Ray Caldwell created the company, Autodynamics, along with the help of friends Del Trott and Don MacSorely in 1962. American born Caldwell had studied at Harvard Business School and was passionate about racing. he spent much of his free time racing his 1932 Ford Roadster, and later competing in SCCA sanctioned races. He joined the Air Force in the early 1960s and spent some time in Europe. His free time was spent racing in European races and rallies with his Porsche Super 90.
The creation of the Formula Vee Series in the early 1960s provided an opportunity for many aspiring racers and builders. Customer cars were in high demand, and newly formed Autodynamics decided to gauge interest in a FV racer by running an ad displaying a drawing of their design. The response was tremendous, with over 1000 interested inquires. Autodynamics collected money from a few interested buyers and began work on the new machine. The first car was ready for the 1964 FV Season, and Caldwell proved the cars potential by driving it to the SCCA National Championship. The first series of Formula Vee racers were dubbed the D-1 MK1. They utilized a Volkswagen engine and gearbox with a trailing link front suspension and swing axles in the rear. The body was constructed from fiberglass and rested on a space frame chassis. In total, there were around 186 examples created.
The first few years of production were difficult for the company. As with most businesses, it is hard to turn a profit in the first few years. It was not until 1967 that the company began making a profit, and by this time it was producing over 60 cars a year.
For 1965 the D-1A and D-1B were created and were similar to their siblings, but brought mild improvements. The D-1A was smaller and lighter and had a re-worked rear-end. The D-1B incorporated the same improvements of the D-1A, but took it one step further by revising the rear-end once again, and making it even more simple and easier to get at the mechanical components.
In 1967 the D-4 was introduced and it was a new machine in many ways. It had a new chassis design and improvements to its suspension components. It was not only a more modern and competitive FV racer than its predecessors, it was also more expensive. The cars experienced some teething problems; at the Nassau Formula Vee race it finished ahead of the competition only to be disqualified later for having valve springs that were considered 'illegal'.
For customers that required more room in the cockpit, the D-4A model was available. It provided the room needed for larger customers, and 148 customers took advantage of this more-accommodating machine.
The D-4B saw production in 1969 and 1970. It featured a newly designed body and similar mechanical components to its predecessors. Around 65 examples were produced. This would be the final Formula Vee created by Autodynamics; the cars created after 1970 bore Caldwell's surname.
Caldwell created new Formula Vee racers for the 1971 season that introduced new designs and features not seen on FV's before. The designs would soon be imitated by other marquees. Caldwell also created cars for Formula Ford, Formula Super Vee, and even a couple of Pro-Series Cars.
Merlyn Racers The first Merlyn racer ever constructed was a front-engined Formula Junior car built by Selwyn Hayward. Hayward enlisted help from a few of his friends, John Lewis, Jerry Simon and Richard Neale. On the racing circuit the car proved its potential and soon a production version was offered for sale.
The prototype was constructed in 1960 with the second car, the MK2, coming available in 1961. The Cooper racing cars had proven to the world that the mid-engined placement was the superior configuration and soon many other marque's were following the design. Merlyn's first rear-engined car was the MK3 Formula Junior car. In 1962 the MK4 sports racing car was introduced and powered by a Ford 1100cc engine. The design and technology continued to advance and by 1967 Merlyn had created the MK10 Formula 3 and Formula Libre car. The design of this car was used in creating the Formula Ford MK11.
Merlyn had a rich racing history but they are most remembered for their Formula Ford cars. They were one of the earliest producers of racers for this series and soon they were outselling their competition. Tim Schenken navigated an MK11 to many racing successes which helped boost sales for the small and capable car.
The MK11A brought with it many enhancements and refinements.
Merlyn also created Formula Atlantic cars, Formula 3 and track midgets. Jim Russell purchased a number of the Series 17, 20 and 24 racers for his racing schools located in the US and the UK.
In 1979, due to a number of circumstances, Merlyn ceased production of racers. Their final car was the MK31. CRD Tool and Engineering was later formed with most of the employees moving over to the new business. By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2008
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