SCG 004 – Update

Update on the SCG 004

SCG 004 – Update

In April 2019, we put down a deposit on a Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 004S.  At the time the SCG 004 (Decision Time 004S) was not much more than a CAD render but with over 7,500 hours of engineering design and simulations behind it.  Last week all that work came to fruition and the SCG 004 is now a running prototype and has just completed a full shakedown at the Cremona Circuit in Northern Italy.  In the meantime, SCG also build the Boot, an all-terrain mid-engine vehicle racing vehicle that won its class at the Baja 1000, beating Ford.  Not bad for a micro manufacturer out of Connecticut.  As a reference on how impressive the progress has been, we put done a deposit on an Aston-Martin Red Bull Valhalla one month before the SCG 004 in March 2019.  The only update I received in the balance of 2019, other than the choice of name, were some CAD images related to work on the aero in December.  We have since pulled the deposit on the AM-RB Valhalla for reasons that should be apparent to anyone who has followed the recent financial drama at Aston-Martin.

A bit of background on SCG, they have been around as a race car manufacturer and team since 2010. The big change however came in July 2017 when SCG registered with NHTSA in order to make road-legal cars in the United States. The 004 is SCG’s second car after the multi race winning 003. The SCG 004S/CS is really SCGs first “micro mass” production road car. SCG has several other cars in development and is now building a factory in Danbury, Connecticut. SCG has moved from just building pure race cars that meet FIA standards, to now also building road cars such as the 004S/CS and Boots, which meet all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
What initially got me interested in the SCG 004 was that it would be the first three-seater with center driving position available in the US since the iconic McLaren F1 was imported under the Show & Display exemption back in the late 1990s. The base road version, 004S, is built around a carbon fiber tub, with all carbon fiber body panels and is powered by a supercharged 650 bhp supercharged V8 supplied by GM. The 004S will come with a 6-speed manual gearbox and the suspension is inboard pushrod. There is a more track focused version of the 004, the 004CS which will have an extra 200 bhp, 7-speed paddle shift gearbox, center lock wheels and more aggressive aero. To insure driver comfort given the center driving position, SCG has designed in a significant amount of headroom with a fully adjustable Sabelt seat and an adjustable steering column. Excellent visibility is a given with the large wrap around windshield and the cockpit on the road cars should be light and airy with the glass roof. As the 004 is being designed as a race car first and then adapted to the road, servicing should be quick and easy as all the major components are designed to be easily accessible and replaceable. As an example, a clutch change should not take more than one hour. What’s particularly impressive here is the amount of carbon fiber utilized both in the tub and body which not only reduces weight but gives the car incredible rigidity and safety. This all from a small US company at a time when the world’s leading supercar manufacture is still building the vast majority of its cars out of the same material a can of Coke comes in.

First deliveries of the SCG 004 are scheduled to start this summer and all thirty 2020 build slots are long sold out.  Prior to the road cars being turned over to their anxious owners, the racing version SCG 004C will compete in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in May.  The racing version of the 004, the SCG 004C, is built to GT3 specs and once SCG has sold 200 road cars, the SCG 004C will be allowed to compete in the GT3 class.  I’m not sure how many 004’s in total SCG is planning on building but would like to see them declare a cap on the production run as it will both drive interest and support values long term, especially in today’s oversaturated Supercar market (Too Much of a Good Thing). 

One thing SCG is discussing which will both encourage long term ownership of their cars and support values is to leverage all the lessons gained from the racetrack. These learning will be used to create upgrade packages for the road cars on a regular cadence. If you consider that every mile driving the Nurburgring is equivalent to 100 miles of normal road driving and a 24-hour race weekend equates to 300,000 miles of wear and tear in the toughest conditions, there is a wealth of learning to leverage to continue improving the customer road and track cars. Since SCG’s race and road cars share the same chassis, engine architecture, suspension architecture, etc. many of the lessons from the track will be directly applicable for creating upgrades for the road cars. Instead of planned obsolesce like other supercars, a SCG will continue to evolve and improve with age.

