Back then, many off-road racers were based on the ubiquitous VW Beetle. But Hickey wanted to make a bespoke engineering masterpiece for a new race down the Baja peninsula. He had just 26 days, so he constructed a steel tubular frame, dropped a Chevy Camaro V8 directly behind the driver (like in a GP car), and hooked it up to an automatic gearbox (to make driving off-road more manageable). He then added Corvette differentials, four-wheel drive, a trick transfer case, close-ratio power steering, torsion-bar suspension, chunky tires, and disc brakes. He christened it the ‘Baja Boot,’ as it raced down the length of Mexico, and it grabbed the attention of Hollywood’s Steve McQueen, who competed in it the following year.
For the time, Hickey’s design was wild. So wild that people didn’t cotton on to it. But solid logic never ages—you just have to wait for technology to catch up and do it justice. And, spurred on by the rise of the super-SUV, Glickenhaus believes that time is now. Having bought the original Boot (only two were ever made) at auction a few years ago, he had its technical drawings, so he assembled a team of off-road’s brainiest brains to give these blueprints a 21st-century twist. Two-time Dakar and six class-title Baja 1000 champ Darren Skilton led the project, while Elliot Pollock and Armada Engineering (known for pushing boundaries with King of the Hammers builds) were drafted to make designer Michael Young’s 2019, um, reboot a reality. And, less than two years later, it’s very much a reality. How Glickenhaus.
Twenty-four hours ago, we were in Los Angeles, California. That’s where Glickenhaus agreed to meet. I rocked up on an unassuming residential street to the sight of Steve McQueen’s Boot casually sat on the back of a trailer, interrupted by the noise of a thunderous V8 and fresh, squeaky brake pads coming the other way. It was Skilton, commuting back from the Boot manufacturing facility in Chatsworth in the new generation. “F*ck!” was the most articulate phrase I could muster at the time. These things look incredible together. Especially on a street, juxtaposed with bland crossovers and pickups.
But Glickenhaus, being Glickenhaus, wanted to prove a point. Instead of trailering the new Boot to Mexico for me to have a go, he threw me the keys and told me to drive down while he’d bring Steve McQueen’s car along for a desert thrashing, too. Win, win.