If you’ve driven down Danbury’s Miry Brook Road in the last year, you may have noticed a construction project that has risen from a rocky hillside, spawning two massive buildings. The new home of North American Motor Car is the most recent addition to Miry Brook’s wild car scene. Down the road a short distance is Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, a boutique supercar builder, and anchoring the street is the longest inhabitant, Speedsport Tuning. The three companies couldn’t be more different, yet they share a common passion for motoring.
Speedsport Tuning (aka SST Auto) has been a Fairfield County fixture for decades, known as the go-to shop for European car enthusiasts. While SST built their reputation among discerning Porsche owners looking for an alternative to dealer service departments, in the past 15 years, and at the urging of clients, the company has expanded to most European brands. The business is comprised of four components: Porsche service, European service, Porsche vintage and Competition. The Porsche department handles everything from routine service to major repair while the European service department does the same for non-Porsche brands from Audi and BMW to Mercedes, Volvo and VW. The Speedsport Vintage Porsche department is world-renowned, caring for some of the rarest and most sought-after Porsches in existence. For a Porschephile, it’s like walking into
On the opposite side of the building is the Speedsport Competition department. This is where amateur racers and track enthusiasts have their Porsches maintained, set-up and transported to race tracks up and down the East Coast. As a testament to the excellence of their technicians, Speedsport clients consistently win races from Watkins Glen to Sebring.
Stepping into their 25,000 square foot facility recently with SST owner Bryan Lagas, I saw a 2021 Mercedes SUV getting an oil change alongside a BMW E46 M3 receiving a performance suspension. Across the way a 356 Outlaw Coupe was in for a carburetor adjustment, while a pristine 928 was receiving a major mechanical overhaul. Over on the alignment rack, a bright green 992 GT3 was getting a tweak to better suit the driving style of the owner. For many of their clients, it’s a point of pride to say they bring their cars to SST. When you trust someone, why go anywhere else?
The Supercar Builder
Across the street from SST, in a building that was once part of the Highcroft Racing team, is Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, aka SCG. Founded by car collector and former movie director Jim Glickenhaus, SCG is building some of the most interesting and exciting performance vehicles on the planet. From the 004S three-seat supercar to the SCG Boot, a 650hp go-anywhere SUV, the common thread is the racing roots of their vehicles. Jim has a serious passion for motorsports, evident in the cars that make up his personal collection. In 2011, SCG entered and finished the grueling Nürburgring 24-hour race in a car of their own design. Most people would be content with that achievement. But not Jim. In recent years the team has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Baja 1000, where they’ve twice won their class.
Jim’s son, Jesse, heads up the Danbury operations, where SCG is building the 004S. They let me drive the prototype and I was blown away. I’ve driven quite a few sportscars, but the design of the 004S with its center seat position, even in this raw form, was truly thrilling. The outward visibility and sense of control is a revelation. And unlike other sportscars, with two passenger seats, it could even work as a family car. The 004S shares a basic design and carbon fiber monocoque with the 004C which is a full-blown GT3 spec racecar.
The company also produces the Glickenhaus Boot, one of the wildest vehicles you’ll ever lay eyes on. Back in 2010, Jim bought Steve McQueen’s Baja Boot which the actor raced in the 1969 Baja 1000. Jim felt a modern version of the radically designed off-road racer would be a compelling contrast to today’s cushy, street-focused SUVs. The Glickenhaus Boot retains the original’s rear-mounted V8 design with massive exposed exhaust pipes, while using modern technology to deliver performance McQueen could only dream of. If I had a spare $300k, there would be one in my driveway. After driving it, I couldn’t get the smile off my face for a week.
North American Motor Car
Which brings us to North American Motor Car. The brainchild of Chris Bishop and Andy Hill, NAMC is a seriously ambitious undertaking. The two new buildings compromise 50,000 square feet featuring environmentally-controlled storage, complete car fabrication, restoration and consignment. The rear building has storage capacity for 267 vehicles, a glass-enclosed detail shop and a VIP lounge, complete with a high-end air filtration system for clients who like cigars. There will be various membership plans for folks who want to store their vehicles as well as those who just want the social aspect of hanging with other auto enthusiasts.
The front building houses the corporate offices, a complete metal fabrication shop, service bays, wiring and electronics, an interior shop, and one of the largest paint booths I’ve ever seen. NAM can help you find a car, sell one you own, or build your dream vehicle from scratch. If your existing car needs a refresh, their restoration services can handle every aspect. Clients picking up their vehicle will have a memorable experience as the car will be unveiled on a rotating turntable in the main hall. Overlooking the atrium is a spacious event space which NAM will rent out when not using for their own clients. The company expects to be operational by early summer with their current 19 employees, with plans and room to expand. While the vision might seem overly ambitious, consider that Chris, along with his father and brother, founded and built Blue Buffalo Pet Products, which they sold to General Foods. In addition to being a massive car enthusiast, Chris is also a big supporter of veteran’s groups and his positive attitude is infectious.
Considering these three companies, and the smaller auto specialty businesses in the area, maybe it’s time to rename the Hat City the Motor City. With apologies to Detroit, of course.