What has been totally different to any other car I have ever ordered is the amount of transparency Jim & Jesse Glickenhaus provide on the SCG 004’s development on a daily basis.  There is a private message feed that all of us who have placed orders have access to.  The Glickenhaus’ regularly post updates and provide information to us well before its public release.  The message feed is a fascinating learning process as different components of the car come together, are tested, improved upon, and discussed (Building the 1st SCG 004).  What is also remarkable is how the Glickenhaus’ are open to feedback from the “Founding” customers.  I can’t imagine Ferrari ever asking or being open to feedback on the dashboard, cockpit layout, suspension set up, etc.  During the recent shakedown test of the SCG 004C in Northern Italy, we received updates after every stint on what was both working really well and what changes to the set up were being made to improve performance.  Based on what I saw from the initial laps, grip, downforce, and low-end torque are all strengths.  As a depositor and future owner, this sort of transparency builds an enormous amount of confidence that you have both made the right buying decision and will be getting a very special car that will likely exceed expectations.

Jim and Jesse Glickenhaus are well on the way to building a very special, unique supercar company. While Europe has multiple thriving small super and hyper car manufacturers, it’s been a very long time since one was successful in the United States. In many ways the company Jim & Jesse are building is tailored for today’s world. Its open, accessible, transparent, with a large social media presence. Its customers are invited inside the company and feedback is both welcomed and expected. When they say they are going to do something, it happens, and timelines are both real and respected.

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February 2020

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Great Supercar Buys 2020

Great Buys 2020

Great Supercar Buys 2020

2019 has not been a particularly kind year to the car market. If 2014 was the year that the bubble really inflated, 2019 represented a return to earth. I would not call it a market crash but more a returning to a more sensible reality. Some very deserving cars, like the Ferrari F50, have held value well, while others that got over hyped have not. In addition, as time has moved on, what was the new “must have” thing, is yesterday’s news and that “must have now” premium has evaporated. All of this makes for a very interesting situation going into 2020. A bit of chaos, tossed in with political uncertainty, always leads to a few opportunities. These are a few of what I think could be great buys in 2020:

McLaren P1

Of the 2014 Hypercar Trinity (Porsche 918, Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1), long term I believe the McLaren P1 will be the one to have.  With auction prices down over 50% in the last two years to the $1 mil. range, the near future looks like a good time to buy. In this league rarity counts and with over 710 LaFerraris (coupe & spider) and 918 Porsche 918s produced, the 375(ish) McLaren P1s make it a significantly rarer car.  If the LaFerrari is polished and the 918 is a complete technology showcase, then the P1 has a raw edge the other’s lack.  While all three are crammed with technology that may not age well, if I had to place a bet on which will age the best and continue to be supported, it would be the P1 given McLaren’s expertise in advanced technologies (McLaren Applied).  There is one major caveat on the P1 making this list though, and it’s the battery pack.  For the McLaren P1 to be a great 2020 buy, McLaren needs to come up with a cost effective the solution to the issues with the battery pack.  The issues with the 1st generation battery packs were a key reason we sold ours (P1 Farewell) and a long term solution would be a key reason we would buy another one.  

Ferrari 275 GTB & 275 GTB/4

While it may be a stretch to call a car that regularly sells for between $1.5 mil. – $3.0 mil., depending on the specific variant, a great buy but prices across the board on 275 GTBs have been drifting back down for a couple of years now. The top of the food chain 275 GTB/6c Long Nose Alloy body cars have dropped by close to $1 mil. after a run up in values that lasted from the turn of the century through 2016. With only around 774 road versions produced across both the 275 GTB & 275 GTB/4, rarity is assured. I personally believe this is one of the most beautiful, timeless, and classic designs ever to emerge from Pininfarina’s studios. As the first Ferrari road car to be produced with a 5-speed manual syncromesh transaxle, a limited-slip differential, four-wheel independent suspension, and disc brakes, make it still a very useable car today.

Ferrari 308 GTB/308 GTS

The Ferrari 308 is another car that had a major run up in value in the past decade which has recently dropped back down.  It wasn’t too long ago that 308s were approaching $100k (with early fiberglass models going for twice that) and today you can find a nice one for about half of that.  The 308 is instantly recognizable as a Ferrari, was the first of the V8 line of Ferraris that continues to this day, and a well sorted one is a delight to drive (Driving a 308 GTB).

Ferrari 430 Scuderia/16M

I do have a bit of bias here, the 430 Scuderia is probably my favorite mid-engine V8 Ferrari (Driving a 430 Scuderia).  As the last of the F1 semi-automatic single clutch Ferraris, it’s the best of the breed.  The gearbox is lightyears ahead of the F1 system in the Enzo.  Prices on 430 Scuderia’s seem to have dropped by about $20k in the last 2 years to around $170k while the 16M, after topping out near $400k in 2016, are now back down in the $250k range (430 Scuderia vs. 16M).  At half the price of a 458 Speciale, but more fun to drive, the 430 Scuderia is great value right now.

