Deserter Series One
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 the rear, and, after a quick review of the SCCA rule book, went to Lime Rock to mix it up with the sports cars. (Therein lies another story.)
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.