June 20, 2024

Classic Wheels Spotlight: 1969 Meyers Manx Dune Buggy

Stylish 1969 Meyers Manx dune buggy is cool diversion

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1969 Meyers Manx Dune Buggy Side

One of the more distinct-looking vehicles, and one you don’t see every day, is the Meyers Manx dune buggy. Designed and built by Bruce Meyers, an engineer, artist, and boat builder, as well as someone who dabbled in hot rods, this dune buggy was most prevalent in the late-sixties and early seventies.

Being from California, Meyers was familiar with desert racing, but he felt these specialty vehicles lacked power and were in desperate need of some visual flair. From 1963-1964, he designed and built the first steel-reinforced fiberglass body that he initially put on a shortened Volkswagen Bug chassis.

In 1967, Meyers and his co-pilot took on a 1,000-mile motorcycle racecourse from Tijuana to La Paz in their dune buggy. They broke the record by 5 hours and 11 minutes – and the now-famous Baja-1,000 became a new event. The Meyers Manx Company eventually built 6,000 of the dune buggies, until they went out of business in the early seventies.

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1969 Meyers Manx Dune Buggy Rear

While in high school, Jeff Downey was first introduced to the Meyers Manx dune buggy by his neighbor. He bought his very own dune buggy 30 years ago when a friend lost interest in restoring it. The car wound up being stored in Jeff’s mother’s garage for many years until his kids were older and had moved out of the house.

With more room in the garage for his project, Jeff brought the dune buggy home and began to restore it. There have been many upgrades to the suspension and drivetrain, but the body is pretty much as it was when it was built. The brilliant Metal Flake Golden Orange paint is all original. The original factory tag is still under the back seat, a little faded, but it’s still there.

Wanting to keep his dune buggy as ‘69 as possible, Jeff’s only additions to the body have been a 1969 Camaro side view mirror, 1965 Impala taillights, and a 1966 Corvette fuel door. The interior has been updated from the bare fiberglass seats to padded, black vinyl seats. The interior, floor mats, shifter, and parking brake boots are custom-made by Scott Bergleson of Joliet. The steering shaft and wheel have also been reworked. Jeff had the Manx logo engraved into the horn button by T&D Bowling Awards.

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1969 Meyers Manx Dune Buggy Rear Interior

The engine is a 1971 VW Beetle 2110 cc unit delivering 140 horsepower (original factory engines had 50 horsepower). The engine has been bored and stroked, (the interior of the block had to be machined to handle the oversized crankshaft and cylinders), and oversized valves were also installed, as was a high-performance cam. Jeff had to make special baffles and breather tubes on the valve covers to keep the oil from sloshing out on turns. The carbs have also been reworked.

In addition to the drivetrain and suspension undergoing a major overhaul, the transaxle was upgraded from KCR Racing Transmissions. The engine block was sanded and painted a gloss black, and all of the engine shrouding is now chromed. Aluminum pulleys were added to finish off that “WOW” look.

Jeff went all out on the suspension and the brakes. The front spindles are lowered and the chrome, oil-filled shocks are from Speedway Motors Suspension. They are for a Ford Model A or T, and because it sat too low, the front sway bar has been removed. The rear torsion bars have also been adjusted to lower it. The brakes are now a 4-wheel disc system, with a dual reservoir master cylinder. The wheels are old-school Cragar SS mags. The rims are Mickey Thompson 40 series and the rear tires are 18-inches wide. The speedometer is a VDC GPS unit to compensate for the huge tires. And the odometer is correct, with only 4,500 miles on it.

Photos by Rudy Host, Jr. - 1969 Meyers Manx Dune Buggy Interior

Jeff wants to give a shout out to a couple of his friends that helped him out along the way. First to Chat Jones, who helped him with some of the earlier welding fabrication, and to John Springer, who was there to lend a hand when needed.

Jeff takes his “Buggy” to local car shows. The things Jeff likes most about his “unique” ride are, the conversations that come up about it, and that it’s fun to drive. He also said that he has to watch the weather when he goes for a ride because getting caught in the rain is not fun!

If you have a car you would like to see featured in Classic Wheels, contact Rudy Host, Jr. at Classic.Wheels.Rudy@gmail.com.