|1971 (2006 rebuild) Dearborn Automobile Co. / Autodynamics
Mid-Engine Deserter GS/GT Sports Car, Serial #710320
1560 lbs. / 270+ hp
Presented here to stimulate the senses of
serious auto enthusiasts.
Please Note: A quick look at this page will not let you understand
what this car is all about. Dive into the details and you will see that
this is a serious, well built and unique car.
Built in 2006 by Mike Ragonese
|The bare frame weighed 145 lbs. It was widened in the front to grab the front end further out at the ends of the torsion tubes
to increase the stiffness of the front end especially about the central axis. The overall torsional rigidity of the car was greatly
increased by bonding high strength aluminum to the frame using structural adhesive combined with hundreds of structural
stainless steel rivets, forming an aerodynamic, rigid, semi-monocoque structural chassis. Most of the aluminum-to-aluminum
joints were done with aircraft style hammered hard rivets. The body was bonded and riveted to the chassis. The result is a
very tight car.
|FIT and FINISH
| IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2007
1) Fabricated convertible Sunbrella top with stainless steel tubular
support framework, hinged/opening/removable side doors/windows and
removable rear window.
2) Removed 1-1/2 quart oil sump from bottom of engine and changed
the oil pump to a 4-gear dry sump pump and added an aluminum oil tank.
System now uses 7-1/2 quarts of oil.
3) Larger oil pump necessitated changing the crankshaft pulley to a 6”
pulley with rear spacers plus machining of the back of the pulley to clear
the pump. Changed the alternator pulley to a smaller diameter Porsche
356 pulley to bring the engine cooling fan and alternator back up to speed.
4) Pulled engine and transaxle to change the 3rd and 4th gear sets to
taller gearing to provide better upper end performance.
5) Fabricated various custom aluminum exhaust pipe heat shields.
6) Replaced plastic seat belt grommets with custom machined
7) Changed 3” single exhaust pipe from outlet of turbo to a 3” into four 1-
5/8” center/rear mounted pipes.
8) Inverted oil cooler core to put fan on bottom to increase the air flow
into the oil cooler box.
9) Deleted engine lid front latches and added four hood pins to more
securely hold down the engine lid
10) Added VDO quartz clock.
| IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2008
1) The seats were removed and widened 1” for better driver/passenger fit. Layers of memory foam
were added to improve comfort, lumbar support, and thigh support.
2) Two 15” long, finned, extruded aluminum transmission oil coolers were added and plumbed with
braided lines and aluminum fittings. The transmission oil (now with two additional quarts) is circulated
through the transmission and coolers by a Tilton pump controlled by a thermostatic switch where the oil
is drawn from the transmission. A Trans. Temp gauge was added to the dash with an LED indicator
light to show when the pump is running.
3) A cable-actuated remote control to open/close the dry sump oil tank ball valve was added to the
interior of the car to prevent drain-back of the oil into the engine case when the car is not run for a while.
A piezo alarm, mounted next to the open/close-knob is attached to the cable and sounds until the valve
4) The oil tank was wrapped with a 120V oil preheat wrap to bring the oil up to temperature if desired
before running in colder weather.
5) The rear brakes master cylinder was changed from a 5/8” bore cylinder to a ¾” bore cylinder for
improved front/rear brake balance. The entire brake and clutch systems were pressure bled/flushed
with new fluid.
6) A VW tow bar was modified to fit the car and a wiring harness was tapped into the electrical system
for rear lighting control by plugging into any standard towing connector so the car can be flat-towed
whenever desired or necessary. The GS end of the harness plugs into a covered connector mounted at
the front of the car.
7) Additional custom heat shields and shielding wraps were added to some components that were
seeing a lot of engine exhaust heat.
| IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2009 AND BEYOND
1) Fabricated custom aluminum front brake backing plates with custom fiberglass brake cooling ducts.
2) Modified the Sparco racing seats to be more old-school style. Removed the high backs, trimmed down the side bolsters and then rebuilt the rolled edges. Re-worked the foam
cushioning and re-upholstered them with “glazed antique” black cowhide with tuck-and-roll center panels.
3) Shortened rear view mirror-stem by1-1/4” to improve forward visibility.
4) Fabricated custom chrome-moly front tow rings.
5) Changed to MSD Billet Distributor with customizable advanced curve.