McLaren 675LT/LT Spider

In many ways, I believe the 675 LT/LT Spider is the best, most complete, car McLaren Automotive has produced (The Brilliant 675LT Spider).  It simply does everything brilliantly. We have had ours from new and it still puts a huge smile on my face every time I drive it.  Build quality is outstanding and we have never had a single issue with ours.  McLaren built five hundred 675LT coupes plus an additional five hundred 675 LT Spiders which makes the 675LT rarer than the 365 GTB/4 Daytona, F40, and Carrera GT.  With values today starting around $200k for coupes and $240k for Spiders, this has to be the most car for the money in the supercar world today. 

SCG 004S

Last but certainly not least is Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 004S (The SCG 004S).  While it might seem a bit strange to be recommending a car that hasn’t yet been built, try to find another car that is a 3-seater with a central driving position for less than the GDP of a small Caribbean Island.  Your other options are a Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale, a McLaren F1, and a McLaren Speedtail.  All basically fall into the unobtainium category. The 3-seat layout in a mid-engine supercar is one that I have been deeply intrigued with since I read an article on the Ferrari 365 P back in the late 1990s and saw my first McLaren F1 seventeen years ago.  The SCG 004S will be a 6 speed manual, with a 650 bhp supercharged V8, dropped into a carbon fiber tub and with carbon fiber body panels so there isn’t much not to like.  In terms of cost, a SCG 004S is not too far off what a well spec’d Ferrari F8 Tributo will remove from your bank account at around $450k.

On all of the above, I’ve tried to pick cars that not only do I believe will represent good value going forward but also (or will be in the case of the SCG 004S) great to drive. We have a firm family rule that cars which sit get sold. When putting together this list, I tried to balance both the current and forward values with the ownership enjoyment side of the equation. A few others that got serious consideration are the 997 series Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS, 993 series Porsche 911 C2s, Porsche Carrera GT, Ferrari 458 Speciale, Aston Martin DBS (6 speed manual), Ford GT (2005/2006), and the Alfa Romeo 8C. All missed the final cut as I believe they still have a way to go before prices bottom out.

A very Happy New Year and all the best for a happy, safe, and prosperous 2020.

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Micro Supercar & Hypercar Manufacturers

Views on the Micro Manufacture

Micro Supercar & Hypercar Manufacturers

About a month ago I posted an article on the saturation of the Hypercar Market (Too Much of a Good Thing).  In the article I mentioned a number of micro manufacturers who have jumped into the hypercar market recently including Apollo & De Tomaso, ATS, SCG, Brabham, and Gordon Murray Automotive.  In that article I picked the winners and losers in terms of the cars that had been announced.  Subsequent discussions with a number of friends moved the conversation from the specific cars to the Companies behind the announcements.  While it is all very subjective, we did agree for any of these to be successful it would take not only producing a great car but also having the right combination of financial backing, great marketing, service/ownership support, and a viable future vision.

Starting with Apollo & De Tomaso (both owned by the Hong Kong based investment fund Ideal Team Ventures) and looking at the above criteria, I would guess in term of finances, they do have the backing in place be successful.  The marketing behind the De Tomaso P72 launch has been impressive and the Apollo Intensa Emozione has recieved good press although I haven’t seen any reviews on how it actually drives.  Based on the AMG & SCG roots of the team that developed the Apollo IE, I would imagine it lives up to expectations, as it should given the $2.7 mil price tag.  While the Apollo IE likely is a great car, I was really disappointed by the De Tomaso P72 when I saw it up close.  I was expecting a modern version of the Dino, small light and sexy.  Instead it looked like the Dino’s supersized 2nd cousin twice removed.  While the IE is powered by a Ferrari V12, the P72 is getting a Supercharged Ford V8.  While I’m sure the Ford engine has impressive performance numbers, it’s just not what I want to see in a $850k car, regardless of whatever long dead legacy De Tomaso had of using Ford engines.  I haven’t heard anything about Apollo’s or De Tomaso’s future plans so I would guess its wait and see based on how the P72 sells.  While I can possibly see a future for Apollo as a very niche micro manufacturer of very limited edition hypercars that give’s Koenigsegg a run for its money, I don’t see much of a future for De Tomaso in what is becoming very crowded hypercar market selling what feels a bit like a budget P

