SOLD | 1965 Huffaker-Genie MK12 Can-Am
Joe Huffaker established Huffaker Engineering in 1960 to focus on and specialize in the design and development of competition engines and race cars in California, USA. Huffaker initially worked in the Formula Junior market, although in the early 1960’s this became inundated with new manufacturers and models appearing frequently, eventually becoming plagued by excessive costs. Joe decided this was the time to switch his efforts and develop a series of mid-engined V8 sports racing cars named ‘Genie’.
The first sports car was a Genie MK4 and was designed for the G-Modified category of racing in the USA. It had an 1100cc BMC engine, disc brakes, spaceframe chassis, fibreglass body and independent suspension. These cars were competitive against a strong field including Cooper Monacos. Following the Genie MK4 was a MK5 which allowed fitment of a larger engine.
In 1962 the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) was formed and quickly grew in popularity, attracting drivers, sponsors and car builders. For this series Huffaker built the Genie MK8 which was fitted with a variety of V8 engines, including Ford, Oldsmobile, Buick and Pontiac. The chassis was a spaceframe setup with the suspension similar in design to the small-displacement MK5, but tuned to accept the additional weight and power of the larger engine. Huffaker sold these cars as both a turn-key setup, but also in kit form, allowing individual customers to build their competition car, fitting the engine and gearbox of their choice.
Huffaker next built the MK10 which was a developed version of the MK8, featuring larger brakes, stronger chassis and suspension. The front and rear track was also increased with larger fenders to cover the wider wheels and tyres. The MK10 was competitive, winning several races against a field including the very fast Chaparrals.
This Huffaker Genie MK12:
The Genie MK12 we are offering here was the ultimate development of Huffakers V8-engined sports racing cars. A copy of the original sales agreement contained with the cars extensive history files confirms this 1965 Genie MK12, serial number 1001 was invoiced to James (Jim) Rattenbury on 3rd November 1964 through the British Motor Car Distributors (BMCD) in San Francisco, California, USA. The car was sold less the engine and gearbox, allowing Jim to choose his preferred solution. Jim Rattenbury was an enthusiastic racer who began competing in 1951 with a Jaguar XK120, before racing a Jaguar D-Type solidly for three years form 1958, claiming several victories.
Throughout the remaining months of 1964, Jim and BMCD continued discussion regarding engines and gearbox solutions, with Rattenbury settling on a Corvair 4-speed gearbox and Oldsmobile F-85 V8 engine which he sourced himself. In March 1965, BMCD wrote to Rattenbury to inform him that his Genie had been delayed due to the team’s commitment to the Indianapolis 500. Copies of this correspondence are contained within the history file accompanying this Genie.
However, all was not as it seemed as Jim explains “All they had built after six months was the lower frame and wheels. They said they had commitments to construct some Indianapolis cars and the I’d have to wait. I waited all right, but after Indy they still hadn’t progressed any further so I bought what they had, plus the body shell and started to work on my own.” Rattenbury feverishly built his car with mechanic Bill Bond, putting more than 600-man hours into the project, finishing the car in white with a red interior. Having completed the build over the summer of 1965, Rattenbury entered the ICNSCC (International Conference of Sports Car Clubs) Westwood race on 24th October, which he won by over 33 seconds! A hugely impressive debut for the 47-year old Vancouver engineer and his Genie. “It still needs more work, and I’ll be spending more tone on the car during the winter” beamed Rattenbury who claimed he was “very satisfied” with the initial outing of the $14,000 machine. Rattenbury entered one more race with his Genie before passing ownership to Mike Barbour in 1969 who entered five rounds of the Can-Am (Canadian-American Challenge Cup) championship in 1970, always wearing race number 70.
