The strange career of Australian Arnold Glass
Posted 07 November 2008 - 23:11
Based in Sydney and financed by Capital Motors, Glass seemed to have both the resources and the ability to reach the highest level in Australian motor sport, but strangely never quite made the pinnacle.
Glass' career, which at times was touching the peak, was in my opinion, blighted by either the wrong cars at the wrong time, or by simply bad cars.
The Ferrari Super Sqaulo's were a difficult car and largely unsuccessful in the antipodes, but if my memory serves me correctly, Glass following a Ferrari 750 Monza, ended up buying two of them! It will be recalled that he almost won the Bathurst 100 in 1958 but was eventually worn down by Whiteford's Maserati - this being either car's outing of any note.
The Ferraris were followed in 1959 by the ex-Hunt/ex-Stillwell updated 250F Maserati - at a time when the top drivers were getting the current T51 Coopers - surely a case of the wrong car at the wrong time. However, Glass' performances in the 250F were impressive, finishing not far behind Stan Jones' similar winning car in the 1959 AGP and in 1960, setting the fastest-ever front-engimed lap time at Bathurst. This latter achievement was somewhat academic, given that the top drivers were then beginning to get 2.5 litre climax engines for their T51's.
At this time it seemed that if Glass could get his hands on a competitive car, he was ready to challenge the best, however, in early 1961 he imported the ex-Gilby Engineering ex/Salvadori T51 Cooper Maserati. Maybe Glass was impressed by Alec Mildren's 1960 Gold Star-winning Cooper Maserati (which seemed a whole lot better than the rather sorry Europeans versions), but the car he chose was never anything more than second rate in UK and was a very peculiar choice when as an alternative, a 2.5 T51 Climax was readily available. Needless to say, he achieved nothing in this car and fairly quickly replaced it with with an-ex works 1960 BRM.
Again, and not surpisingly, this car was singularly unsuccesful achieving no worthwhile results at all. The BRM engine was discarded and replaced by the ex-Scarab 3.5 Buick engine - another total disaster notably only for clashing with Jack Brabhams leading car in the 1962 AGP.
Thereafter, Glass raced a Lotus 27 twin cam fairly successfully and competently against the Geogehgans, Cusacks etc , all of which only furthered the frustrating question of what he might have achieved earlier if he had chosen the right car at the right time.
I note Arnold glass was nicknamed "Trinkets" and I wonder if this was in some way a reference to his choice of cars?
Finally, I have no idea of whether Arnold is still with us and I would be interested to know what became of him after his retirement circa 1963/64.
Can anybody provide some light on the questions I raise and more partuclarly provide any background on this now largely forgotten driver?
Posted 07 November 2008 - 23:40
In later years, post 1963 etc. he was very involved in his Datsun distribution and retail business at 100 Parramatta Road, Auburn which was very successful until Nissan themselves took over distribution in 1985.
Posted 08 November 2008 - 00:29
Posted 08 November 2008 - 00:36
I thought he owned Capitol Motors too, but i wasnt sure..hence my wording.
I was fairly sure the Gilby car was a T51
Posted 08 November 2008 - 01:38
Posted 08 November 2008 - 04:18
Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:01
Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:24
Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:33
Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:35
Posted 08 November 2008 - 08:44
(Notice I didn't say a red BRM - I remember the Centro-Sud car.)
Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:03
Originally posted by John Ellacott
Arnold Glass in the Ferrari Super Squalo at Mount Druitt ( Sydney ) 10 November 1957. Hell! 51 years ago am I that old. I was still a teenager when I took it.
THANK GOODNESS you took it, kept it and eventually ended up posting it here John
All the Best from a younger Codger, Mick
Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:59
Sorry I confused Gilby Engineering with C T Atkins....Salvo should have given me the clue and thanks for telling us when he DIDNT retire Vitesse.
As helpful and as intersting as all this is, my essential points remain on the table unanswered.
Do others think his career was blighted by bad choice of cars and notwithstanding that, how good was he?
How did the name Trinkets come about?
As an addendum I would have to say that only a mother could love the look of that BRM.
Posted 08 November 2008 - 10:39
Posted 08 November 2008 - 10:44
Posted 08 November 2008 - 11:58
No apology necessary, Derek
Originally posted by Derek Pitt
Sorry I confused Gilby Engineering with C T Atkins....Salvo should have given me the clue
The Cooper-Maser was campaigned by Atkins in 1959 and Gilby in 1960
But it was a T45, not a T51
And to answer your main point, as I suggested in the other thread, he was not in the class of his contemporaries such as Davison, Mildren, Patterson or Stillwell. Having said that, there were one or two flashes of brilliance, and his star might have shone brighter if he'd followed the crowd and raced less individualistic cars. But I don't think so.
