Rides from the Readers: 2020 Meyers Manx
Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.
It’s been more than 50 years since Californian hot rodder Bruce Meyers first created a desert-bombing speedster out of a VW Beetle. But the fiberglass-bodied dune buggies that followed that first Baja-designed racer are still capturing the imaginations of people across the globe.
After he lost a copyright battle in 1970, Meyers didn’t offer the fiberglass “Manx” kits for nearly three decades. In 1999, however, the DIY packages became available once more. Somewhere along the way, one Roger Otrey—a longtime racer and a fan of eclectic automotive projects, judging by the 350-swapped Corvair in his garage—built his own. And in 2020, that Manx inspired Roger’s nephew Robert, and Robert’s wife, Beullah, to design, fund, and build one of their own.
Robert, who goes by Bob, worked in a car dealership as a heavy duty line mechanic and for a railroad before he founded his own business, a tiling and remodeling company. However, he credits Beullah as the breadwinner: “She’s the one who financed the car—none of it [the Manx] would have happened without her.”
After a brief stint in the states in 2001 to take her nursing exams, Beullah emigrated from South Africa in 2004 to work at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was a woman on a mission.
“I landed in Baltimore, Maryland, and asked, ‘What’s the best hospital in America?'” Eight years later, she was Johns Hopkins’ head ICU nurse. Today, after working at a litany of illustrious U.S. hospitals, she works as a nurse educator at Kaiser Permanante in Los Angeles.
A Manx isn’t designed to be subtle, and any project with Beullah’s design direction was going to be a statement. A pearl-studded, adjustable steering column, a metallic purple fiberglass body, white upholstery—she provided the vision for the Manx, and even a pandemic wouldn’t stop Roger and Bob from making it a reality.
After dragging a 1969 Beetle back from a local junkyard and stripping it of its sheetmetal, uncle and nephew built the entire Manx in Roger’s backyard and home shop. From the custom foam center console to latches for the storage spaces integrated into the fiberglass body, they fabricated most of the dune-going roadster themselves—though they did outsource engine work and windshield-cutting to nearby specialists.
“I went 40 miles a day to [Roger’s] house, seven days a week, for 9 months,” Bob says with a laugh. Beullah describes him as “the hardest working man I’ve ever met.”
For Beullah, watching the Manx take shape was a surreal experience. Though she’s since earned her status in nursing through years of focus and dedication, Beullah wasn’t born into riches in South Africa. Reflecting the moment when Roger volunteered to help them build the Manx, she says: “That was the first time anybody said I could get anything that I wanted. I was totally amazed that he started this project for us.”
One of the most memorable episodes in the process was when the Terrells drove to San Diego with Roger to pick up the roadster’s fiberglass body from Bruce Meyers and got to meet the man himself—mere weeks before Bruce passed away from blood cancer.
“Uncle Roger was so happy,” Bob recalls. “He was like a young boy just excited to meet an idol in the car business.”
Today, the Manx shows 2000 miles on its odometer, and Beullah and Bob couldn’t be happier with it.
“When I drive that car down the streets, the kids fall off their skateboards,” Bob says. “They’ve never seen one—don’t really know what they saw.”
As Meyers told the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA, now the Hagerty Drivers Foundation) in an episode of This Car Matters: “[If] you want to attract attention, get one of these things.” We’d say that Beullah and Bob fully understand the Manx spirit.