Bruce Meyers pilots the original Manx dune buggy. (Image: The first Meyers Manx with driver, Bruce Meyers by Astrogeek | CC BY 3.0)

Very rarely does an all-new vehicle go on to define an entire subset of the automotive hobby. The Meyers Manx was one of those vehicles. Look up “Dune Buggy” in the dictionary, and you’ll likely find a picture of the Manx.

And we have Bruce Meyers to thank for it.

Meyers was a World War II veteran, artist, surfer, and off-road racer, yet it was his vision of a cheap, fun, and capable off-road vehicle that became his legacy. Born out of the hot rod culture, Bruce Meyers and his fiberglass-bodied Meyers Manx dune buggy would epitomize the southern California lifestyle.

Yet despite its fun and friendly vibe, the Manx was a serious performance vehicle too. Meyers and his race team campaigned a Manx in the Mexican 1000 (precursor to the Baja 1000) off-road race, setting a speed record in the process.

Want to see a Meyers Manx tribute car built by one of Bruce Meyers’ pals? Check out this Homage to Old Red.

The Manx itself was a beautifully simple design. While the original prototypes featured a lot of fabrication, the “a-ha” moment came when Meyers redesigned the Manx to ride on a modified Volkswagen chassis. Sharing so much with the VW Beetle meant the Manx would be easier to build and repair, and B. F. Meyers & Company cranked out several thousand Manx buggies before the influx of copycat builders forced the company to shutter in 1971.

After creating several labor-intensive prototypes, Meyers tweaked the Manx design to ride on a modified VW Bug floorpan and reuse VW powerplants, making it far more easy to build and repair. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Paul Sakalas)

The Manx silhouette has since become synonymous with the dune buggy, engraining itself into pop culture and creating a legion of new gearheads in the process.

In many ways, Bruce Meyers can also be credited for accelerating the kit car hobby as well—perhaps to a fault, as those aforementioned copycat builders tried to cash-in on the success of the Manx. But the idea of transforming Volkswagens into dune buggies has become a standard recipe that is still incredibly popular.

While Meyers’ original company closed in 1971, it has been reborn in a few forms over the years. The latest iteration, Meyers Manx, LLC, is now owned by venture capital firm Trousdale Ventures.

Bruce Myers passed away late last week. He was 94 years old.

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