Moving onto Brabham, in full disclosure, I do know and quite like David Brabham. He is a terrific gentleman and one of the finest race car drivers of his generation. Another race car driver that I have meet a few times, told me that David is one of those rare drivers who just makes everyone on the team that much better. All of this is reflected in both Brabham Automotive and their launch car, the BT62. The BT62 was launched as a track only car with a road conversion being offered only much later. Following that Brabham came back with a race ready BT62 Competition Spec which is not at all surprising as its competition that is Brabham’s main focus. Unlike the other small manufacturers, Brabham is really geared to be a race team that builds its own cars (and sells a few to clients) rather than a car manufacturer that happens to also go racing. This is very much in line with the same philosophy as the originally Brabham racing team where Jack Brabham both built, raced, and won in his own cars. As Brabham’s main marketing will come by “winning on Sunday”, the only question is do they have financial resources needed to be successful when the Brabham name returns to the grid at Le Mans in 2022?

Of the five, the one I give the least chance of success to is ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport). In its first life from 1962-1965, ATS built 12 poorly reviewed road cars, the 2500 GT, and one Formula 1 car that was referred to a “ghastly mess”. Why anyone would want to exhume this cold dead worm-eaten corpse is beyond me. However, in line with the brilliance of its first incarnation, for this 2nd go around for ATS is planning to build another 12 ATS GTs. The new ATS GT is basically a reskinned McLaren 650S for 4x the price. It’s akin to reviving Yugo and having them rebody VW Golfs and sell them for $120k each. Having seen pictures of the ATS GT, I would much rather have a base McLaren 650S. The only remaining question in my mind is if the 2ndincarnation of ATS will last as long as the first?

In terms of name recognition in the supercar world, Gordon Murray has to be in the top 3. If he never lifted a drafting pencil to paper again after the McLaren F1, he would still be worshipped as an automotive demi-god by just about all. With a legacy like that, I do find it surprising that he is putting it on the line for a second act. The first time around he had both the financial backing and technical resources of one of the most successful Formula 1 teams of that era. While I don’t know what his financial backing is, given the size of the deposit being requested on the $3.2 million T.50, it does seem like a lot of the car’s development costs will be covered by the eventual owners. While there is involvement of a Formula 1 Team in the T.50s development, Racing Point is not McLaren. In addition, other than a partnership announced with Canepa in California, customer support for the T.50 looks to be extremely limited and any major issues in markets ex US will likely involve having to ship the car back to the factory in the UK. What the future vision for Gordon Murray Design is also a question given Gordon is already 8 years older than most people when they hit mandatory retirement age. At the end of the day, do I believe Gordon Murray Design has the capabilities to produce a great car, probably but what the ownership support and experience will look like a few years down the road is very hazy.

Last but certainly not least is Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (The Ambitious Plans of SCG).  To be honest, I do have a bit of a bias here as we have a SCG 004S on order.  However, if I try to be impartial and judge SCG on the criterial delivering a great car, strength of financial backing, great marketing, and a future vision I do believe they have a very strong case on all.  To start with SCG is the only one of the Micro Manufacturers that truly embraces the philosophy of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” (where as Brabham is more “Win on Sunday, then Win again the following Sunday) as articulated in a recent tweet:

WHY WE RACE

Every model we build and sell has a road legal equivalent and Does, Has or Will race. Racing teaches us a lot. We also firmly believe, and evidence clearly confirms, that our racing sells our vehicles. We also race because we love racing and Glickenhaus does what it loves to do. @glickenhaus

As great cars are the ones that win on Sunday, and SCG has been racing its own cars since 2011 with multiple class wins, the models SCG produces should be excellent. “Winning on Sunday” also tics the highly effective marketing box. The final two criteria of financial backing and future vision are easy to answer in the case of SCG. SCG has already laid out a vision that includes five different models that will take them well into the next decade. The beginnings of a dealership network have been set up on the US East Coast so support should be in place when customer deliveries start in 2020. The factory in Danbury, Connecticut, which will produce these cars, is currently under construction. SCG is self-funded by the Glickenhaus’ so access to or dependency on outside financial backing is not an issue. SCG also already has a management succession plan in place as founder Jim Glickenhaus’ son Jesse, is the Managing Director of SCG.

