This One’s A Real One! Caldwell D13 Formula Vee

Given our recent post on an unknown make Formula Vee that Barn Finds reader LD71 identified as an Autodynamics Formula Vee as opposed to the Caldwell I thought it might have been, it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m writing about a real Caldwell D13 barn find that LD71 sent in to us! It’s for sale here on craigslist and is located in Otis, Massachusetts. This one’s a little less expensive at an asking price of $3,500 ($3,000 if you read the ad text), but it does look like it’s been a while since it’s been on the track. Thanks, LD, for this great find!

As with all Vee’s, this car features a lot of Beetle parts. I had to show you this view because this has to be one of the coolest looking exhaust systems ever! Unfortunately, the coating of surface rust has me wondering just how damp this barn was. I’m hoping this is just surface rust, but it’s on almost everything. You’ll have to strip the car completely down and refurbish it to make sure you’re safe before heading out onto the track.

There’s some fiberglass work to do as well–you can see a crack near the left front suspension opening. If you’re interested in how these cool cars were marketed when they were new, someone has posted a super PDF of the 1973 Autodynamics catalog here. At that time, they billed themselves as “America’s Largest Race Car Manufacturer.”

Okay, one more picture of that exhaust system. I love the homemade ram-air cooling ducts as well. If this post has helped make you enthusiastic about Formula Vees but you want a nicer car, I did find this one for sale on It’s over twice the price, but I doubt that it would need as much refurbishment either. So here’s my question for you today. Would you rather have a Formula Vee or a regular (non oval window, non split window) Beetle (comparable condition for both) in your garage. Me, I’d take the Vee!

Fast Finds


  1. John T

    I would much rather have a regular good old fashioned roadworthy VW Beetle, preferably from the early 70’s.
    I sure could use one for a daily driver.

  2. Rob Rose

    Love the 6 volt bugs myself.

  3. JagManBill

    Weeelll….I gotta say….


    I have 3 Zink Vee’s, a Zink VSR and 4 Bugs (ok…2 of the Bugs are my wife’s). This ones gonna need a lot of work. Correct body for starters. While I know they did come this way early on, I have actually never seen a Z-bar D-13 so a Zero-roll rear suspension is a must on these cars. Undoubtedly going to need a fuel cell, freshen the engine, gearbox, brake system, belts and tires. So, by the time this car hits the track in anger, your going to have close to another $5k in it minimum. But the plus side is, your still less than $10k in a front running vintage racer. Do that with a FFord, Spriget of other car for the money. Ain’t gonna happen.
    This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you go racin…

  4. Bob C

    I don’t think I see any visual evidence that this is a D13. Bodywork is totally wrong, rear suspension trailing arms aren’t right. Roll-bar, maybe.

    Jagman Bill – would like to see pics of your Zink VSR. I have a Zink (Z4, I think), but was built for Alfa power.

    Like 2
    • JagManBill

      I would like to see your 4 as well. I had the last Z4 built (Z4 Daytona – ex Ralph Miller car) originally built with FWA power and last powered by a Hillborn- injected Ford V4 but lost it in a house fire in 08. Miller was killed in the car at Lake Garnett 09/1972.
      Z8 and Z4 were designed to use the exact same body (looks VERY similar to a LaBoa Mk3 body). My Z-8 was turned into an auto-crosser in the early 80’s – hope to have it back to road racer someday, Z4 on right was a rebody by Miller around 70 or 71 (kinda shrunk Lotus 70 style). Anyone know if we can PM or just communicate off site? (

      sorry for the hijack

  5. Karl Vacek

    That previously-posted Autodynamics Formula Vee WAS a Caldwell. Same thing – Ray Caldwell founded Autodynamics and they made the cars that carried the Caldwell name.

    • John McKnight

      The yellow vee is a McKnight FV manufactured in San Diego.

  6. D. King


  7. LD

    Gotta agree I never saw a D13 with a z-bar rather than zero roll rear suspension I always thought zero-roll was integral to the design.
    Too bad we can’t see the frame rails to see if this is a true d13 but the body looks right to me.
    To answer the question of the day I’d take an FV over a bug myself-recapture my youth!

  8. Pete

    Here is the same manufacturer car I found in New Mexico. I thought it was a one off. Apparently that was wrong. It seemed to me that the 4″x4″ square tube was too heavy for a 1200cc motor. None of the vintage vee guys in the NW recognize it.

  9. Bryan Cohn

    Interesting car. The roll hoop is correct for a D-13, however the body had been modified to expose it as normally the body enclosed the hoops and there was a triangle “port” window between the main hoop and forward hoop.

    Original D-13’s DID have two shocks and a Z-bar or anti-droop links. If you look in the catalog (follow the link, its WAY cool!) you can clearly see the cars had two shocks and a droop limiting link on either side. Page 5 of the catalog reviews the car and its specs/details.

    Zero Roll single shock FV suspension didn’t come out in FV till the mid ’70’s at the earliest. I found numerous photos of D-13’s with two rear shocks and either a Z-Bar or droop limiting links. I also found photos of D-13’s with straight trailing arms instead of the signature curved ones we all think of that were a D-13 trademark.

    The nose is all wrong on this car though, but who knows since the body is pretty cut up.

    One thing to remember, the D-13, like the Lynx B/C/D was basically the same car built over a long, long time, a good 15 years or more for both. To keep the D-13 current they made a D-13S, a narrow body version. Looked the same just had squared off sides, trying to make it narrower and a bit slicker through the air I suppose.

    Fun stuff gang!

    I’d pick the D-13 or the Autodynamics from the other day over a Beetle street car any day.

    The mystery FV posted by Pete is most likely a Crusader FV from the late 60’s-early 70’s. I owned one briefly in the late 80’s.

  10. Dan Almashy

    Brings back old memories. I don’t know anything about the cars but will add that my neighbor here in Danville Va. Chuck Cunningham, used to have one he raced at VIR and some other tracks before I moved in next to him here in 74. It was a red colored Formula V car. After I moved here we had a Corvette club that used to have some auto cross things a couple times a year, we took that car and ran it, he , me and also my wife in the ladies class…he would always get fastest time, me being a dummy got a second and third a couple times, never drove anything like it before. My wife would beat the ladies…they started grumbling about it and we stopped going to them. Corvette guys can be so up tight some times..LOL well I’ve owned 3 of them over the years and I don’t remember being that way so maybe it was just a couple who were butthurt…but it was a lot of fun back in 74 and 75. It got sold to a guy in North Carolina and he lost track of it through the years. I wish I had a picture.

  11. Big Ed

    Ha ha, I’d chose a late 60’s Beetle with a “California rake” (chopped stance). Love that big oil cooler on the Vee.
    Watched Formula Vee growing up but now hooked on Formula 1. Go Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes!
    This picture is similar to the bug my wife drove when we met. My bug was a 69

  12. LD

    I remember several guys in New England who cut larger ‘side windows’ in the upper body of D13s—-to improve visibility we thought BITD
    Agree the nose is all wrong but I do remember one d13 that cut holes in the nose to match the main side rails–they pushed air through the chassis ducted to the motor to keep everything cool-thought this car might have an old school-style nose to allow the same?

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