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Bruce Meyers, Creator of the Meyers Manx, Has Passed Away
Posted by: OttawaCorvairGuy ()
Date: February 20, 2021 05:29AM

© Mark Vaughn His creation became popularized as the Dune Buggy and brought off-road joy to thousands

*Bruce Meyers has passed away at the age of 94, from a blood disease called myelodysplasia.

*Meyers was perhaps best know for the Meyers Manx, known worldwide as the Dune Buggy, which was copied for generations

*He was also an off-road racer and one of a very small handful of desert rats who created what came to be known as the Baja 1000.

Bruce Meyers, creator of the Meyers Manx, a car that would become known worldwide as"The Dune Buggy" and that would be copied and replicated for generations, and who was an original pioneer of racing in Baja, has passed away at the age of 94.

Meyers died of a blood disease called myelodysplasia, which is similar to leukemia.

“You know, it was just his time,” said his wife Winnie Meyers, who helped him operate the business Bruce founded for many years.

Bruce and Winnie had sold their company just a few months ago to a company called Trousdale Ventures. The announcement of the sale was made at the time by the new company chairman, Phillip Sarofim. Sarofim is a venture capitalist, car collector, and racer with a passion for cool cars. Sarofim named former VW, Audi, and Porsche designer Freeman Thomas as CEO and chief creative officer.

“We sold our business recently,” said Winnie.“And that was wonderful. So that it really was able to close some doors.”

To say Bruce Meyers was a renaissance man would be to limit him. Yes, he was trained in fine arts at Chouinard Art Institute, with a specialty in life drawing, but the traditional renaissance man never surfed, raced in the Baja 1000, or sailed to Tahiti on a trading schooner.

If you took everything that is pure Southern California—surfing, sailing, the beach, some guitar playing, blond hair, the Laguna Beach Arts Festival, even large portions of neighboring Baja, California, Mexico—and poured it all into a huge cultural Cuisinart, out would come Bruce Meyers, driving a Manx.

He was equal parts Raymond Loewy, Carroll Shelby, and Degas all rolled into one and riding a surfboard. And we, the motoring public, are the better for it.

“There are no retired artists,” Meyers once said, during a day at the beach we spent with him 21 years ago.

Trying to quantify Meyers is an enormous undertaking.

He was a war hero, having given his life jacket to a sailor who didn’t have one, then towing an injured pilot through flaming oil slicks for two hours after his ship, the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill, was hit by two kamikazes off Okinawa.

He was a pioneer surfer from the age of hollow wooden boards; as such he served as mentor to budding surf legends Greg Noll and Bing Copeland, among others. He was a sailor who was one of the first to mass-produce boats out of fiberglass (followed by surfboards and, later, his car). He was an off-road racer and one of a very small handful of desert rats who created what came to be known as the Baja 1000. The list could go on and on.

Maybe the two easiest ways to quantify Bruce Meyers are by his most famous creation, the Meyers Manx, incorrectly recorded in history as, simply, the“dune buggy.”

By conservative estimates there are something like 300,000 dune buggies in the world today. The majority of them are knockoffs (or, more accurately, ripoffs) of the first fiberglass-tubbed, Volkswagen-parts-bin Manx that Meyers himself designed and built in a garage in Newport Beach 40 years ago. When he built that first one, he didn’t intend to build an icon of surf culture. He assumed he’d build at most 20 of them, just so he and his buddies would have something to get them and their boards to remote breaks in pavement-free Baja.

“I wasn’t thinking about buggies,” Meyers said.“I just thought,‘What is something that would work well down there [in Baja] that’s cheap to drive?”

If necessity was the mother of the Manx, Meyers was the father. He laid up the first 12 Manxes in fiberglass, slathering the stuff over a wooden buck he made. Since a car with a fiberglass tub (as opposed to the likes of Corvettes with steel chassis and fiberglass bodies) was such a new, untried idea, he kept a gallon of resin and a few yards of woven glass mat with him for the first few months he drove it in case the body break open and he, as he said,“wound up riding on my a**.” He needn’t have bothered as that original car has turned over the odometer a few times and has never even cracked.

“I imagine I’ve got a couple hundred thousand miles on this thing, mostly in Baja. We were there like three weeks out of a month. And we did that for several years. So the car’s got a lot of use.”

On that day many years ago, Meyers let me drive the original Manx, called Big Red. It was my second time behind the wheel, the first being during the Baja 2000 two years prior (Autoweek, Dec. 11, 2000). Old Red, as it’s called, was still sprightly and fun, as fun to drive as it looked like it might be. Even though I ground the gears, all the old Volkswagen pieces kept jumping to life and springing the car forward.

The most durable things are usually the simplest, and the original Manx is simple. After the first 12 he stopped using the big fiberglass tubs for the bodies and built the rest on the shortened chassis of Volkswagen Beetles, because he was so impressed with the Beetle’s engineering.

“It’s a marvelous basic thing. I’ve been weighing aftermarket frames for buggies and they’re never as light as a Volkswagen floorpan. Old Ferdinand [Porsche] was really a sharp guy.”

To make the shape of that original Manx body Meyers drew on his life-drawing experience, trying to imbue it with what he calls“gesture,” and“a sense of motion” that remains even when the car is standing still.

There was more to Meyers than technical expertise.

