Wednesday, May 05, 2010

First Baja Pre-Runner Turns 100 Years Young! SPECIAL 100 Off-Road Years Find!


First Baja Mexico pre-runner turns
100 this year, 2010.

Re-introducing the HUNT SPECIAL!

2010 is a special year for Baja California and Mexico. It's also the year Baja Off-Road Racing fans can celebrate the origins of the sport, with the re-introduction of the REAL Granddaddy of them all, the 1910 Hunt Special!

William H. Hunt and his brother Clarence
were machinists in National City, California, located halfway between San Diego and the Mexican border, in San Diego's 'south county or south bay'.

Following a visit from a representative of the Ford Motor Company in 1904, they became the first automobile dealers in town. Over the next two years the brothers only sold one car, but they created a lively repair business among other ventures.

They also hired themselves out as chauffeur/mechanics for special trips.

Anyone in the 'auto-business' or anyone who owned an 'auto' was called an 'autoist', a term from the turn of the century. In this service, Arnie Babcock, son of the man who had built the Hotel Del Coronado (who lived on his cattle ranch 40 miles south of Ensenada, Mexico) contacted Clarence Hunt.

Arnie's many meetings and doctor appointments in San Diego (he had contracted tuberculosis) were taking a toll on his autos, even with Clarence in the drivers seat.

The wagon roads between San Diego and Ensenada were very rough and kept Arnie's cars in the Hunt brothers' shop.
Arnie Babcock commissioned the building of a car that could perform over the tough stretches of wagon roads and those long stretches of off-road conditions so common at the turn of the century.

Considering these were the first mechanized wagons or 'autos' in
Baja Mexico, the wagon roads were the only roads. The rest of the territory at the time was, off-road. Better yet, non-road conditions.

The amazing machine developed back in those old days, is called the Hunt Special (1910) and nicknamed 'Alkali Ike'. This nickname came from its incredible performance in those long stretches of desert or inhospitable stretches of roadless ramblings. And the dust left on the 'special' after those long desert trips.

Babcock commissioned the build in 1908 for $16,000. At the time, a Ford Model A was selling for $6,000. More great details LOADING>>>

It has a powerful engine, a double chain drive, a 60 inch tread (the width of the ruts in the roads), amazing 43 inch wheels/tires and an incredible 18 inch center clearance, for the time. Truly, the Hunt Special is the only "missing link" between the wagons of the wild west and modern desert off-road racing.

Clarence Hunt was killed before it was finished and Babcock succumbed to TB before he ever rode in the car. William Hunt, who lived just three blocks from his business in National City, died in 1974 at
the age of 97.

Baja California is now considered one of the toughest off-road racing areas in the world. The Hunt Special was designed for the most challenging driving conditions, survived them all and turns 100 this year, 2010. Unusual on this car is its false hood.

Since Emile Levassor of France had developed an auto with its engine placed vertically in front of the car driving the rear wheels by means of a shaft, European cars had engine compartments out in front of the passenger compartments. You will notice that the engine of this car is underneath the floorboards. Imitating the style of those European cars, the Hunt Special was designed with a hood although the space is virtually unused.

The Hunt Special was originally tested without a rear seat or top. It is currently unknown when these modifications were made.


The 1910 HUNT SPECIAL is in a private collection in San Diego California. For Special viewing details contact us at Baja Racing for details at the Editors Desk, Gary at

Thanks for the promo Doug...glad you're interested!
Hope you join us for the celebration of the 1914 re-race event. Open to the public, free of charge and hosted party by Baja Safari!
The "Arizona Classic '12, February 11, 2012", is also FREE & OPEN to the public. 

More info at OFF-ROAD LIVE! Peace

From Those Heady Days:

Baja Mexico 100 Off-Road Years SPECIALS on
Baja Racing

CELEBRATE Los Angeles 2010!

Celebrate Desert Off-Road Racing History In Los Angeles This November on!