Everything You Need to Know About the Meyers Manx
Between 1964 and 1970, one kind of car set off-road records, won races, made its way into movies and pop culture, brought its maker fame, and then nearly destroyed him. The car was copied thousands of times and remains instantly recognizable today. If you guessed Shelby Cobra, here's another hint: It was also quite good off-road. No vicious snake, this, but an agile, bobtailed cat—the Meyers Manx.
Related: Sign up for a free trial to the MotorTrend App today to stream season 2, episode 11 of HOT ROD Unlimited that features the Meyers Manx!
The Meyers Manx was born like Venus out of the ocean's foam, a transformation of surfer culture into four-wheeled transport made possible through the talents and madness of wave rider and all-around hot rodder Bruce Meyers. It was the early '60s in Southern California, and if the songs are to be believed, the world was all waves and girls and oceanside bonfires. Meyers was a happy beach bum at the time. "I'm not a car guy," he tells us, "I never thought of anything beyond tomorrow's surf. "
Car guy or not, Meyers was a part of the scene, running stripped-down jalopies at the dry lake beds and experimenting with lightweight materials as a tooling fabricator for Jensen Marine's first fiberglass sailboats in between jaunts off to Mexico and regular surfing adventures. Whether in Mexico or his hometown of Newport Beach, California, Meyers and all those happy surfers had to get from land to sea, and they did it in homemade dune buggies—stripped-down Jeeps and Volkswagens built to dash across the sand with a surfboard in the back and a friend or two in the passenger seat, if you had a passenger seat. The one-off buggies were utilitarian, but Bruce Meyers was an artist, and artists look to the form. Meyers saw an opportunity to use his fiberglass skills, gleaned from the years of boat-building and surfboard-making, to create a DIY kit for a 'glass-bodied buggy.
Related, from Four Wheeler:Bruce Meyers Sells His Namesake Dune Buggy-Building Company
The story of the shape is one of those legends one shouldn't question. Did the Manx really start as a drawing on a napkin in a beachside bar? Let's say yes, because if it didn't, it should have. Meyers says the shape was pure aesthetics, and in describing it, his hands trace a form more commonly associated with curvy women than off-road vehicles. Even if it was modeled more after wind-blown beach bunnies than by wind-tunneltested engineering, the Manx was perfectly suited to its task. The high, hippy fenders gave lots of room for tire clearance and with its light weight and short-wheelbased, the car turned easily on- and off-road. The wide-fender design also, as Manx club official Joe Spittler pointed out to us, offered a fine flat spot to set a beer once the driving was done. Meyers thought of everything!
Meyers started the first Manx in 1963 and completed it in 1964. The car's simple shape belies some rather sophisticated composite work, with embedded steel in a structural, monocoque fiberglass body bolted to the suspension and running gear of a VW Bug. The car was a hit amongst fellow buggy enthusiasts, and received enough media attention (including covers of the Aug. '66 HOT ROD and April '67 Car and Driver) to start the phones ringing. That would be enough for most inventors, but Meyers wanted to prove the little car's value beyond its photogenic qualities, and in his quest to do so, he may have kickstarted more than just the buggy craze.
Meyers and his friends were regular visitors to the wilds of the Baja Peninsula, well before any official races were run there. Honda Motor Co. was using the Tijuana to La Paz route as a publicity stunt to promote its motorcycles, and Meyers and his friend, Ted Mangels, thought they could do the run in less time than the publicized 39 hours and 56 minutes held by bike racer Dave Ekins.
Manx legend holds that Mangels suggested the run on a Monday, and he and Meyers left to do it that Friday. Like the napkin story, we want it to be true so much that we don't care if it isn't. The results are not in question. The Manx, heavily laden with fuel jugs, made the run in 34 hours and 45 minutes, besting the bike record by five hours. Meyers got a plaque, and later that year the inaugural NORRA (National Off Road Racing Association) Mexican 1000 followed a similar route, and was won by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels in a Meyers Manx. That race has since grown into the famed SCORE Baja 1000.
