the Dune Buggy Archives

Deserter Series 1

Alex Dearborne writes" Our original '67 Deserter dune buggy was visually a shameless clone of Bruce Meyers' ingenius design, the Manx. In order to make the car more roadworthy, however, we extended the body to fit on a VW pan shortened to 84" wheelbase, instead of the then-customary 80". This in turn enabled us to hang a little more horsepower off the back end. In '68, we built a Deserter Series One with a 1600 Porsche Super in. While the Deserter line was my concept, the actual protoypes and production parts were made next door to Dearborn Automobile Company(in Marblehead) at Autodynamics, then the largest manufacturer of racing cars in the country. Company products included the SCCA National Championship Caldwell Formula Vees, the D9 Formula Fords (by 1970, the car to beat in SCCA) and D10 Formula SuperVees. In addition, Ray Caldwell had designed a Formula 5000 car for Brett Lunger, and was working on a new Can Am car for Sam Posey. The company had a dyno shop, chassis fabricating facilities, a fiberglass shop, and engineers Ray Caldwell and Fred Jackson. All of us knew that we could build a Corvair-powered rear-engined Deserter with readily available parts, but we also knew that it wouldn't handle well enough to be competitive." OK, certainly Autodynamics was not the only one to do this, but they did it anyway. Everyone could not be a Manx dealer, so they jumped on the bandwagon and came up with a version of thier own. Changes from the typical dune buggy of the day included: - using the normal VW pan or chassis, but with an extended 84 inch wheelbase improved the ride and handling. - more rear wheel coverage and a longer rear apron that gave improved engine coverage for the MA DMV or the Regisrty as it's called here. - and a larger box surrounded the carburetor area and allowed for and aftermarket carb without having to cut that nice new fiberglass body. - A molded, tuck under fiberglass dash provided a solid mount for steering and guages. Nothing radical, but small changes that might have kept the copyright police away at the time? And satisfy the northeast motor vehicle laws. Autodynamics had good capacity, a good product and offered a very complete line of accessories. Overall, a pretty nice package that differentiated this all-weather buggy from those without complete coverage. In 1969, his body was also used for the basis of the new exciting mid-engined GS chassis kit from Autodynamics. To date, only 5 GS cars have been located with the S-1 body. Total production of Autodynamics Series 1 bodies has been estimated at 300 pieces, the majority home builts. I believe there are more S-1's to be identified out there, but to many, it's hard to seperate them from being called a Manx or just simply a dune buggy.

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