I think the 'Trinkets' nickname started before his racing career, but don't recall ever hearing its origin
Posted 08 November 2008 - 12:54
In the meantime, I also don't feel he was on the pace in the 27, the only car I saw him race. No challenger for the Leo Geoghegan or Greg Cusack cars at all.
Posted 08 November 2008 - 13:24
Posted 08 November 2008 - 13:48
Posted 08 November 2008 - 15:01
Some talk about him on this thread in connection with his owning of a Mustang WWll fighter
Reading other websites it appears that he was the original importer of Nissans into Australia. Seems to be some dispute about the spelling "Capitol" or "Capital"? I can't make it out clearly on John's excellent picture of the 250F.
Posted 08 November 2008 - 15:49
And Ray - I agree about the Lotus 27 period. Not a no-hoper, but not a serious challenger either
My reading of 1982 British F1 series reports suggests however that by then he had fallen into the former category
Posted 08 November 2008 - 16:26
....if my memory serves me correctly, Glass following a Ferrari 750 Monza, ended up buying two of them!
Indeed Arnold Glass had one but:
- It was not exactly a 750 Monza but a one year earlier 735 Mondial (0462/MD)
- I have no record of him racing it but would like to know if he did
- I have no record of another sports Ferrari with him.
Posted 08 November 2008 - 21:46
Originally posted by David McKinney
And Ray - I agree about the Lotus 27 period. Not a no-hoper, but not a serious challenger either.....
That's right... he could pull off a narrow win if Leo didn't turn up at Oran Park...
'Capitol' Motors was named after the nearby Capitol theatre in the city, where he started out dealing in motorcycles.
Posted 08 November 2008 - 21:50
But not for Arnold Glass!
Posted 08 November 2008 - 23:05
As well as the NSW Nissan distributor he was also the NSW distributor for BMW which in those early day weren't easy to sell, bit different to today ! Russian motorbikes were another import for a while but the quality on the ones we sold was atrocious. I always thought the nickname "Trinkets" was associated with his surname, Glass. In the fifties most NSW racing drivers had nicknames.
Our dealings with Capitol Motors were mostly with personnel in the wholesale department and the Principal was always treated by everyone with the greatest of respect, always being referred to or addressed as "Mr.Glass," the most contact we had with him was on overseas trips where he was always most emphatic on the courtesy we should extend to our Japanese hosts.
I used to see to him occasionally at NSW Historic race meetings but haven't for some time and last I heard he was living in Monaco with all the rich and famous.
Posted 08 November 2008 - 23:17
Posted 09 November 2008 - 05:32
Originally posted by fines
I once worked for Capitol Motors...
But not for Arnold Glass!
Please don't tell me you worked in the service Dept in the 1970s
Posted 09 November 2008 - 07:13
Posted 09 November 2008 - 09:55
No, just a name coincidence.;)
Originally posted by 275 GTB-4
Please don't tell me you worked in the service Dept in the 1970s
Posted 09 November 2008 - 11:03
At one point in the early seventies there was a hailstorm passed through there. The glass building that surrounded the all-year swimming pool at Lidcombe collapsed under the weight of the hail, immense damage was done.
Capitol Motors employed an insurance assessor full time for three months to assess the damage to the cars in their yard!
Posted 09 November 2008 - 22:42
Posted 10 November 2008 - 04:44
I had absolutely no idea the Glass had a second or third career in UK and the USA. For all I knew he disappeared circa 1963/64 and never raced again.
I am struck by the fact that he was racing a 4CL Maserati - (a prewar car, in concept at least) - in 1956, a 250F in 1959 and was still racing an AC Cobra in in the early eighties - quite a range.
I am now further fascinated by this latter-day career and wonder what the arrangements etc were, because by that time Arnold would have been getting on a little - he looks about 35 in the 1960 250F picture.
And yes David, I agree with your appraisal of his abliity and your comments re his almost eccentic choice of cars, but my central theme still remains clouded somewhat - namely - why, when he had the resources, the enthusiasm and a taste of running near the top in the 250F to BRM era, did he buy a Lotus 27 and be content in the lesser formula?
Remember this was in a period when the top locals could acquire 2.7 Brabhams and Coopers relatively easily and was also a time when NSW drivers such as McKay and Matich were beginning to challenge the Victorian domination of the big Gold Star open-wheelers and therefore Glass' stepping down to a lesser level seems to me to be even more curious.
Posted 10 November 2008 - 08:03
Perhaps he was disheartened by his lack of front-line results or his inability to put in the time to get them... the last effort being the Scarab engine in the BRM.
His empire was growing, he was getting older, living up to greater responsibilities, perhaps even listening to his insurance agents?