The word was out—the Manx was hot, and people wanted it. Meyers had made 12 of the original design before realizing it was unfeasible for mass production. "People didn't really care about the monocoque design," Meyers says. "They just wanted it to be cheap and easy, plus they didn't like throwing away the rest of the VW, and neither did I." The redesigned Manx kit used the chassis of the VW Bug, shortened by approximately 14 inches. Owners used the VW pedal assemblies, shift levers, linkages, transaxle, trailing-arm assemblies, and engine as well as whatever gauges, seats, steering wheel, and other pieces they desired from the donor bug or from many buggy accessory catalogs available at the time.
An entire industry sprang up around the dune buggy, and Meyers set up dealers and support networks around the country. One of Meyers' biggest supporters was Bob Major, a racing driver who steered exotic cars around exotic places throughout the '50s and early '60s. When he decided to look for a career less prone to death by Ferrari, his friends suggested he look into a car dealership. Major liked the look of the Manx, so he went to California to meet Bruce, and there began a lifelong affection for both Meyers and his Manx. Major Cars Inc. went on to be the biggest Manx showroom in the country. Business was good for Meyers and his friends, but the popularity of his car was about to be the company's downfall.
Costing about $600 plus a wrecked VW, the Meyers Manx was a good deal, maybe too good. Meyers was cranking them out and had dealers all over the country, but his process was labor intensive, and several companies, some with less stringent quality control, began marketing their own version of the fiberglass dune buggy, often straight-up copies of Meyers' design. There were court cases and attempts to waylay the Manx-forgers through increasingly complex moldmaking designs like the all-off-road Tow'd and the radical, scissor-doored Manx SR, but the court cases went against Meyers, and the Tow'd and the SR did not have the mass appeal, nor ease of assembly, that made the original Manx so appealing. Meyers couldn't compete. Of the close-to 250,000 buggies that hit the road, maybe 5,000 are real Manxes. In 1970, tired of lawsuits and bills, Meyers left the company, and in 1971, Meyers and Co. auctioned off the leftovers and was out of the buggy business. The imitators went on, though, and today—although you've surely seen plenty of Manx-like cars in movies or in cartoons, bouncing along beaches, or maybe even tucked under tarps in your neighborhood—you might have never seen a real one.
To find out what makes the Manx so enduring, and endearing, we invited Bruce Meyers and several members of the Manx Club to bring their cars into the studio, where we crawled all over them. We went out for a ride with collector Perry Margouleff, talked about VW hop-ups with original owner Bob Yahn, and even borrowed a new DualSport Manx for a week. Oh, that's right, there's a new Manx, because you can't keep a good idea down. In 1999, Meyers decided to try again, and reinvented the buggy with a bigger engine and seat warmers. As of 2013, there were three new models you can build, or, of course, you could find and rescue a classic Manx. Look at those eyes, how could you resist? What we found throughout our Manxtivities was a microcosm of hot-rodding in general. Some people make them pretty, some make them loud, and some make them race, but everyone makes them their own.
That's Tow'd, not Toad
The classic Manx was no slouch in competition, winning not only off-road events but besting Cobras and Corvettes in slalom trials and even claiming a class win at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb with Ted Trevor behind the wheel of a Corvair-powered buggy, but once again, Bruce Meyers wanted to go further, and he developed the off-road Meyers Tow'd.
The Tow'd was even more stripped down than a classic Manx, with minimal fenders and a narrow front. The Tow'd name came from an extendable tow bar in the nose that would allow the car to be quickly hitched to a truck or wagon and "tow'd" home after an off-road excursion. The first dealer to offer the Tow'd was Major Cars Inc., and owner Bob Major headed from Chicago to California to oversee the building of the prototypes.
