so, when money is no object. The Scarabs were beautifully designed, built and finished.

What is not to like about the slinky body, spaceframe chassis, bespoke four-cylinder 2.5-litre, desmodromic-valved, fuel-injected engine and four-wheel discs? The Corvette four-speed gearbox was a bit butch and last-minute in a GP car. See here for a piece on Scarab; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/27/chucks-t-bird/ This article is pictorial, making use of some great shots which have lobbed on the internet thingy recently.

Reventlow, and Daigh behind during Monaco practice. Cooper T51 Climax is Roy Salvadori in Tommy Atkins’ car, DNF
Reventlow about to be swallowed by Innes Ireland’s Walker-Lotus 18 Climax. The sheer economy of the Lotus says it all in terms of the front-engined-packaging-challenge. Arguably the Lotus 16 did this best albeit its results don’t suggest that…
Scarab 2.5-litre, DOHC, desmo two-valve fuel-injected four. Note canting to keep the bonnet line low

Had Reventlow and team-driver Chuck Daigh lobbed on the Monaco GP grid in May 1958, rather than 1960, things may have been a bit different. Still, the team were there adding welcome variety.

The degree of difficulty couldn’t be higher. New car, new team, two drivers who had not raced at Monaco before – or contested a championship GP for that matter.

Colin Chapman, late to the mid-engined party himself, had upped the ante with his new Lotus 18, taking the Coopers-concept and running with it.

The 18 was the car of 1960, only it’s ‘Queerbox’ transaxle let it down. John Cooper’s/Owen Maddock’s/Jack Brabham’s ‘Lowline’ Cooper T53 wasn’t too shabby either. It was a much more reliable device than the Lotus, not the least of its improvements was the Cooper-Knight C5S transaxle. Wouldn’t ole-Chappers have liked to have gotten his hands on a couple of those!

Reventlow with a bit of push, as the Americans like to call understeer. A bit of Phil Hill’s Ferrari Dino 246 following
The boss gets his hands dirty, Reventlow attacks the front suspension. Photos show plenty of understeer, perhaps that is the focus. Upper and lower front wishbones
Moss readies himself for a run in Reventlow’s chassis. Note Goodyear tyre and Halibrand wheel. IRS by upper and lower wishbones. Lance watches with paternal interest from alongside Daigh’s car. Quality of workmanship and finish clear

It was no surprise that the Scarabs were slugs.

“Just to see if it was the cars or drivers, Reventlow let Moss try one. He did 1min 45sec, which equalled Jimmy Clark’s time with the Lotus 18 FJunior, so the answer to the Scarab trouble was cars and drivers. However, there were other factors, such as first time out, first attempt at anything so exacting as Monaco, and the simple fact that their Goodyear tyres are not as good as the Dunlops tyres”, Denis Jenkinson wrote in his Monaco GP race-report.

Moss’ pole in the Rob Walker Lotus 18 was 1min 36.3sec.

Jenkinson mused about what may have been possible, “A set of Dunlops would certainly have given Moss 1min 43sec. If it had been his own car and fitted him properly he would have done 1min 42sec, and if he had been trying he would have got down to 1min 41sec, and if starting money had been involved he would have got down to 1min 40sec, which would have been a reasonable time for a new car to new conditions.”

Moss won the 100 lap, 314km race in 2:53.45 in his Lotus 18 from the similarly 2.5-Climax FPF powered Cooper T53 of Bruce McLaren with the best of the front-engines, Phil Hill’s Ferrari 246. The Scarabs didn’t make the qualifying cut, together with six others.

Reventlow from the Brian Naylor’s JBW-Maserati 250S during practice, both DNQ

Etcetera…

Reventlow, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at Monaco 1960. Man, didn’t he give it – sportscars and single-seaters – a red-hot go!

After Monaco, Scarab entered the Dutch GP in the Zandvoort dunes but didn’t race after a start-money dispute.

A pity as the fast flowing course would have given the team a better chance to optimise the car’s suspension before the flat-out challenges of Spa where lack of punch was always going to be problematic.

Chuck Daigh gives Jo Bonnier a lift back to the Spa pits
Daigh pushing hard thru Eau Rouge, hiking the inside-right

Reventlow qualified sixteenth and Daigh eighteenth (of 19) but both were out with engine problems after one lap and 16 laps respectively. Brabham’s Cooper T53 won the most-gruesome of GPs.

The final appearance of the Scarab in 1960 was at home in California, the US Grand Prix at Riverside in November.

There, finally, Chuck Daigh finished in tenth place, albeit five laps adrift of the winning Moss Lotus 18.

The last Scarab European hurrah were races at Silverstone, and here in a Goodwood Intercontinental Formula race in April 1961.

Daigh started his Offy powered chassis, 01, last on a grid of nine, finishing the 20-lap Lavant Cup eighth. Moss won in a Walker Cooper T53 Climax.

Daigh, Scarab- Offy 3-litre, Goodwood, April 1961

Wonderful colour butt-shot of the two Scarabs in the Spa paddock – #30 is Daigh – during the 1960 Ardennes Forest carnival of speed.

Note the offset to allow the driveshaft to pass alongside the driver’s left to keep his bulk nice and low.

Rear mounted fuel tank, big-comfy cockpit and beefy roll-bar for the period. The Scarab pilots wore a seat-belt.

Credits…

Don Orosco Collection, Denis Jenkinson in MotorSport

Tailpiece…

Daigh, Spa 1960

Chuck Daigh, Spa 1960. He did enough to be given some opportunities in a more current car.

In Australia he raced the mid-engined Scarab RE Oldsmobile in the 1962 Sandown International, impressing all who watched his professionalism amongst the Reventlow/Jill St John sideshow with which the local press were fixated.

Finito…

Comments
  1. graham64 says:

    As the Bonnier picture shows, at least the Scarab made a good taxi!

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