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Web site by - Bob Elliott - (Last Update, 11/16/19)
Copyright 2005-2009- Deserter Owners Group - All rights reserved No part of this website may be reproduced
Plase Note: This is the totally and completely un-official history based on what is now 40+ years of ownership
and following of this little car from Marbelhead, MA. Just a pile of what I've heard, found and seen over the
years as an owner or fan. - Bob Elliott - 2002-2018
The Early Days (1967-69)
Ray Caldwell's Autodynamic's Corp. was already a well established racing company when in 1967 they got into the dune buggy business with Alex Dearborn
and introduced the Series 1 Deserter. With Alex running the buggy end of the business the Series 1 dune buggy sold briskly for three years and helped
support the Autodynamic's racing effort. While the basic shape of the Deserter S1 can be traced back to the great
Bruce Meyers and his Meyers Manx, many subtle differences were incorporated into the original Deserter buggy's and described on the S1 Page of this site.
Credit for the basic shape or design of the later, Deserter GT must go to the designer Mel Keys who created the first swoopy shaped buggy or Bounty
Hunter shape. Mel's original design was modified by his partner Brian Dries who later adapted the concept for market and the Bounty Hunter was born. The
result was an impressive and very unique car with demand for this body resulting in the founding of Glass Enterprises of Burbank California by Dries. The
number of Bounty Hunter bodies produced is unknown to me, but the company folded in 1971, along with most other buggy manufacturers.
The Hay Days (1969-1972)
These times are pretty well covered in Alex Dearborn's - The Deserter Book - but no longer available. But to summarize a bit and add some distinction
between the Bounty Hunter vs. Deserter GT or even the Marauder GT's, here's a bit to go on. Somewhere around 1969 the Autodynamics Deserter S1 had
a face-lift with the Bounty Hunter front end grafted to the familiar Deserter 84-inch wheelbase. The Deserter GT buggy as it was called was not an exact copy
of the Bounty Hunter, but a fully licensed and modified version. The resulting GT met the Massachusetts DMV regulations of the time and the race car
culture of the folks at Autodynamics. Using the inner tub of the Series 1 Deserter, with the nose and lines of the Bounty Hunter, but s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g them
after the windshield posts in the seat area, to some actually improved on the original looks of the Bounty Hunter!
Other modifications or changes from the Bounty Hunter included a larger (extended) rear apron that did a pretty good job of covering more of the VW engine
and most of the Corvair engine helped keep the Massachusetts DMV and local police happy. In addition, a newer version of windshield posts were
developed with a flat flange that served as a stop for the doors of the soft and hard tops.
Autodynamic's was a pretty good size operation at the time and in addition to the very successful race car business, they offered many options specific to the
GT that really set them apart from the average buggy suppliers. It was easy to personalize your car and build anything from a basic street car, to an off-road
or a real track racer using the mid-engine GS chassis kit right out of the Autodynamic's catalog.
The documented (Best Guess) total production quantities of Deserters made by either Autodynamics and/or Dearborn are as follows.
Total Deserter S1 or Mk1 Manx clone bodies = estimated at 802.
Total Deserter GT or Mk2 bodies = estimated at 410.
Total Deserter GS chassis kits = estimated at 138.
* Production numbers as quoted in "the dynamics of autodynamics" article by David Kaplan in Dec72 SCCA Sports Car magazine.
The Lazy Days (1972-1988)
The Dune Buggy fad fell flat enough for a company the size of Autodynamic's to sell off all of the molds to the Deserter GT/GS cars. In the States, the
original molds provided small scale production into the mid to late 80's by a man by the name of Gary Card on the GT/GS cars. In Europe, Basle, Germany
had a licensed manufacturer and built molds from parts shipped to them. In all, the actual quantities produced by either are totally unknown by me, but
believed to be relatively small.
The S1 (Manx clone) molds were probably just lost or destroyed along the way. I've never seen or heard anything of them. Down in New Jersey, an
ex-Autodynamic's employee made full wheelbase (stretched) versions of the S1 Manx body and called it a Jackal . The idea of no cutting and no welding
required and a body that you could simply bolt to your chassis was appealing to some. It did nothing for the overall looks of the original lines Bruce Meyers
had artfully created in his first Manx buggy design.
I believe this is also the time frame that the Marauder GT came on the scene. To the best of my knowledge and as confirmed by original photos of the
original Marauder buck and sales data sheets, it was a Deserter GT modified with added front winglets and possibly other changes? So, it shares the
traditional 84 in wheelbase of the Deserter GT minus the front emblem recess but the rest appears the same to my eyes. I have never seen one of these in
person and believe that there are probably less than ten copies ever made.
The Dark Days (1988-2002)
From the late 80's until the year 2002, all of the GT/GS molding and construction jigs sat unused and outdoors in the next owners hands, Bill Bramley of
Ohio. For a dozen plus years, they sat waiting for the new owner to find the time and energy to put them to use. Well, like many projects and good
intentions, it never happened. The real credit to Bill is the fact that they were not destroyed (OK a little weather damaged) but every fiberglass mold piece,
the windshield post molds and all of the GS chassis jigs stayed together :-) and that is great news!
The Recent Days (2002-?)
Although I've provided support to the Deserter Buggy hobby for more than 20 years and provided fiberglass replacement parts and other small pieces that
filled an enthusiastic Deserter fan base on a limited level. It was never a full time thing for me and I never provided the complete package. I simply decided
the world did not need another set of molds and hoped that the originals might come back into play once again. Sadly, as of 2019, this still has not
happened and for that I am sorry for the hobby.
Back in 2002 all of the GT/GT molds and fixtures once again changed hands and moved to Southern California with David Barnes with the hope to restore
them. Set backs and problems limited production to three bodies. If it was easy everyone would do it, but legal issues, scarcity of original VW pans and
registration issues have changed the playing field making it much more difficult than it was back in the 60's.
With the strong interest in the Deserter GT and GS cars, I don't think the story dies here but we have to wait to see what the future holds.
The Deserter Owners Group
A Brief History on Deserters