Alex Dearborn

Deserter GS
I asked Ray Caldwell and his chassis builder, Bill Woodhead, to design a mid-engined layout for the existing Deserter Series One buggy body. We knew that the doorless "tub" of the Deserter was very light and pretty rigid, and we had this idea that a floor pan could be molded out of fiberglass, incorporating the seats in the same piece. And so it came together. A mild steel tubular frame was designed, and the "floorpan" was cast fiberglass with two impressions of my butt in it. These two pieces were bonded and riveted together to form a mid-engined frame more rigid than the company's Formula Ford chassis! Pickup points were incorporated at the front for VW beam axles, and in the engine bay to carry Corvair or 911 or VW engines. The best we knew about swing axle suspensions was used to locate the VW transaxle FV style, behind the engine bay.

The result was an 85" wheelbase Deserter GS, which weighed in at under 1300lbs with a Corvair amidships. The weight distribution was nearly 50/50 instead of 30/70 for a (rear-engined) Deserter GT or 10/90 for a Manx.

We called the mid-engined model "GS"; not after the Buick Gran Sport but after the ski race "Giant Slalom". I believed that the real market for the car was for autocross competition and street use, not the SCCA sportsracing classes then dominated by Can-Am cars. Indeed, Bill Goodale became SCCA National Solo Champion in a Deserter GS during the 70's.

We did make a few kits available to customers for the annual hill climb at Pike's Peak, and we built a GT-style GS/VW for me to do the 1971 event. After the event I ran this car with a Corvair engine in SCCA and at a few 1/4 mile ovals.

The 1969-72 Deserter GS cars and kits were made with the newer GT-type body... basically the same tub with slicker body design. All of the 1969-72 rear-engined Deserters had the GT body made for a VW swingaxle floorpan shortened to 84" wheelbase.

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