James Glickenhaus’ Ferrari 512 S Modulo catches fire


Racing patron and tasteful collector James Glickenhaus is in the business of turning automotive dreams into reality, but his unique Ferrari 512 S Modulo just experienced a whiff of nightmare. 

Glickenhaus recently took the spaceship on wheels to streets of Monaco, where a muffler fire blistered the back of the Pininfarina-designed one-off. “Unburnt gas started burning in the muffler,” Glickenhaus tells us, and scorched the car’s rectangular exhausts before Glickenhaus extinguished the flare via an on-board fire-suppression system. Glickenhaus didn’t lose his cool, though, continuing to drive the car through the mountains and into Monaco’s Casino Square the following day. 

Despite the shock factor of scorch marks and peeling paint on a one-of-a-kind wild Italian wedge, Glickenhaus said on Twitter that there is “no serious damage.” “The fire suppression system made by SPA Technique turned what could have been a devastating fire into just a little paint damage and melted taillight,” he reflects. The fault, as Glickenhaus pointed out on Twitter, was not in his refitting but in the muffler, which was externally sourced from a firm with which he currently has no involvement. “Could be worse,” he added in another post. 

When the 512 S Modulo made its first public appearance at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, it rolled but certainly did not roar. It was up to Glickenhaus to buy the concept from Ferrari and shoehorn a 5.0-liter V-12 into the chassis of wedge-shaped sculpture that barely brushes hip height. 

Glickenhaus’ solution to the muffler fire will both limit the chance of future fires and leave the V-12 beast free to roar. “We will engineer a new muffler that’s louder and more free-flowing,” Glickenhaus tells us, “and build a system of straight pipes with a small internal muffler instead of one giant muffler.” The new exhaust tips will no longer be flush with the rear of the Modulo, but extend out two or three inches. Specifically, the new muffler design will restrict volume to prevent retaining unburnt gas.

When it comes to bringing history to life (and refusing to let it languish in a museum somewhere) Glickenhaus has more than proved himself. We can’t wait to see the Modulo repaired and back on the streets.

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