6) Changed coil to MSD High-Vibration-Resistant 45,000 volt coil.
7) Changed spark plug wires to MSD 8.5mm Super Conductor Posi-Lock Wires. Installed new sparkplugs with .040 gaps.
8) Added MSD 15 Degree Base Timing Control Unit with adjustment knob near shifter.
9) Changed fan shroud to one without the heater duct outlets and changed the color from black to red. Modified the shroud to accept original style thermostat controlled “shutter
boxes” with original style bellows-type thermostat. Modified thermostat bracket to clear shift rod.
10) Added modified portions of Super-Cooling-Tins under the front and rear edges of the main/top cylinder cooling tins to direct cooling air down under the heads and cylinders.
11) Relocated the engine oil filter for easier and quicker access for filter changes.
12) Deleted oil dipstick. Not needed with dry-sump system.
13) Reworked and renewed heat insulation materials as needed.
14) Replaced plastic oil-fill cap with machined metal cap painted with wrinkle-red coating.
15) Painted carburetor pressure-hats with wrinkle-red coating.
16) Installed LED flexible gooseneck map light.
17) Installed custom muffler inserts in the four pipes to tone down the muffler-less system. Held by cotter-pins, they’re removable.
|ENGINE; Built by award winning engine builder Pat
Downs of CB Performance, it is a 2332cc VW Type-1 air-
cooled horizontally opposed four cylinder, dynoed at
270 HP at 10 psi of boost, now running 12 psi of boost
(Capable of approx 330 HP at 15 psi but not on pump
fuel). Aluminum Super Race Case. 84mm stroke, 2”
Chevy journal nitrided crankshaft with 5.5”chromoly H-
beam race rods with ARP2000 bolts. 94mm Forged
Mahle pistons and cylinders. Teflon wrist pin buttons.
CNC ported Wedge Port heads with dual springs on
44mm x 37.5mm stainless valves with 7 degree locks
and chromoly retainers. .040x94 mm copper head
gaskets. 1.1:1 ratio rockers with swivel feet adjusters
and chromoly shafts. T04 turbo blowing through dual
turbo-modified Weber 44IDF carburetors. CB Perf.
wastegate. Turbosmart blow-off valve. CB Perf. #2242
camshaft with 252 duration @.050, .390 lift @ cam.
Chromoly straight cut cam gears. Chromoly 10mm
head studs. Chromoly flywheel gland nut. Lightweight
racing lifters. 7.5 qt.dry sump oil system. Chromoly
12.5 lb. Flywheel. Stage 3 Kennedy pressure plate with
Daycon 200mm Super Disc. 36HP fan shroud with
doghouse cooler and complete factory thermostat and
flapper system. Additional external fan cooled cooler.
MSD magnetic pickup billet distributor, MSD Blaster coil
and 8.5mm plug/coil wires. 6” Billet sand-seal crank
pulley machined to clear dry-sump pump. Smaller
Porsche 356 alternator pulley to bring the alternator and
cooling fan back to normal operating speeds. A
considerable amount of effort and money was spent on
heat isolation, control and shielding.
|"Hearing this motor scream above 6,000 rpm right
behind you, as it thrusts the car through the gears to
60mph in 4.6 seconds, on its way up to 125mph with
the current gearing, is something that will really get
your heart pumping. To have the same motor pull
strong while cruising back roads comfortably
all day long at 2200rpm is equally amazing."
|Kit Car Builder covered the
40th Anniversary of
Dearborn Auto and the
Deserter in 2007. The car
won 1st place at that show.
|With Alex Dearborn who
was the founder of
Dearborn Auto and creator
of the Deserter. Alex also
raced the Deserter.
|With Reeves Callaway
who was the sales
manager at Dearborn auto.
Reeves also raced
| INTERESTING and IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
Because this is a one-off version of a car you perhaps have never seen before, you should read and
understand all of the information contained on this web page to get a good grasp of the serious amounts of
engineering, innovation, time and money that were invested to build this car. Then you will appreciate its
value. The car is lightweight, powerful, well balanced and really fun to drive. The attention to build quality and
the many serious and unique features and construction methods are evident upon close inspection. Some of
the primary objectives from the beginning were light weight, power, handling, durability and longevity.
