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1959 Huffaker BMC MK1

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History

Joe Huffaker got his start in the automotive business creating racing specials and Formula Juniors, before moving into the competitive and exciting market of large displacement sports racing cars. The Formula Junior market had been a successful venture for Huffaker, but by the early 1960s it had become too competitive, with new makes and models appearing very frequently. Huffaker left the diluted scene, which was becoming plagued by high costs, for something with slightly more cubic capacity.

Huffaker Engineering sold their Formula Junior race cars for around $4,500 which included an engine. The cost was lower if the buyer just wanted it without the engine, including just running gear, fiberglass body, ladder chassis, and suspension.

By the late 1950s, the front-engined design was being displaced for the more popular mid-engine setup. Those marque's that chose to keep the front-engined design soon found their cars running near the back of the pack. Huffaker's BMC FJ racers had the front-engine design and was dubbed the MKI. It had an engine that was mounted at a 35-degree angle and mated to a four-speed BMC gearbox. Drum brakes could be found at all four corners. The completed car weighed a mere 750lbs which made it too light to pass regulations. To comply with rules, extra weight was added.

Power was from a modified Austin A-40 A-series engine that was given larger valves, modified cam and pistons, and a side-draft Weber carburetor. Horsepower was impressive at nearly 90 BHP from the small 980cc unit. With this finely tuned unit and experienced factory drivers, the BMC MKI earned nine first place finishes and two seconds. Though this was extremely impressive, the fact that they had only three DNFs was a true testament to the cars stamina and durability.

By 1960, the mid-engine design made the front-engined cars nearly obsolete. Huffaker responded to this new trend by creating the MKII. The MK2 had a wheelbase that measured 85-inches, a Volkswagen transaxle, and a coil-over suspension in both the front and rear. Drum brakes were at all four corners.

In competition, the MK2 were certainly fast and had track times better than the MKI. They could keep pace with the Lotus 18 but were soon overshadowed when Lotus unveiled their new car - the Lotus 20 in 1961. The Cooper MK2 cars were also quicker.

As a result, only 14 examples of the BMC MK2 were created plus a few kits. An MKII cost nearly $4,000 while the kit was priced at about $2,000.

The BMC MKII was powered by a new Formula Junior engine that displaced 1100cc and produced nearly 100 horsepower.


By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009
Formula Junior Vehicles

Huffaker

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