Posted 10 November 2008 - 09:41
But i am afraid I have to disagree with you.
There is just as much aggravation getting a F2 car the the grid as there is in getting a big-banger there. - prepartion, packing, towing, mechanics, accommodation and worst of all, incompetent scrutineers. So Glass taking the Lotus from Paramatta Road down to Sandown for example, could not be described as scaling down his racing.
It could be argued that a smaller car is cheaper all round, maybe marginally, but as you point out, his empire was growing and it would seem funding was not an issue.
Personal danger? - probably more of a chance of an accident in a lesser open-wheel category than there would have been be in among the more experienced big boys.
Posted 10 November 2008 - 09:48
Posted 10 November 2008 - 10:31
IIRC the car run by Michael Schryver in 1500t/c form at last year's Revival
[i]Originally posted by Derek Pitt
...... did he buy a Lotus 27 and be content in the lesser formula? Derek [/B]
Posted 10 November 2008 - 10:46
Originally posted by Derek Pitt
But i am afraid I have to disagree with you.....
You're probably right to do so too... after all, I'm guessing just like everyone else... I haven't even tried to tackle the reason for choosing the strange cars he'd picked earlier.
.....There is just as much aggravation getting a F2 car the the grid as there is in getting a big-banger there. - preparation, packing, towing, mechanics, accommodation and worst of all, incompetent scrutineers. So Glass taking the Lotus from Paramatta Road down to Sandown for example, could not be described as scaling down his racing.
It could be argued that a smaller car is cheaper all round, maybe marginally, but as you point out, his empire was growing and it would seem funding was not an issue.....
I'll throw in here, however, that he could run it in a wider variety of races, many of them lesser events and therefore less time consuming. Like the odd Oran Park rather than that trek to Sandown, and he'd be more able to pick his racing dates to fit in with his business needs. A 1.5 would get a lot more dates on which it could run, even if the races weren't as important.
I think that if you go back and look at which meetings he ran, he missed out on an awful lot.
.....Personal danger? - probably more of a chance of an accident in a lesser open-wheel category than there would have been be in among the more experienced big boys.
But would the insurance boys see it that way?
Again, all surmise, but logical questions and assumptions. Until someone asks Carnal Arnold, of course, we'll all be just guessing.
Posted 12 November 2008 - 13:49
Posted 12 November 2008 - 14:12
Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:18
In 1960 GP's they achieved little apart from Hill's abortive effort at Silverstone and that, if one reads Sir Jack's version of the race rather than the hysterical British press, was anything but clear-cut and was rather more "like the exception that proved the rule."
Likewise in the international races out here early in 1961, the cars performed without distinction except at Ballarat where there was no Moss or Brabham and even then they both had difficulty with an on-form Stan Jones in his 2.5 T51 Cooper.
So in local races in 1961 we had Jones, Patterson, Stillwell & McKay in 2.5 T51's - the BRM was nowhere - although I am not sure when the car first appeared here locally. Did the cars go back home or did Glass buy them after Ballarat and why did he have two? Likewise in 1962, with T53 Lowlines and a T55 "penciline", plus Patterson's very quick T51, the BRM never looked like winning a race . The Scarab engine appeared to offer no improvement in performance over the BRM.
So the questions remains ....was the BRM's lack of success here due to it being a poor car or was it due to the fact that Glass was not in the class of the people mentioned above, or was it a combination of both issues?
Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:23
There's information about this in a thread elsewhere on this forum. It was before my time so I'm not familiar with the circumstances.
Posted 13 November 2008 - 12:33
The BRM might have been a "poor car" on reliability grounds, but was certainly competitive enough on speed
Originally posted by Derek Pitt
was the BRM's lack of success here due to it being a poor car or was it due to the fact that Glass was not in the class of the people mentioned above, or was it a combination of both issues?
Fastest practice times for the two 1961 antipodean races BRM contested against proper competition are as follows:
NZ Grand Prix, Ardmore
Moss (Lotus 18) 1m 20.2
Brabham (Cooper) 1m 20.4
Hill (BRM) 1m 20.7
Gurney (BRM) 1m 20.8
McLaren (Cooper) 1m 20.9
Warwick Farm 100
Moss 1m 39.3
Gurney 1m 39.3
Hill 1m 40.1
Ireland (Lotus 18) 1m 41.2
Brabham 1m 41.8
I think that gives you your answer
Posted 13 November 2008 - 19:40
And NGH wasn't bad either!
Posted 13 November 2008 - 20:07
At Ardmore in 1962 the track was in appalling condition. The front row were on average 5sec slower than they had been the year before. Glass was 13sec off the BRMs' 1961 pace
I can't do Warwick Farm because he didn't practise in 1962