The first two Tow'd cars were one-off builds, with aluminum front ends, and weighed a mere 900 pounds. Major's car was powered by a Porsche 356 flat-four, and you can imagine it moved out when he entered it in the '67 Las Vegas 711. "The Vegas race was real fine dust," Major recalls. "The heavy V8 cars had to plow through it, but the Tow'd just danced across the top. Other cars had to stop for railroad tracks, we just jumped them at full speed and kept on." Major and co-driver/mechanic Bob Anderson had a spirited start in the 711, but electrical problems ended their run early, and an upcoming accident for Bruce Meyers was about to discourage Major from off-road racing.
In 1968, Meyers took his Tow'd down to Mexico, and a nasty crash in the Baja desert during the race left him with two broken legs and nearly a full day to stare at his own ankle bones until he was finally noticed and rescued. It didn't stop Meyers from returning to off-road racing, but Major put the No. 20 Tow'd aside, and the car went first to a French collector and finally ended up in Perry Margouleff's collection, now with a VW engine but still taped up for the Vegas race with a thermos of water for the driver and a plastic bottle of oil for the car stuck to the rollbars. Only about 1,000 Tow'd kits were made during the Manx production years.
Lambo Doors Before Lambo
Lamborghini gets all the credit for scissor doors. Heck, they are commonly called "Lambo doors," but Manx did them before the Italian Bull had even a NACA duct complete on the Countach.
It was 1969. Things were rough over at Meyers and Co. Lawsuits were raging, and Bruce Meyers was still recovering from nearly severing his foot in Baja. But while he was short on luck, he was never low on ideas. Meyers wanted to design a more street-oriented vehicle—still a kit, but more a sports car than a dune buggy. He hired a young designer, Sewart Reed, to help.
"Any second-rate mold shop could copy the classic Manx," Reed remembers. "We tried to make the SR too complex to be copied." Whereas the second-gen Manx was a two-piece fiberglass kit, the SR was 10 pieces. People liked it, but not nearly as many felt capable of building it.
"Brilliant Bruce Meyers," Reed says. "He had very clear ideas about detail, about form and fabrication. He could really maximize the tooling. He had a great sense of humor. He was always having a good time. "
The SR tooling went through a series of companies after '71 and SR kits were made under different names, but Meyers and Co. probably only made about 200 kits.
More Details About the Meyers Manx
Swapping from the flat-four to the Corvair, whether naturally aspirated or turbocharged, requires some changes to the drivetrain, like beefing up the VW's somewhat spindly transaxle and changing out gears to account for the Corvair's engine rotation (which is opposite that of the VW).
Somewhere, someone with a mid-year Corvette is looking for those taillights! Most Manxes use the slightly less stylish Volkswagen bug lights.
Bruce's original exhaust design called for two straight pipes, but he found it hard to keep up with his friends in other vehicles during off-road runs. "Make a collector," the voices told him and he welded up the manifold you see here. "People still like the straight pipes," he told us. "They like the way they sound, but the 'Sidewinder' as I call it, makes much more power. "
Buggy enthusiast Bob Yahn saw his first real Manx at a Chicago car show in 1968, and it was Linn Major's floral show car now owned by Perry Margouleff. Yahn liked the looks of it so much that he went home and built one. Meyers is convinced some of the OEM guys saw the buggy, too, since soon after that show Chrysler offered the flowered Mod-Top as a factory option on B-, E-, and A-bodies.
Flowered or plain, Manx interiors were left up to the builder and can be as basic as stock Volkswagen seats or as elaborate as these heated, custom-covered Beard off-road seats in Meyers' '03 Manxster 2+2.
