Steve McQueen was a legend in more ways than one: American heartthrob, 1960’s counter-culture icon, and avid race car driver and adventure seeker. By 1974 Steve McQueen was the highest-paid actor in America. He’d also already made his mark on the racing scene, having entered the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and several off-road motorcycle races. Now, McQueen’s greatest off-road legacy is being revived by Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ homage to the 1969 Baja Boot, a purpose-built buggy designed for the Baja 1000. Jalopnik reports that the Boot has finally left the shop and is in testing.
Boots on the ground
According to McQueen Online, the first incarnation of the Baja Boot was raced in the ’69 Baja 1000 by McQueen and co-driver Harold Daigh, where they completed 237 miles of the event before retiring with a broken transmission. At the time McQueen had plenty of good things to say about the GM-designed, tube-frame racer: “I’ve lined me up a sweet machine for this one. Called the ‘Baja Boot.’ Chevy powered. Four hundred and fifty horses under the bonnet. Space frame construction. Four-wheel drive. Independent suspension. And ‘smooth’! I can notch close to a hundred over a sand wash and you better believe that’s moving.”
Now, SCG has brought the legend back to life with the SCG Boot, a modern-day remake of the original that will not only race the Baja 1000 but be available in street-legal trim.
SCG claims “We find the toughest races in the world—The 24 Hours of Nürburgring, The Baja 1000—and design vehicles to compete in those challenges. Then we make road-legal versions.” The road-legal version of the Boot is built on an AWD platform powered by a 460 hp LT1 mated to a 4L80E transmission. With a whopping 19 inches of suspension travel, 17 inch Method wheels, and 39 inch BFG tires, the road-legal Boot is no pretender, and it would be no small feat to resist jumping every curb and median in sight.
For the race version of the Boot SCG will offer dual shocks front and rear, upgraded Wilwood calipers and rotors, and a race suspension that increases travel to an extraordinary 22 inches. The engine will be upgraded to a 650 hp LT4 and a race-ready Turbo 400 transmission. While the street version comes with a 45-gallon fuel tank, the race Boot will have additional capacity to complete the Dakar rally.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this whole build is that Glickenhaus is actually going to make some of these street-legal. 460 hp is enough to satisfy all but the most demanding street-car drivers, but the Boot is so much more than just power. There are a fair number of cars out there that offer 450+ horses in street-legal trim, but none of them are going to be as thrilling, as versatile, as fun as the Boot. The real-life consummation of the Boot surpasses all renders that were dreamed up by SCG, and the only question left is if the folks at Glickenhaus will follow through with the dual-pontoon water-crossing apparatus.
With just a couple of months to go, it seems SCG may be on track to give the Boot a full shakedown before actually driving it out to the Mexican desert. Assuming all the kinks are worked out in time, this could be one for the history books. There’s no word yet on who will be driving the Boot should it be entered, but one thing’s for sure: whoever gets behind the wheel of this dune-jumping speed machine is going to have fun. Lots of it.