Bruce Meyers, the legendary designer of the '60s Meyers Manx dune buggy, is back on the kit car scene with his newest bug incarnation, the Manxter, which was on display at this year's Knott's Berry Farm get-together.
Forty years ago, he created the first 12 Meyers Manxes, with no floorpans at all. They were referred to as monococques, and only seven exist today. They are the most collectible, restored, and copied of the 6,000 Meyers Manx kits produced. Some 300,000 variables of the Manx have been created from Australia to Africa to Europe.
The original Meyers Manx won the first Baja 1000 off-road race in 1967, and it was the world's first fiberglass dune buggy, created in '60s style with '60s technology. Meyers had been playing around with flotation tires on his VW bus in an effort to drive over sand dunes when the concept emerged. A few sketches, some sculpture, and a fiberglass mold later, the Manx emerged. It bolted easily onto a VW, but he needed something cheaper and better handling; after those first 12 were sold, he modified the body on a shortened Volksie, and an entire craze was born.
The Manx won at Pike's Peak ('66) and even beat Cobras and Lotus 7s in various slalom races-they won 39 of 40 races entered. The body was embraced by celebrities such as James Garner, Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley, and Desi Arnaz and became the darling of Southern California.
However, the dune buggy movement waned, and as VW-based copies flooded the market, Meyers, after creating the Manx SR, left the business in 1971.
Well, he is back...and back with a stylish vengeance. Meyers took the simple Manx dune buggy design and has brought it to the next level-the Manxter 2+2. The Manxter 2+2 takes the original concept into the 21st century with tried-and-true ideas and cutting-edge technology and style.
Simplicity is the keynote here,as the full-length VW-donor chassis ('68-and-later) is left untouched, enabling the four-seat arrangement that fits in well with today's younger buyers and family-oriented market. With the stamped sheetmetal frame, the vehicle has a wheelbase of 94 inches. It employs a VW Type II transaxle and Meyers has removed the antiroll bar. For safety, the car uses Type II VW drum brakes in the rear and Kharmann Ghia discs up front.
The Manxter has improved upon the original with seats for the kids, a triple-hoop rollcage integral with side protrusion bars protecting the entire family, an opening hood, room for an ice box, a locking glovebox, and the removal of only two bolts to disengage the hardtop-making for easy removal of the windshield and exposing all wiring and instrumentation for repair. There is no need for chroming, painting, or welding, as the kit includes polished stainless steel bumpers, your choice of gelcoat colors, and no need for welding.
The Manxter derives its power from a 2,500cc Type I VW engine, with 204 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. This makes this four-seat beauty scary fast, yet docile. The Bernie Bergmann-designed mill is accompanied by graphite-coated 94mm pistons, Chevy Journal H-beam rods, Engle 110 camshaft, Weber 44 IDF dual carbs, and Bergmann's 911-style fan conversion kit. The gearbox is a 002, '70 VW Bus-type II, which has been heavily beefed up by Stuff Transmission of Oceanside, California.
And this 1,500-pound scooter corners like a go-kart.
With the same internal dimensions as a Maserati 2+2, the seats are by Premier Racing Products, covered in beige vinyl. The steering wheel is from MOMO, the instruments are VDO, and the 17-inch billet wheels were prototyped by Chip Foose in Huntington Beach, California (one legend working with another). They were shod by BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires, and the running gear was provided by Interstate VW.