Dune Buggy Gallery



From Rat to Rocket

Hi, my name is Mike Ragonese. I'm from Massachusetts, USA and heard about this web site from a fellow member of the Deserter Owners Group. I very recently finished my Deserter GS (mid-engine)/GT(body style) project that I completed in 1-1/2 years of what I call "triple-duty spare time". I built the mid-engine frame from scratch and covered the frame with high strength aluminum using structural panel adhesive and structural stainless steel rivets. I had a body that a friend gave to me to use as a buck for making my body out of aluminum. I had fabricated the whole rear end of the car before deciding the aluminum route was just way too much work and would take too long. His 'glass body was a rat but it was there, begging to be restored and a full restoration, top and bottom is what it took.Good thing I built the tub to original dimensions because when I hogged out the interior portion of the 'glass body I left a lip at the top edge that hooked over and attached to the aluminum interior I had already built and it fit pretty well.

The motor is 2332cc with a CB super race case, forged, nitrided crank, H-beam rods with Chevy journals, wedge-port heads, a turbo system blowing through dual 44IDF Webers, and so much more. I changed to a dry sump oiling system because the engine was sucking the sump dry of oil even with a 1-1/2 qt. extra sump added!! The engine dynoed at 270HP and is sooo nice because it will loaf along all day in fourth gear at 1800 rpm or absolutely scream to no end because with the turbo it just keeps pulling. I just timed 0-60 with a G-Tech meter (+/- 1/10 sec real time accuracy) and, even with my totally novice starts off the line, I got 4.6 seconds. The first times I really got on the throttle it was sensory overload! My next project is to build a roof and side windows for it so I can extend the New England driving season. However, I don't do things "simple" so I probably won't finish it for some time.

These pictures give you an idea of what the car is like but you really need to see pictures of what it took to do the opening side pods, the removable aluminum fuel tank, the Brazilian Rosewood dashboard, the massive amounts of bodywork, construction of the frame, and more.

Thank you,
Mike (Rags) Ragonese



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