Bruce Meyers in a genuine Meyers Manx.
Bruce F. Meyers individually (prototype)|
B. F. Meyers & Co. (main production)
Meyers Manx, Inc. (modern revival)
1964–65 (prototype, 12 built)|
1965–1971 (main, ~6,000 built)
Newport Beach, California (prototype)|
Fountain Valley, California (main)
Valley Center, California (revival)
|Body and chassis|
1.2L VW H4, 1.3L VW H4,|
1.5L VW H4, 1.6L H4
|Transmission||4-speed manual transaxle, 2-wheel drive|
The Meyers Manx dune buggy is a small recreationally-oriented automobile, designed initially for desert racing by Californian engineer, artist, boat builder and surfer Bruce F. Meyers. It was produced by his Fountain Valley, California company, B. F. Meyers & Co. from 1964 to 1971, in the form of car kits applied to shortened chassis of Volkswagen Beetles.:120 The car line dominated dune racing in its time, breaking records immediately, and was eventually also released in street-oriented models, until the company's demise due to tax problems after Meyers's departure.:118–123 New vehicles inspired by the original Manx buggy have been produced by Meyers's re-founded operation, Meyers Manx, Inc., since 2000. The name and cat logo of the brand derives from the Manx cat, by virtue of the tailless breed's and the shortened vehicle's truncated "stubbiness".:118
Drawing on his experience in sailboat construction, Meyers personally modeled and built his first dune buggy, "Old Red", a shortened VW Beetle with a monocoque, fiberglass shell and an IRS trailing arm suspension, in late 1963 to May 1964 in his garage in Newport Beach, California. The first known street-legal fiberglass dune buggy, it featured a unibody shell that fused body, fenders and frame, retaining just the engine, transmission and other mechanicals of the VW. The use of compound curves throughout provided great rigidity.:118 The fenders were arched high, to make room for large, knobby dirt-racing wheels.:118–19
The "Manx" name for the shortened, taller-wheeled, more maneuverable VW Beetle mods refers to and derives from the comparably stubby Manx cat breed,:118 colloquially called "stubbins"; they are short-spined and stub-tailed-to-tailless, long-legged, and known for their turning ability while chasing. The Meyers Manx logo prominently features a Manx cat.:119 The tailless cat in the logo, as featured on the hood ornament, is stylized after a passant heraldic lion, its right forepaw brandishing a sword. The name also suggests racing fitness, as the already globally renowned, British-manufactured Norton Manx motorcycle dominated the Isle of Man TT, Manx Grand Prix and other Isle of Man-based (i.e. Manx) international races from the 1940s to the early 1970s. (The Meyers Manx itself, despite its name, has no direct connection to the Isle of Man.)
Meyers produced kits later in 1964 and into 1965, marketed under the name Meyers Manx.:118 Although this early design was critically acclaimed, even featured on the April 1967 cover of Car & Driver magazine, and drew much attention, it proved too expensive to be profitable; ultimately only 12 kits of the monocoque Manx were produced. Nevertheless, Meyers and a friend (both amateur racers) broke by over four hours the Ensenada – La Paz run's record of 39 hours, until then held by a pro racer.:118 According to James Hale, compiler of the Dune Buggy Handbook, this feat ushered in an era of Meyers Manx "domination in off-road events ... and the formation of NORRA (National Off-Road Racing Association)".:118
B. F. Meyers & Co. models
The commercially manufactured Meyers Manx Mk I featured an open-wheeled fiberglass bodyshell, coupled with the Volkswagen Beetle H4 flat-four engine (1.2 L, 1.3 L, 1.5 L and 1.6 L, in different models) and a modified, RR-layout Beetle frame. It is a small car, with a wheelbase 14¼ inches (36.2 cm) shorter than a Beetle automobile for lightness and better maneuverability. For this reason, the car is capable of very quick acceleration and good off-road performance, despite not being four-wheel drive. The usually street-legal car redefined and filled a recreational and competitive niche that had been essentially invented by the first civilian Jeep in 1945, and which was later to be overtaken by straddle-ridden, motorcycle-based all-terrain vehicles (introduced in 1970) and newer, small and sporty (but usually four-wheel-drive), off-road automobiles.
The commercial Meyers Manx received widespread recognition when it defeated motorcycles, trucks and other cars to win the inaugural Mexican 1000 race (the predecessor of the Baja 1000. It crossed automotive press genre lines, being selected as the cover story in the August 1966 issue of Hot Rod magazine.
Approximately 6,000 of the original Meyers Manx dune buggies were produced, but when the design became popular many copies (estimated at a quarter of a million worldwide) were made by other companies. Although already patented, Meyers & Co. lost in court to the copiers, the judge rescinding his patent as unpatentable, opening the floodgates to the industry Meyers started. Since then, numerous vehicles of the general "dune buggy" or "beach buggy" body type, some VW-based, others not, have been and continue to be produced. An early example was the Imp by EMPI (1968–1970), which borrowed stylistic elements from the Chevrolet Corvette but was otherwise Manx-like. A later 1970s Manx clone was the Dune Runner from Dune Buggy Enterprises in Westminster, California. The Meyers company attempted to stay ahead of this seemingly unfair competition with the release of the distinctive, and harder-to-copy, Meyers Manx Mk II design.
