Bruce Meyers started a massive automotive trend in 1964 when he designed the VW-based Meyers Manx dune buggy. Now, the 94-year old and his wife, Winnie, are selling Meyers Manx LLC to Trousdale Ventures. Its Chairman, Phillip Sarofim, has announced automotive designer Freeman Thomas as CEO and Chief Creative Officer.
The concept of the Meyers Manx was simple: start with a Beetle, remove the body, shorten the floor pan, and drop in a swoopy fiberglass roadster body. The transformation is stunning, yielding a spirited and nimble buggy that makes the already-lightweight Beetle feel even more lithe. Quick and fun on the street, the Manx came alive off-road, where it could float over sand that would leave other vehicles bogged down. In 1967, Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels piloted a Meyers Manx to win the first-ever NORRA Mexican 1000, the race that would eventually be called the Baja 1000.
With its racing pedigree established, the Meyers Manx would go on to solidify its place in pop culture by co-starring in The Thomas Crown Affair in 1968. The dune buggy craze spawned plenty of imitators, but it’s the original that remains at the top of collectors’ wish lists.
Freeman Thomas, known for designing the Volkswagen New Beetle and Audi TT, also penned the minimalist Panoz Roadster. As Chief Creative Officer it looks like he’ll be overseeing future designs as the company looks to expand its offerings beyond the current lineup that includes buggy bodies for shortened and standard-length VW Beetle pans. Freeman explains his love for Manx and their connection to his youth:
“As a California native, I grew up on the beaches of Southern California surrounded by its unique and creative lifestyle culture. As I became an automotive designer, the philosophy of Bruce Meyers became a huge inspiration, and I am sure I am not alone in thanking him for injecting a huge dose of disruptive creativity into the automotive scene.”
If its ID Buggy concept is any indication, Meyers Manx LLC may have some competition from VW itself, although the expanded lineup from Manx is going to keep to its VW Beetle-based formula for purity’s sake as well as to simplify the development of new models. With any luck, Trousdale Ventures can carry the Manx legacy into new designs that inspire enthusiasts just as the original did. We know we’re looking forward to the next generation of dune buggy fun.