A few years back at Road America, the Midwest’s finest road racing facility, I ran into racer Augie Pabst and his beautiful metallic blue Scarab Mk. II racer.
Pabst, an heir to the brewing fortune, had been a succesful sports car racer in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was running his Meister Brauser Scarab in vintage races.
I’m a racing nut, but I’d never seen a Scarab before, so I was intrigued by the long-nosed front-engine car that looks part futuristic racer and part late 1950s roadster. Now, Replicarz has gone and produced a superb 1/18-scale resin die-cast of one of three Scarab Mk. IIs that were made and raced. This one was driven by another Midwestern sports car expert, Jim Jeffords, and features Nickey Nouse, the Chicago-based Nickey Chevrolet mascot.
Lance Reventlow, son of Woolworth heiress Betty Hutton, was a California-based racer who owned Reventlow Automobiles Inc. He had cash! But had seen how the European automakers only sold year-old racers to outsiders, so decided to have the Scarabs designed and specially built for his team. He was looking for an advantage.
Scarab’s designers were Tom Barnes and Dick Troutman, both well-known race car builders. They created a space-frame chassis weighing 127 lbs. and plopped in a special-built Chevrolet 283 V8 built by Traco Engineering. Its 365 horsepower made the Scarab a beast that was hard to catch. Its first victory came at the 1958 Riverside International Grand Prix in California with noted sports car driver Chuck Daigh at the wheel. Reventlow also raced his Scarab.
But Jeffords drove the first Scarab (chassis No. 2) sold for racing and once hit 192 mph in the racer. Scarabs were successful in the sports car ranks through 1963 when mid-engine racers started to take over. This model is of the Scarab as Jeffords drove it to win the Meadowdale Grand Prix in Illinois.
Replicarz, which has created an expansive collection of Indy 500 winners and other notable Indy cars, now moves into the sports car world with its resin die-cast Scarab. The hood pops off to reveal a fully detailed V8 with its bent headers that gave it a unique look. All the wiring and plumbing is here to enhance its authentic look.
The Scarab body (aluminum on the original) is beautifully shaped, looking like a blend of Jaguar, Aston Martin and Ferrari styling of the day with its sweeping fenders and extended headrest fin.
There’s black mesh in the large oval opening at the nose, realistic looking enclosed headlights and small red taillights, plus a silver gas cap behind the driver on the car’s tail.
Logos are scant, just the Nickey Nouse character in crash helmet on both doors, the Scarab logo on the nose and sides in front of the doors and a Champion sparkplug logo below that.
White trim is well executed on the nose, wrapping around the fenders and sweeping back to the doors, plus a white border beneath the clear windscreen. The only other marking is the black No. 10 on a white background on hood, tail and front fenders.
While the car is beautiful and that engine a huge plus, I really like the interior. The dash is full of detailed gauges and there’s a black steering wheel with 4-spoke chrome hub along with a white ball shifter on the transmission hump. You can view the black space frame supports in the floor and sides and there are two matte black leather-look seats with the driver’s including shoulder and lap belts with buckles.
Oh, and there’s a mirror on a pedestal atop the dash.
But the floor really sets this apart, and I know that seems odd. It looks like weathered metal, as if a driver or other seat occupant has been in and out of the car a lot, so it’s scuffed enough to look real.
Jeffords, the SCCA BP National champ in 1958 and ’59 always ran a purple car for Nickey, and this is bathed in a spectacular metallic purple.
FAST Stats: 1959 Scarab Mk. II
Meadowdale Winner, Jim Jeffords
Stock No.: 18901