In the late '60s, accessories for buggy builders were available almost everywhere, from gas stations to Sears Roebuck. This was a mixed blessing, as quality could be an issue. "They don't work for s**t," says Yahn, referring to the cable-driven steering brake handles flanking his emergency brake lever. Designed to assist in quick direction changes over sand, the brakes apply or release one side of the rear brakes. Says Yahn, "There are good ones, these aren't. If you get one tire stuck and use it, you'll just get the other tire stuck. "
Because each owner built their own Manx, the resulting cars reflect more than the view in the hubcaps. This buggy was built by a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. All the build records and paperwork came with the car, including the receipt for a can of flat-black "Catalac," the low-reflection paint used inside telescopes and, apparently, on one dune buggy undercarriage.
At his dealership, Bob Major offered weekly seminars covering various buggy-building tips, from interiors to suspension set-up, and his show cars featured many of the newest trends and options.
The Manx bodies were shipped to dealers stacked in crates. This occasionally resulted in damage, although the fiberglass bodies were surprisingly resilient. Perry Margouleff refers to it as "boingosity," or maybe that comes straight from Bruce Meyers. It sounds like his sort of engineering speak.
The '09 KickOut Traditional looks a lot like a classic Manx but has some changes such as additional storage room, an opening hood, and wider rear fenders.
This story originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of HOT ROD magazine. Go buy Elana's book, "Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme: My Life Beyond the 1320"!
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"The Flat ManxChassis"(Barrett Designs© Shortened, Flat, Manx Chassis)
"The Flat ManxChassis" is designed as an upgrade for shortened Manx buggies. Handmade in the USA, It maintains the classic look and height, but delivers an improved ride, superior handling, and a plethora of custom options, that all help your build come together easily..
No matter the style setup.
The Flat ManxChassis gives you a rock-solid,
extra-durable, feature-enabled foundation, on which to build or rebuild your Manx.
"California Condor"(Barrett Designs© 3-inch lift, Manx Chassis)
The new California CondoR High Flyin' Chassis, raises the body 3 inches... but, also gives you 1 1/2 inches extra height, (under the pan, between the axles) which gives a higher center ground clearance. So, you can go over bigger boulders, sand dune lips and higher curbs on neighborhood runs. This chassis will also allow you to run a Manx1 Style body,(with the battery wells), and use IRS rear suspension, without having to cut the fiberglass.
This Chassis likes being used with a Bus trans, If you are running large tires you will need the gearing from the Bus trans. I offer my "Super Condor" version which has some hip off-road options... But, don't fear kids.. this chassis can also be built for the sedan trans, and still kicks it. The front beam is extended an extra inch for use with the VW steering box, or two inches if you are using a rack and pinion steering box. Lots of options to make the build easy and quick for you.
BUBBLE SIDE PODS
Berrien’s “Bubble” Side Pods offer a completed look and fuller body line to our Nostalgia body. Made from the same durable fiberglass as the body, these pods are easy to mount, and can completely change the look of your car. Sorry, we can only guarantee that our pods will fit our Nostalgia body, or an original Meyers’ Manx. Available in solid or metalflake gelcoat colors.
FLAT SIDE PODS
Flat side pods are the economical answer to, “My fiberglass body is from an unknown manufacturer…do you have side pods to fit it?” YES, we do! The flat pods give a more finished look, covering up the exposed fiberglass with a beautiful gelcoat color layer. They fit tight to the inside wall of the body and frame. And, they fit almost ANY 80″ wheelbase shortened body that was designed to fit the VW pan.
Complete that Nostalgic look with the four-passenger hardtop from Berrien. Made of durable fiberglass in your choice of standard or metalflake gelcoat colors.
OPTIONAL Oval Rear Window (C058-BB329B) and 9″ Porthole Side Windows (C058-BB329D).
Fits Nostalgia ONLY.
Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to install your hardtop and windshield together. Slight changes in the angle of the windshield can cause major problems later on if you decide to add a hardtop. If you think you might want a hardtop, don’t wait! You can always store the hardtop when you feel like getting some sun!