As a firm believer that competition drives everyone to raise their game, all these new market entries should be great for the overall supercar & hypercar markets. However, the current oversaturation of the market, which will likely last for the next several years, making success and just basic survivability even more challenging. Of the five Micro Manufacturers reviewed, I would rate three: Brabham, Gordon Murray Design, and SCG, as likely to succeed. What all three have in common is a single visionary leader with a very clear idea of what they are trying to accomplish. In terms of the other two brand re-incarnations, I do believe they will find surviving a real challenge.

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Ambitious Plans of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

The Ambitious Plans of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

Ambitious Plans of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

When I was considering putting down a deposit on a SCG 004S ( Decision Time 004S), I took a long look at the rest of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ planned range.  To say the least, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG) has ambitious plans both on and off the race track.  I can’t think of another small car company that has announced 4 new models, all of which are planned to be in production in the next three years.  All four models are distinctively different cars, each will be engineered for both racing (denoted with a C after the model number) and the road (denoted with an S for base or CS for road & track).  The models range from the all-terrain SCG Boot to the LeMans LMP1 hypercar, the SCG 007.  All in, this is a huge undertaking. With the first deliveries of the 004S due late this year, we will find out if SCG is on track shortly.  

The fact that SCG is even able to make road cars, we can thank Trump for (full story starting at 2:10 SCG Interview).  Under US law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must respond to a submission within 90 days or it is considered approved.  When the Trump administration took power in January 2017, they basically fired everyone at the NHTSA.  SCG then submitted eight cars for approval in April 2017. When the NHTSA did not respond within the 90-day period, SCG had the approvals it needed to produce up to 325 cars a year as a NHTSA approved Low Volume Manufacturer.

The first of the models due out the door is the 004.  I have put down a deposit down on a 004S and we are expecting a very late 2020 delivery. The 004 could be the first (if it beats the McLaren Speedtail to delivery on the 1stcustomer car)  three-seater with center driving position since the iconic McLaren F1. The 004S will have a carbon fiber tub and be powered supercharged 650 bhp V8.  You have the option of either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed paddle shift gearbox. SCG is also building a more track focused version of the 004, the 004CS which will have an extra 200 bhp and more aggressive aero. The 004 will be built in a new factory in Danbury, Connecticut. Connecticut does host a number of major high-tech manufacturers including United Technologies, Lockheed Martin, & General Dynamics producing everything from jet engines to submarines so the manufacturing expertise SCG needs is readily available. With over 7,500 hours of engineering design and simulations already completed, things seem to be well on track.  I’m not sure how many 004’s in total SCG is planning on building but would like to see them declare a cap on the production run as it will both drive interest and support values long term.

The other car currently in late stage development is the SCG Boot. The SCG Boot is an all-terrain 4-wheel drive vehicle designed to race in the Baja 1000 and as a tribute to Steve McQueen’s Baja Boot. It will be able to climb over rocks and run at high speed.  Unlike the 004, only the S and CS versions will be available.  SCG has indicated that there are three Boots available for 2019 delivery.  The Boot looks like nothing else I have seen on the road and may be the first mid-engine super all-terrain vehicle ever built.

Following the 004 & Boot will be the 006, in both coupe and spider form, along with the 007 hypercar.  Both the 006 & 007 are targeted for 2021.  On the 007, SCG has stated that in addition to the WEC/Le Mans LMP1 class race cars, with which they intend to contest the 2020/2021 WEC championship with, production will be limited to 25 road cars.  I would guess each will carry a price tag north of $2 mil. The 006 looks to be a homage to the beautiful Ferrari 275 GTB and 275 GTB/4 NART Spider from the mid 60’s.  The pricing on the 006 is in the $250-300k range depending on coupe or spider.  Unlike the carbon tub on the 004, the 006 will have a steel chassis with a carbon fiber body.  It will however carry over much of the suspension design from the 004 and be available as a GT4 race car.

All in, in the next three years, SCG is committed to producing the first 3-seater since the McLaren F1, a LMP1 Le Mans race car, an all-terrain race car, and a fun classic sports car that will also be suitable for racing in the GT4 category.  Ambitious to say the least, especially when you compare this to Pagani which has produced two cars in twenty-seven years.  Almost forgot, SCG currently manufacturers the SCG 003 in both road and race trim.  It ran a 6:33 at the Nurburgring in race trim so SCG has proven then can deliver.  I very much hope they succeed long term as it would be great for the US to finally have its own supercar manufacturer.

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