Friday, October 05, 2007

The Manx Turns 40

My middle brother, like my father, is exceptionally handy. A guy who can fix or assemble almost anything. (I, on the other hand, rely heavily on the maintenance and repair professionals of the world. When it comes to home improvement, for example, my skills top out at jiggling the handle. Get much beyond that and I call in the pros.) When he was in his early 20s, he bought a kit to build a Meyers Manx, the quintessential California dune buggy. (Seen above.) I remember his search for a VW bug which had suffered significant body damage, but still had its frame intact. (Building a Manx involved primarily the Beetle frame and drive train -- the body was tossed.) I can recall the bare frame of the Beetle in our garage on Randolph Street, sliced in two in order to shorten the wheelbase. I remember the fiberglass body (orange, I think) being bolted to the new frame, and new, dramatic, upturned exhaust outlets being added to the air-cooled VW engine. My brother then had a doorless, topless vehicle that he used to run on the dunes and beaches near our coastal home.

Later, my brother sold the Manx -- but quickly took on another project, creating a "Baja Bug" by customizing another Beetle by abbreviating the hood, enhancing the engine and adding wide tires designed for traction in sand. Sort of like this one, but blue.
All this reminiscing was brought on by a story in the New York Times about the 40th anniversary of the Meyers Manx, the original dune buggy kit car. Who knew they'd end up being collectible?

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