FULL TOP WILL FIT ON BERRIEN NOSTALGIA AND LANCER BODIES, PLUS MOST CLONES. EASY ON AND EASY OFF WITH 3 WINDOWS
COMPLETE TOP FEATURES
EASY ON AND OFF
2 SIDE CURTAINS
CLEAR OR LIGHT SMOKE WINDOW TINTS
7/8″ ALUMINUM TUBING
ALL HARDWARE INCLUDED
AVAILABLE IN BLACK, WHITE, TOAST
STORAGE BOOT & STORAGE BAGS
*WILL FIT ALL ORIGINAL MEYERS MANX AND BERRIEN BODIES, AND MOST KNOCK OFF BUGGY CLONES.
BASED ON ORIGINAL MEYERS MANX AND BERRIEN NOSTALGIA BODIES IT WILL FIT ALL DUNE BUGGIES WITH CHANNEL FRONT WINDSHIELD. THERE IS NO NEED TO DRILL INTO BODY FOR ADDITIONAL HARDWARE
MINI TOP FEATURES
EASY ON AND OFF
ENJOY YOUR BUGGY WITH SHADE PROTECTION
THIS TOP IS ALSO WATERPROOF
ATTACHES TO WINDSHIELD
WRAPS AROUND ROLL BAR
NO HARDWARE NEEDED
INCLUDES STORAGE BAG
HAND MADE IN AMERICA
*WILL FIT ALL ORIGINAL MEYERS MANX AND BERRIEN BODIES, AND MOST KNOCK OFF BUGGY CLONES.
Finally, an answer to broken fiberglass dashes! This handy kit installs in minutes, and takes the weight of the steering column off of the fiberglass dash, and relocates it to the more substantial strength in the sides of the body. Also includes windshield reinforcement plates, to shore up the windshield mounting location, and a wiper motor bracket. 5″ of width adjustment makes this kit universal for most fiberglass buggy bodies.
NOSTALGIA, LANCER, & GENESIS
Protect the edge of that body, and yourself from the possible sharp edges!
Our jiffy trim is designed to fit snugly along the edges of the body to give that clean, finished look,
and will protect your gelcoat edges from unintended chipping. Sold per foot.
Pro Tip: If your body is thicker than 3/16″ at any point along the edge, you’ll need to grind it down a little for the trim to fit properly. You’ll also want to round off any sharp corners because jiffy trim doesn’t bend well around tight radiuses.
This 2″ OD show bar looks great and makes a convenient place to mount lights or other accessories. Frame mount version bolts to the two rear body mount holes on our Nostalgia chassis or drill your own if using a stock pan. Body mount version bolts through the sides of the body, as well as the front lower part of the rear seat.
Neither show bar is intended for rollover protection.
Give your buggy a true “off-road” look with the 4-point show cage kit from Berrien Buggy by Acme. Made from 1 1/2″ OD tubing, it is designed to fit inside our 4 passenger hardtop. Available as a knockdown kit or fully welded. Fits our Nostalgia body or an original Meyers’ Manx. Please note the front hoop on this cage is NOT symmetric, but rather is designed to fit the offset which is present in the dash of the original Manx and our
Nostalgia.Please specify if your body was produced AFTER March 2014. *Not intended for rollover protection.
Nostalgia, Lancer, Gensis only
The Nostagia, Genesis, and Lancer bodies use an early VW style gas tank, mounted in the nose of the body, under the hood. The filler neck is usually relocated to be centered in the hood. (See fuel filler kit below).
Includes stainless steel fuel filler with cap, 2 1/2″ of mild steel tubing to weld to the top of the gas tank, marine-grade rubber hose, and hose clamps. Everything you need to relocate your fuel filler neck. Available in screw-on or flush-mount styles.
