Cheap Racing! Vintage Formula Vee

What I’d love to know the most about this vintage Formula Vee race car is what is it? I thought based on the “Ray Caldwell” decal on the seat would mean it’s a Caldwell, but it doesn’t look to be the case. However, whatever it is, it’s for sale here on craigslist in Eleva, Wisconsin for $4,000.

Here’s a Caldwell D13, one of the more popular Formula Vee’s there are. Looking over a lot of pictures of Caldwells, every one seems to have the bulge down the center of the front bodywork. As you can see from the top picture, old number 66 doesn’t have it.

The rear bodywork looks considerably different as well. Any of you experts recognize it? The seller says the last time they drove it was at the Waumandee Hill Climb in Wisconsin about a year and a half ago. That’s really encouraging if true because it hasn’t been stationary for long and perhaps can be put back on the road quickly. Apart from the layer of dust, it doesn’t look like it’s been stagnant for that long.

Not a whole lot in here, but that’s not a bad thing. Remember, you’re talking about a racing class that uses a lot of Volkswagen Beetle components, so it’s pretty straightforward. It’s also nice to see things like mirrors, belts and things like that intact as well.

As you can see, Volkswagen was very proud of that racing connection, too. As a matter of fact, the car in this ad looks to have a very similar shape to the one for sale. Wouldn’t it be amazing if it were the same car? (no, I don’t think so either, but it would be cool) The nice thing is that you can race this car in all kinds of vintage racing events, autocrosses, hill climbs, track days, and all kinds of other events. I know this would be great fun to drive–want to go racing?

Fast Finds


  1. ulm210

    You can get a race ready car for around 7-8 grand. You can get a competitive race ready car for 10k. The amount of unknowns, based on the ad, with this car do not justify the asking price. However, if the seller can provide log books and car history it could be a bargain. I would recommend anyone looking at this as a jump off point for Formula Vee take an experienced FV racer/mechanic with them to view the car.

  2. Howard A Member

    This would be a freakin’ blast!!!

  3. LD

    It’s an Autodynamics, maybe a Mark III? Ray Caldwell was the owner & designer of Autodynamics FVs, the D13 was a later car he designed, radical design & very successful on track.
    This one looks like a lot of fun & there is a relatively large contingent of vintage Vees in the Midwest so it could be a lot of fun. But there are probably a lot of other cars available at not a lot more money. This one on offer has a trailer, a plus

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Thanks for the ID, LD!

  4. michael streuly

    Could be a lot of fun to run through the canyon here in socal. To the rock store and back.

  5. Bryan Cohn

    LD, you are correct, its an Autodynamics Mk II or IV FV. My first road race car was Autodynamics MkIV and I see l lots of similarities from the photos but the cars were so similar its impossible to know from these pics.

    Great handling car, room for tall/heavy drivers, easy to work on and bestof all, fun to drive!

    At $4000 you bought yourself not only a old FV but access to every vintage race in the USA and Canada plus all the SCCA, MWC, ICSSC etc, etc events. Hard to go wrong IMHO!

    • LD

      Bryan, my first race car was a Londergan FV, an AutoD copy from Michigan. Never ran much or well but got the hook in for how many race cars later. Quite a ride! Sold it to a chap in PA who lived pretty much in the same garage where the Vee would live. Always wondered what happened to that one

  6. John H

    I ran some autocrosses with my Corvairs in the early 1970s and one regular at events was a teacher from my high school with his Formula Vee. His car, driver combo was very competitive — not what anyone would expect of their high school German (of course!) teacher.

    Several of us helped him with the car from time to time and I now regret that I never got a chance to drive the car, even through the pits or parking area.

  7. Bill Wilkman

    I race a Formula Vee and would say that the price is a bit steep for this car. It will need a complete going over to make it race ready, including engine overhaul, brakes, new tires, etc. Fuel tank will need to be replaced with a fuel cell. Belts are no doubt out of date. Not enough photos to tell much about the car overall. Ad says it comes with a trailer but there is no photo of the trailer.


    As an ex sportscar driver (GT and Prototype) I would use the old saying “there are old drivers, and bold drivers, but there are no old, bold drivers”. I wouldn’t even drive that thing a lap. And Mr. Wilkman is correct in his assessment. Not much there to bother with is my opionion. The trailer, on the other hand, might be a buy….

  9. wesholliday

    Yes that is an Autodynamics Mark II Formula Vee, that was also my first race car.
    The inside photo shows a gas tank on the right side of driver. I installed a piece of sheet metal there on mine, because the fiberglass gas tank was sitting right beside me ! This is a later series, same tank location, has been upgraded to an aluminum tank. An old formula car is a good way to learn about under-steer and over steer.

  10. JagManBill

    will depend on your market – here in Colorado this would be maybe a bit high for an AutoD but not by much (with or without log book will determine that). We have a very active FVee group here in Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing ( of usually 20+ cars at an event. This would be a good starting point. Early AutoD’s don’t have a lot of “adjust-ability” so as Wes said it would be a great place to learn about under/over steer, how deep into the corners you can go, etc. The only problem you might have is height…not torso but leg length. You need to “try it on” first. Don’t worry too much about your head as the rollbar can go up as much as you need (2″ above your helmet in most places). That does however take $ as does a fuel cell ($700-$900) if it doesn’t have one.

  11. Dave Wright

    I love road racing cars, fielded a Formula Ford for several years in Europe just as the FV was coming out…….off course, the super V’s were blindingly fast, the V’s were fast too. Not as fast as out Fords I think……the thing I remember from talking to the guys is the engines designed to make an inexpensive open wheels racer were actually very expensive to make competitive. Very minor little Legal modifications would give you an edge and I had the impression the engines did not hold up as long as our Fords. Off course, we had Hewlands too that helped FV’s used flipped over VW transmissions and drum brakes……did things change later? Haven’t followed them in decades……but lightweight open wheel racing can’t be beaten for a crazy fun factor.

  12. Rick Rudd

    Hey guys…weighing in here as I drove a Caldwell D13 in SCCA club racing in the 1999-2001 time frame. I can tell you for certain that this is not a D13 as the D13 had very large lower suspension tubes through which the air was ducted from the nose and back to the engine and over the cooling fins on the cylinders. That said, perhaps there were iterations of the Caldwell before the D13…D12, D11, etc. Many of the cars were later modified to more effective cooling, but the lower tubes would still be in place and the frame on this one looks like 1.5-2.0″ tubing at best. The D12 lower tubes were maybe 4″ across.

  13. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    That was my purple D13 pictured … lots of CASC history and fast

  14. Eddie Ordonez

    i ended up buying that Vee. its an Autodynamics Mk. III (3) 1966. the car came with lots of log books. it was restored in 1993 for the Brundage Cup to commemorate the 25th birthday of the FV class. This car was driven at that event by Ray Caldwell himsef. i have a newspaper article showing him driving at the event and a signed log book that Ray signed for the event. once restored and race ready, whats the value of the car considering its history?

    • LD71

      If you got it at a good price, will be good value, but won’t make you rich. Needs to be gone through completely but prob a bunch of sweat equity with not a lot of cash outlay. Great fun to race, prob not a big market for re-sale LD71 :D

      Like 2
  15. Wes Holliday

    I started SCCA. racing with a Autodynamics Mk.1 Formula Vee.
    They are good basic race cars, and teach the driver the fundamentals of road racing. Every chang you make on suspension will be felt on the track.

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