James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey

Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey

The golf courses surrounding Pebble Beach flood with Bentleys and Jaguars and exotic Italian cars every August, but there's only one Baja racer driven by Steve McQueen. And thanks to new owner James Glickenhaus, it's been upgraded to 100% street legal.

Glickenhaus bought the Hurst Baja Boot at last year's Monterey auctions for $220,000 — a price that gives him freedom to alter the vehicle without some preservationist screaming about it. His changes have been minimal; the largest was simply adding a firewall to protect himself while driving. (Which means the men who raced this before, including McQueen, tackled the Baja desert with an experimental V8 exploding gasoline five inches from their heads and nothing in between.)

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Built in 24 days, the Boot ran the first of what would become the Baja 1000 in 1967; McQueen raced it himself twice, with both efforts ending early due to broken parts. McQueen's partner in dust Bud Ekins won the race with the Boot in 1969, and it ran desert races successfully for much of the '70s before retirement.

The Boot is strange. The GM engineers who built it — some of whom also built the lunar rover for NASA — reversed the normal engine layout, so that the radiator is at the back end, with the 350-cu. in. V8 engine and transmission pointing rearwards. Fuel gets squirted through a wonky experimental Weber injection system, and the fuel sits directly in front of the windshield.

Glickenhaus told me he wanted a car "that I could survive the apocalypse with," and in that the Boot is clearly qualified. And per standard Scuderia Glickenhaus operating procedure, the Boot is now registered for everyday driving in New York — thanks in part to GM's decision to give it a VIN for an experimental Chevy in 1967. Wave the next time you see it.


You can keep up with Justin Hyde, the author of this post, on Twitter or Facebook.

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Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey
Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey
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Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey
Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey
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Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey
Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey
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Illustration for article titled James Glickenhaus brings the Hurst Baja Boot back to Monterey

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DISCUSSION

jamesglickenhaus
James Glickenhaus

Hi

There were two Boots mine is Boot 1 and Steve did drive it. It's also the one that Bud won the Baja 500 in. It was raced and modified for many years and at Quail a Baja Organiser came by and confirmed it's Baja History and invited me to run it there in their exhibition event. The tires we've mounted aren't Baja Tires but ones that work on the road as the original Baja tires don't work too well on tarmac. We have tons of original parts that came with the Boot including it's original dash/gauges/and knife switches but for the time being we're going to leave it as it was later modified. We got everything working and added better mufflers so we no longer set off car alarms and redid the fuel cell bladders.

We'll take her off road at the ignaugration of the Monticello Motor Club off road course in a few weeks.

Over the winter we'll complete our list, Ball Joints etc. and reverse the air flow through her radiator to lessen cockpit fumes and add rear nerf radiator protecting bars.

She's great to drive and I plan to put many, many miles on her.

Best