Berrien offers true engine protection and ease of access at an affordable price! The “other guys'” rear bumper kits are bolt-on, using the upper shock bolts as mounting locations for the bumper, meaning that you have to disconnect your shocks when you want to install or remove the cage. The Nostalgia Rear Cage kit welds to the body mount location on the shock tower, and incorporates a rear jump seat support, and frame horn supports right into the kit, strengthening your entire torsion. The bumper part of the cage bolts to flanges on top, and slides onto the included rear transmission mount, making the cage fully removable with only four bolts. The underbar crossbar gives a convenient location for a license plate or backup light. Available for your choice of dual or merged exhaust, and IRS or Swingaxle, specify when ordering. Sold as a knockdown kit or installed when we build your chassis.
USED WHEN MOUNTING GENESIS BODY ON STOCK VW PAN.
Creates a water-tight seal between the body and floor.
From the March 2014 issue
“I don’t know what I was thinking or why I was thinking it when I did it,” Bruce Meyers exhales while standing next to his Manx Kick-Out S.S. “But here it is. And here I am.”
What it is, is a dune buggy—a swoopy lump of fiberglass atop an old VW Beetle’s chopped-down floorpan that is the most iconic shape ever crafted in California. Elvis drove one in Live a Little, Love a Little. Steve McQueen used one to seduce Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair. It was Speed Buggy on the Saturday morning cartoon block. It is sunshine and SoCal rendered in composites. A vapor trail of bikinis and beach volleyball games follows behind it. The Meyers Manx should be powered by Coppertone.
And it’s a shape—constantly copied, cloned, and ripped off—that’s been around since 1964. But it’s still around and, more surprisingly, so is Bruce Meyers.
Now 88, Meyers survived kamikaze attacks while serving on the USS Bunker Hill in 1944, competed in the first Baja 1000-mile race in 1967 with a jerrycan of gas clamped between his legs, and is currently working on marriage No. 6. “I’ve got a lot of stories,” he says. Bouncing around the five-acre spread in rural eastern San Diego County where he lives, Meyers is still doting on his one great contribution to American culture, coming up with new variations and shipping out fiberglass bodies starting at $4700. The Kick-Out S.S. kit starts at $5700; this one cost $7755.
Approaching the Manx with a fresh eye isn’t easy. After all, one was on the cover of Car and Driver’s April 1967 issue (“You Can Build This Fun Car For $635!”). Back in 2006, this magazine profiled Bruce Meyers and drove the larger Manxter 2+2 he had designed as a follow-up. It’s easy to dismiss the Manx as an artifact of a bygone moment. Sorting out its relevance in the 21st century is tougher.
His latest yellow screamer, pictured here, is powered by a water-cooled Subaru 2.5-liter four. Despite the Subie power, however, the basic chassis is still vintage VW, in this case a 1970 Beetle with the preferred later-model trailing-arm rear suspension. Meyers says he has “about $35,000” into this one and will raffle it off this July to someone who buys a ticket through the MeyersManx.com website.
“The ‘kick-out’ is the maneuver a surfer makes at the end of riding a wave,” Meyers says. “S.S. is for ‘Strictly Street.’”
So this Manx rides low over 15-inch, five-spoke wheels inside BFGoodrich Radial T/A all-season tires with ridiculously skinny 155/80R-15s in front and relatively enormous 275/60R-15s in back. “Where did we get these wheels?” Meyers asks his sole shop employee, Miguel. “I don’t know,” is the answer; “eBay?”
The street-oriented character of this Kick-Out is also apparent in the Griffin aluminum radiator hanging vulnerably low under the nose. Also the fiberglass pods that fill in the bottoms of each side and feature a duct to nowhere. Could radiators be fitted behind those side pods? “Sure,” Meyers shrugs. “You can do whatever you want.” With its color-impregnated finish, nose-down stance, creased fenders, nerf bars, twin roll-bar hoops, and a curved Super Beetle windshield, the Kick-Out is both unmistakably a Manx and gorgeous.