The mid-engine configuration, turbo system blowing through dual modified 44mm Weber carburetors,
dry-sump oil system, etc. make for a somewhat more complex car that deserves an owner (or owner's
mechanic) with a higher (Porsche level) degree of mechanical knowledge and appreciation.
The car is driven whenever possible (with about 14,000 miles on it now) and it has been very well sorted out.
Passengers frequently comment about how tight the car sounds and feels. The car has always been given
proper respect, care and maintenance. It is kept in a climate controlled garage and driven only on clean roads
in dry weather. To preserve the car as best as is possible, water has never been used to clean the car.
Cleaning has always been done by hand using micro-fiber rags with appropriate cleaners.
The only time this car was launched hard was to get the 0-60mph times. With the current gearing, it tops out
around 125mph. With your rear end only several inches from the ground and the motor screaming about a foot
from your head, 125mph is quite an experience. As it is only driven by the owner/builder it is always driven
properly and every minute the car runs it is being analyzed to see if it can be improved.
The engine loves to run between 2,500 and 5,000 rpm with the best max. shift-point at 6500 rpm (the motor will
keep pulling beyond that because of the turbo). Good amounts of torque permit the car to lug around in fourth
gear at 1,500-2,000 rpm without a problem. The motor is both very flexible and strong which is what makes it
amazing. It is run with Mobil One V-Twin 20W-50 Synthetic Cycle Oil which is designed for hot-running
air-cooled motors. It contains high levels of ZDDP for better wear resistance. Much experimentation has
shown this oil to be best in this motor for heat control and resistance to breakdown.
The seats are very comfortable. I am 6 ft. tall, 205 lbs, with size 13 feet and I fit comfortably. Much larger
drivers may not fit well. Getting in and out of the car with the roof on is a challenge that requires flexibility. The
seats tilt forward or come out by removing two pins but since the cockpit is small, they are not adjustable fore
and aft. The gas pedal is adjustable fore and aft about 3 inches. There is storage in the front of the tilt nose
and in both weather-sealed opening side pods. Two 3" fans in the engine bay can be used to push engine
compartment heat into the cockpit for extending the driving season.
The amount of attention this car gets surpasses how it was in the Cobra replica I built before this car. Nobody
knows what it is but everyone loves it. It has won First Place at many car shows, including Best Of Show and
Best Engine. The car is located, titled, registered and insured in Massachusetts. Call or e-mail Mike Ragonese
for additional information or photos or if you have an interest in buying the car, at 508-326-4491 or
firstname.lastname@example.org There are many more small details that are not shown in the pictures here.
Thanks, Mike R.
Note that although many of the pictures shown are current, not all of the pictures represent the car exactly as it sits today as many changes/improvements were made
every year as noted. Most notably would be the seats that are leather now as shown in some of the pictures, the engine sheet metal is now trimmed in red with wrinkle red
on the carburetor pressure hats, recently added tinted plexiglass sun visors, etc.
OWNER/BUILDER; Mike Ragonese, MA, USA, 508-326-4491, email@example.com
BUILD TIME; 1-1/2 years. Completed July, 2006
BODY; The body is an original that was in very rough shape. It was originally ordered to be
built thin because it was raced and not registered for the street. It required huge amounts
of re-work. I ground the entire underside clean, removing the fiberglass that was sprayed
dry and also puddles of excess resin from the chopper gun. Then the bottom was re-
covered with new layers of hand-laid fiberglass matte with the resin tinted black. On the
top I ground off all old paint, putty, bondo and original gel-coat down to the raw fiberglass. I
cut, pulled, patched, sectioned, and then re-covered the entire surface with new layers of
hand-laid fiberglass matte. I then covered and smoothed the entire body with an epoxy
resin/fairing compound mix, re-defining the body lines and doing a lot of sanding and then
finishing putty and more sanding, eventually coating with basecoat/clearcoat Ferrari
Rosso Corsa Red paint. The original fiberglass interior tub/liner was deleted. The front
spoiler lip is aluminum with rolled edges.