B. F. Meyers & Co. also produced other Beetle-based vehicles, including the May 1970 Car & Driver magazine cover sporty Manx SR variant (street roadsters, borrowing some design ideas from the Porsche 914), the Meyers Tow'd (sometimes referred to as the "Manx Tow'd", a non-street-legal racing vehicle designed to be towed to the desert or beach), the Meyers Tow'dster (a street-legal hybrid of the two,:123), and Meyers Resorter a.k.a. Meyers Turista (a small recreational or "resort" vehicle inspired by touring motorcycles). The Manx SR2 was a modified SR that was only produced by later manufacturers including Karma Coachworks, Heartland Motors and Manx Motors of MD. While the Tow'd was a minimal off-road racer and the SR/SR2 was a showy roadster, the Tow'dster was a compromise between a dune-capable vehicle and a more utilitarian street rod, and "paved the way for the rail-type buggy that was to dominate the buggy scene following the demise of the traditional Manx-type buggy.":122
The company ceased operation in 1971, after financial troubles, including with the Internal Revenue Service;:123 and Bruce Meyers himself had already left his own company by then.:123
Meyers Manx, Inc. models
In 2000, Bruce Meyers created a resurgence of interest by founding Meyers Manx, Inc., based in Valley Center, California, and offering the Classic Manx series, a limited edition of 100.
In 2002, the Manxter 2+2 and Manxter DualSport were born. These two new models are modernizations of the original design, but are sized for a full-length Beetle floor pan (and the DualSport can also be based on a Super Beetle chassis, unlike any other Manx model). Custom versions for higher-power engines and other variations are also available.
In the spring of 2009, Meyers re-introduced the shortened wheelbase. Named the Kick-Out Manx after the last action a surfer performs before reaching the shore, it is available in two models. The Kick-Out Manx Traditional is an updated version of the original Manx concept, with wider fenders, plus a front-hinged hood providing extra storage and easier access to electricals. The Kick-Out Manx S.S. (a.k.a. Kick-Out S.S. Manx) version is much more modern, with headlights flared into the hood, curved windshield, sculpted rear deck cover and twin roll hoops.
No Meyers Manx kits are based on front-engine, front wheel drive platforms such as the New Beetle or other modern Volkswagen cars, only the original rear-engine Beetle and derivatives, including aftermarket frames designed to duplicate VW chassis dimensions but provide improvements such as more modern or more rugged components.
In popular culture
Manx-type cars have appeared in several movies, including Elvis Presley films and the 1968 The Thomas Crown Affair, which contains a lengthy beach-driving scene where a heavily modified Meyers Manx equipped with a Chevrolet Corvair flat-six engine is launched over several dunes.
The Manx-style dune buggy was introduced to a younger generation in the late 1970s, in the form of Wonderbug, a segment of the first two seasons (1976–1978) of the American Sunday-morning children's television program The Krofft Supershow on the ABC network. The series of live-action episodic shorts centered on a sentient car named Schlepcar, made up of rusty old dune buggy and Jeep parts, who could magically transform into the superhero Wonderbug, a fancy, talking Manx-like dune buggy with movable dual front bumpers for a mouth and movable headlights for eyes. The actual car used for Wonderbug was a Dune Runner knock-off, not a genuine Meyers Manx.
The Barbie doll accessory collection long featured a pink and white Manx-like dune buggy toy. Matchbox toy cars come in several Manx-inspired dune buggy models (e.g. the #47b Beach Hopper in 1974, up to the #59 Baja Bandit and its variants still released as recently as 2011).
The Meyers Manx was featured in Sega's arcade game OutRunners as "Wild Chaser".
In the Grand Theft Auto series, a vehicle resembling the Meyers Manx and named the "BF Injection" is a rear engine dune-buggy, first featured in Grand Theft Auto III. An updated version appears in Grand Theft Auto V called the "BF Bifta", while the name "Injection" is given to another vehicle highly resembling the Baja Bug, and the "BF" marque is used for buggies and other cars based on VW models.
The music video for the Gorillaz song 19-2000 features the band driving an animated, customized Manx throughout the video. It is referred to by band member Murdoc Niccals as the "Geep" (referencing Jeep), and is most notably customized with a camouflage paint job, a turbocharger and side-mounted, lock-on capable missile launchers that are normally stored in the undercarriage.
In Forza Horizon 3, the Meyers Manx is shown as a Barn Find somewhere near the Silver Sands Shipwrecks.
- Hale, James (2004). Dune Buggy Handbook. Veloce Pubg. pp. 118–123. ISBN 978-1904788218. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
- "Meyers Manx History". MeyersManx.com. Self-published. 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- "Meyers Manx, Inc.: Home of the Manxter 2+2 and Manxter Dualsport Kit Cars". Meyersmanx.com. 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Meyers Manx.|
- http://MeyersManx.com/ – The modern manufacturer's official Website
- "Meyers Manx (Monocoque)" entry in Dune Buggy Handbook, with detailed technical specs, timeline, and photos