Can-Am was a series for the world’s biggest, most powerful, fastest and dangerous sports racing cars which attracted huge crowds and manufacturers including McLaren, Porsche, Lola and Chaparral. Champions of this world-leading series included John Surtees, Bruce McLaren, Mark Donohue, Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver! By this time, Barbour had repainted the Genie red and the bodywork had grown to become more aerodynamic at the nose, and now featured an enlarged rear wing to generate downforce. Barbour’s best result was 13th overall at the 1970 Edmonton Can-Am race, having qualified 21st in a strong field of no less than six Chevrolet-powered McLaren cars, a Ferrari 512S and Porsche 908. Clearly Mike Barbour was going to struggle to compete with the might of the full works teams and drivers in the Can-Am series, so decided to stop racing at the end of the season.
In 1972, the car was bought by Darryl Clarke who chose to compete with the car until 1976, with the highlight being fourth in the ICSCC B Sports Racing Championship in 1975. The next owner was a young mechanic specializing in foreign cars, Tom Munro, who bought the car in 1976. Munro started his competition career only a couple of years earlier with a 1959 bug-eyed Sprite, and upon collection, immediately began to compete in this Genie, finishing fourth overall in the ICSCC Championship.
A keen racer, Munro drove this Genie to 6 ICSCC Championships between 1976 and 1984, winning five consecutively from 1977!
In 1977, Tom won three races and finished second on seven occasions to claim a decisive Championship. The following season, Munro claimed the title at the final race having competed at ten of the thirteen rounds. 1979 was a repeat with Munro claiming six victories to score his third consecutive ICSCC Championship! At the end of this season, Tom’s driving ability and domination of his class earned him a nomination for ‘Driver of the Year’.
1980 saw Munro and this Genie again claim the B Sports Racing Championship, also setting a new lap record at the final race at Westwood. At the end of the 1980 season, Munro was elected by his peers to the prestigious Race Drivers Committee, qualifying him as a racing instructor for the Sports Car Club of B.C.
For the fifth year in succession Munro claimed the Championship in 1981 with four overall victories and six class wins. 1982 was tougher season with Munro finishing second in the championship, only two points adrift of Gary Heath in his Brabham. In 1983 Munro only competed in two rounds of the ICSCC Championship, leading to a fifth-place standing, but fought back in 1984, competing in seven of the nine rounds, and claiming championship victory by 25 points over Gordon Barron in his Porsche.
Clearly, Munro was an avid competitor and an accomplished driver, claiming six ICSCC B Sports Racing Championships in this Genie alone. In 1988 the car was bought by Bruce Trenery in Emeryville, California, who again competed with this Genie, mainly in the VMR series.
The next owner was well-respected Texan collector, Dr Julio Palmaz who took ownership from Trenery in April 1993. Palmaz is famed for his sizeable collection of significant Porsche sports racing cars from the 1950’s and 60’s, including a 550A Spyder which won the 1956 Targa Florio (Porsche’s first international victory), Le Mans class winning 906, Vic-Elford’s Targa Florio winning 907 and the Nurburgring winning 908. Palmaz embarked upon a thorough restoration of this Genie in 1995, returning it to its original 1965 condition with the fibreglass panels being repaired and repainted white, chassis inspected and all mechanical components rebuilt. After this restoration, Palmaz and his son competed with the car at several vintage race events such as the Monterey Historics and Coronado Speed Festival. In December the Genie was sold to Karl Gnadlinger, based in Suffolk, UK who kept the car for only a brief time.
In 2013 the Genie was purchased by a Swiss collector where it joined his growing collection which included a Group IV Ferrari Daytona, Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, and Alfa Romeo Giulia Tubolare Zagato. This owner competed with the car at various European events including the Vernasca Silver Flag
This car is offered with a sizeable history file containing copies of the original sales invoice, communication between the first owner and BMCD, period images of the car in competition, many invoices and additional documentation chronicling its story.
The best-documented Cam-Am car we have had the pleasure of offering, having won six ICSCC Championships with known ownership from new, this Huffaker Genie MK12 presents an opportunity for any competition enthusiast to compete at the upcoming Goodwood Revival or Members Meeting.