VEHICLE TYPE: rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 0-door roadster
PRICE AS TESTED: $35,000
BASE PRICE (Meyers Manx S.S. kit): $5,700
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 150 cu in, 2457 cc
Power (mfr's claim): 170 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque (mfr's claim): 166 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 80.0 in
Length: 132.0 in
Width: 68.0 in Height: 48.0 in
Curb weight: 1631 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 5.2 sec
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 5.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.2 sec @ 94 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 226 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.68 g (right-turning only)
TEST NOTES:Due to prodigious aerodynamic drag, acceleration is glacial above 90 mph; left-turning performance is severely inhibited by fuel starvation.
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Body vw manx
MGM/FRP-STDBODY : MANX STYLE LONG BODY w/ HOOD, DASH & WINDSHIELD
We are now carrying MGM/FRP's newest version of Manx style Long body which has a larger dash, corrected fuel tank angle, larger rear seat area, corrected tail angle, 3" of extra height in the side compared to the older body. So no more body lifts! You can add the flat color matched side panels for $275.00 per set in solid color. The new body fits on any full length type 1 pan to make it street legal. Includes hood, dash and windshield. Can be made in any solid color or optional metal flake for an additional $550.00. (Order time is approx. 3 to 4 weeks from order to completion. Body are F.O.B. and shipping can be arranged) Contact us for shipping cost.
Some pictures shown above are used for demo's only. This is just the kit not a complete buggy and no barwork. We do sell the 6 point roll cage seperatly with rear bumper, contact us for price and details.
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Not to be confused with the Norton Manx, a street-racing motorcycle.
"Bruce Meyers" redirects here. For other people with similar names, see Bruce Myers (disambiguation).
Bruce Meyers in a genuine Meyers Manx.
|Manufacturer||Bruce F. Meyers individually (prototype)|
B. F. Meyers & Co. (main production)
Meyers Manx, Inc. (modern revival)
|Production||1964–65 (prototype, 12 built)|
1965–1971 (main, ~6,000 built)
|Assembly||Newport Beach, California (prototype)|
Fountain Valley, California (main)
Valley Center, California (revival)
|Engine||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 Manxdune 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 modeled and built his first dune buggy, "Old Red", a shortened VW Beetle with a monocoque, fiberglass shell and Chevrolet pickup truck (trailing arm style) 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, and with no top and no hood. 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 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. 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.
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 1967 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 sportyManx 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 [clarification needed]
Meyers Manx, Inc.
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.
As of 2012[update], no Meyers Manx kits are based on the New Beetle or other modern Volkswagen cars, only particular original Beetle and Super Beetle models, which are rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive. No Meyers Manx kits are based on front-engine, front-wheel-drive platforms.Aftermarket frames are available, designed to duplicate VW chassis dimensions but provide improvements such as more modern or more rugged components.
Meyers Manx, LLC
On 9 November 2020 it was announced that Bruce and Winnie Meyers had sold their company to Trousdale Ventures. The new company would be called Meyers Manx, LLC.
Bruce Meyers died in California on February 19, 2021 at the age of 94.
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 in which actor Steve McQueen drives an extensively-modified Meyers Manx, visibly equipped with a Chevrolet Turbo-Air 6 engine from a Chevrolet Corvair, on beaches and over dunes.
Speed Buggy, a 1973 cartoon show that ran for 16 episodes featured a sentient & speaking dune buggy (based on the Meyers Manx) voiced by Mel Blanc. 
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). Playmates produced a Manx-inspired Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure vehicle called "Mike's Kowabunga Surf Buggy".
The Meyers Manx was featured in Sega's arcade game OutRunners as "Wild Chaser".
In the Grand Theft Auto video game 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, and seen again in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories as a hidden vehicle. 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. It also appears on the cover of their self titled first album.
The Meyers Manx appears in the Microsoft Studios racing video game Forza Horizon 3 (2016). The vehicle also appears in later entries in the Forza game series, including Forza Motorsport 7 (2017) and Forza Horizon 4 (2018).
The Meyers Manx was featured in The Grand Tour season 1 in an episode called "beach buggy boys" where they drive ac.