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Scarab History

Lance Reventlow and his close friend Bruce Kessler were from wealthy families and took up the relatively new sport in the US of sports car racing. They visited the various European manufacturers and returned home after deciding they could build a better car.

Reventlow funded the new car company, Reventlow Automobile Incorporated, in August 1957 with the mission to build an all-American racer and compete and win in Europe against the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin and Jaguar.

Reventlow recruited some of the best developers, designers and fabricators in the business.

The body was designed by Chuck Pelly and fabricated by Emil Deidt. The chassis was a light and strong spaceframe made from 4130 chromoly tubing. Suspension was double wishbone with coil-over springs and shocks in the front. At the back a DeDion axle and Watts link with inboard brakes, coil over shocks and springs, Halibrand quick change differential and revolutionary radially adjustable rear hubs for fast alignment setups. Power was from specially Traco built Chevrolet V-8 engines with Hilborn fuel injection system producing up to 380 hp with Corvette 4-speed transmissions. The painting and design were completed by Von Dutch who also designed the Scarab Logo.

The three sports racers were built in 1958 and were among the fastest and best handling race cars in the world. They were unbeatable in the 1958 season, conquering the Cunningham Listers and the big-bore Ferrari and Maserati sports racers. Their greatest win was at the 1958 LA Times Grand Prix at Riverside Raceway. Chuck Daigh driving the second built Scarab, won the race against an international field including future F1 Champion Phil Hill driving a special V-12 Ferrari.

From 1957 to 1962 Reventlow built a total of 8 cars. The first 3 were front engine sports cars, one mid engine, 3 front engine Formula cars and one rear engine Formula Libre car. The most successful were the 3 front engine sports racers.

 

In 1959 the first car, was converted to a street car for Reventlow and the second and third, were sold to race teams in the Mid-west.​

Harry Heuer of Milwaukee Wisconsin, convinced the Peter Hand Brewery to sponsor a race team with the promise he would bring home a championship trophy each year. His first goal was to find a car that would be up to the task of winning championships and for that, he choose the two front engine Scarab sports racers in 1959. 

In addition to Heurer, additional drivers were brought on board: Augie Pabst, Don Devine, Bill Wuesthoff and John Kilborn with Red Byron, the first NASCAR Champion, as the team manager. The crew dubbed "Heuer's Black Jackets" were John Wonderer, Bill Leahy, Willey Weis, Jack Bashchieri, Pete Digrado, Jack Sullivan and Jack Choice.  Carroll Shelby drove the Meister Brauser Scarab 002 to victory in one of his last races in June 1960 for the Meister Brauser team.

Heuer's Meister Brauser Scarabs won 5 SCCA championships, one each year, from 1959 to 1963 as promised.

Between 1958 and 1963, the front engine Scarabs entered 93 races, with 39 overall wins and 32 podium finishes. An incredible record for a race car designed in 1957 and remain competitive for six full race seasons.

Today, the three Scarab sports racers remain in America and are in the collections of the world's most successful automotive enthusiasts.

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