CHASSIS; Built from 1-½“ square and round tubing, it replicates the original from the roll
bar back but the front was improved by adding additional top tubes and widening the
frame to grab the torsion tubes of the front end out by the shock towers rather than at the
center. A cross bar was added to the roll bar for additional strength and seat belt
attachment. The desired chassis strength was obtained by skinning the frame with high
strength aluminum sheets attached with structural adhesive and hundreds of structural
stainless steel rivets and hammered aluminum hard rivets forming a true semi-
monocoque chassis. The center tunnel, with removable top, is structural and contains all
plumbing, electrical, and cable systems that run from front to rear.
INTERIOR; Custom modified Sparco fiberglass-shell racing seats covered with Glazed
Antique Black supple leather, ¼” thick Brazilian Rosewood dash face and tunnel top
accent, black ostrich hide (vinyl) upper dash top, glove box with hood latch release, interior
lights in footwells, VDO and ISS Pro instrumentation, Momo leather covered steering
wheel, pill-controlled shift light, front/rear brake-bias adjustment knob, pull-cable activated
Halon fire suppression system, MSD boost-responsive timing control and base timing
control knobs on console, remote cable-controlled anti-drain-back oil tank valve, Simpson
racing seat belts, no carpet etc. to keep weight to a minimum, removable cockpit/engine
FRONT SUSPENSION/STEERING; VW Type-1 ball joint height-adjustable front end
assembly with torsion leaves, Bilstein gas shocks, 2-½” dropped spindles, Saco
centerload rack and pinion billet aluminum steering box with equal length aluminum tie
rods with outer ends moved to the bottoms of the steering arms to minimize bump-steer,
hydraulic steering stabilizer. Borgeson stainless steel steering shaft and u-joints attached
to shortened late model VW steering column head.
REAR SUSPENSION; Transaxle swing-axles are connected to adjustable custom radius
arms. Coilover Carrera shocks with 10”, 300 lb., 2-1/4” springs support the car. Travel
limiting straps prevent full drop of the axles.
BRAKES/CLUTCH; CNC hydraulic brake and clutch pedal assemblies with dual
braking cylinders, 2 lb. residual pressure valves, brake pedal front/rear bias adjustment
knob on dash, stainless steel brake and clutch lines, 4-wheel disc brakes with drilled
rotors, console emergency brake, Hurst line-lock/roll control solenoid for front brakes
with switch on shifter, custom aluminum front brake backing plates with integral
epoxy/fiberglass-cloth cooling ducts.
TIRES/WHEELS; Yokohama AVS ES 100 tires on American Racing Torq-Thrust
aluminum wheels with 5 x 4.75“ bolt pattern. 195/50 VR15 on 15 x 6 wheels on the front
and 245/50 WR16 on 16 x8 wheels on the back.
ENGINE; Listed above.
TRANSMISSION; Rancho built Pro-Mid Type 1 with 3.88 R&P, 3.10 / 1.93 / 1.21 / .82
gears, Super Diff, HD side covers, Gusseted case, Sway-Away axles, welded synchro
hubs, HD clutch cross shaft, powder coated case, twin extruded aluminum finned Derale
15” transmission oil coolers (2 qts. oil added to capacity) with transmission oil circulated
by Tilton pump tied to thermal switch on bottom of transmission. Pump indicator light
over Trans. Temp gauge. Solid mounts at bell-housing, tail cone and at mid-case joint
plus at the front of the engine.
FUEL SYSTEM; Custom removable aluminum fuel tank (approx. 11 gallons) with quick-
disconnect feed and return line fittings, rotary electric fuel pump, aluminum-body
Canton/Mecca 1-micron fuel filter assembly, turbo-boost controlled fuel pressure
regulator with return line.
LUBRICATION SYSTEM; Seven qt. aluminum oil tank feeding dry sump oil pump
intake. Outlet feeds to remote full flow oil filter, through (or back from) remote oil
thermostat, to Derale 14-pass fan-cooled oil cooler, back to tank. All braided stainless
lines and anodized aluminum AN fittings.
OTHER SPECS; Car weighs 1560 lbs. Split 41.5% Front / 58.5% Rear. Car was
clocked electronically and did 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds with an amateur driver. A
considerable amount of effort and money was spent on heat control/shielding. To extend
the Fall driving season out to the first snowfall, a custom Sunbrella top was constructed
utilizing a stainless steel small diameter tubular framework, removable rear window and
removable side windows/doors. Two 3-speed 3” fans pull heat from the engine bay into
the cockpit and can be reversed in the Summer to blow cool air into the engine bay.
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