“Here I was an ex-hot rodder, racing my ’32 Ford roadsters up at the dry lakes, and building fiberglass sailboats and the beach-boy attitude… So you have this kind of a posture of loose craziness. I spent a year building this thing not knowing whether it was going to be profitable or not. That tells you right there that I’m wacko.”

But it was profitable. He made 7,000 of them from 1966 until he lost the copyright protection battle he’d been fighting in court for years and he stopped making Manxes in 1970.

Then there was a gap in his automotive production of 30 years, which is too bad for us. In that time he did some boat and car tooling, made some convertible conversions, and built a house in Baja. But in the back of his mind there was always the Manx. So he came back and built the Manxter 2+2, a four-seater.

The Manxter 2+2 is the natural evolution of the first Manx. Like the original, it’s based on a VW Beetle floorpan, but this one is not shortened. Instead of taking out the 14 inches of floorpan required by the first Manxes, he simply left it all in for this one.

You can still buy a Manx through the company, which is still building and selling the kits. And if you do, take a moment to send a thanks up to the original surfer who came up with the design.

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Re: Bruce Meyers, Creator of the Meyers Manx, Has Passed Away
Posted by: OttawaCorvairGuy ()
Date: February 20, 2021 07:48AM

Written by: Jon Bickford on Facebook

Rest in Play.

One of my favorite people I have ever known passed away today.

A decorated World War Two hero, an entrepreneur, an adventurer, a lover, a joker an absolute character. Best known as the inventor of the Meyers Manx dune buggy he was an awful lot more than that. He created desert off road racing, he created the fiberglass hot tub he invented the racecar bed for kids.

Generally speaking it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but Bruce was young at heart well into his 90’s. When I first met him around 2013 the idea of electric cars was still laughable to him. But in the last couple of years almost every time I saw him he would ask about electric cars.

He wanted to develop a dune buggy chassis that worked with a model 3 rear drive unit. He came to understand the performance advantages but moreover he was concerned about the acidification of the oceans that was being caused by air pollution. As a teenage lifeguard, a merchant marine, a sailor in the pacific fleet, a boat builder, one of the people who helped inspire hobie alter to create the Hobie Cat sailboats, he tried to start an import/export company in Tahiti after the war his love for the ocean was huge and it was his concern for ocean habitats that made him take an interest in electric vehicles.

One of the last times I saw him he was telling me about a new design he called the, “aero manx”. “It looks like a silver bullet, it can carry batteries in the center tunnel and use a tesla motor now that they are becoming so popular.”

I never got to see the sketches for the aero manx and I wish I could have. Recently when Volkswagen released their, “ID.Buggy” concept they flew him out to the New York auto show thinking they wanted to collaborate on an electric buggy, but once they got their publicity photos of him with the car they cancelled the other meetings and that was that.

I had been thinking about him a lot lately. Being in his 90’s visiting during covid wasn’t a great option, but I couldn’t wait to go to dinner and tell him about the racing season I had last year! The first conversation I ever had with him at length was about building an autocross manx and he told me about the corvair powered meyers manx that dominated autocross and slalom in the 60’s and set a record at pike’s peak. He would sometimes tell me I reminded him of a young Bruce Meyers and I do so wish that was true!

I think one of the things I liked best about Bruce was that while he was famous and his life stories are incredible and he loved to tell them, he was every bit as interested in you as you were in him! With me and with hundreds of other people I saw him interact with he was every bit as as excited and interested in hearing about his fans lives and learning about them as they were in his! If someone asked for his autograph he would always say, “you honor me”.

I’ve known quite a few famous people from many walks of life and interactions with their fans are generally one sided. Bruce Meyers was always just as happy to meet you as you were to meet him!

...He also hit on every one of my girlfriends I introduced him to! grinning smiley

One of my favorite people I’ve ever known. You are missed Bruce Meyers.

Written by: Jon Bickford

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/20/2021 07:50AM by OttawaCorvairGuy.

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Re: Bruce Meyers, Creator of the Meyers Manx, Has Passed Away
Posted by: Chilly Willy ()
Date: February 20, 2021 11:32AM

Yes, rest in play...
There are more than few of corvair powered Manx buggies out smiley

The Corvair, Keeping Nader Notorious winking smiley

Northern California

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Re: Bruce Meyers, Creator of the Meyers Manx, Has Passed Away
Posted by: American Mel ()
Date: February 20, 2021 11:47AM

A true legend.
My next project, after my turbo build.
Vair Powered, Authentic, Manx. thumbs up cool smiley thumbs up

WA. state, 1 mile south of the Canadian border, I am not at the end of the world, but you can see it from here.

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Re: Bruce Meyers, Creator of the Meyers Manx, Has Passed Away
Posted by: isucorvair ()
Date: February 23, 2021 06:13AM

I'm a proud owner of a '68 Meyers Manx (authenticated / on the registry).

I got to meet Bruce twice, which I'm grateful for, since I live in the Midwest - once at VW FunFest, and the other at a Bug-In in Minneapolis. We got him to talk about Corvairs - an engine he really enjoyed in the buggies. I've got a pic of him with my 2 daughters, and had him sign the dash for my Manx. It was a 10-hour round trip (in a day) to get the dash signed!

Bruce loved all buggies (now) not just his Manx (Manx 1, 2, Tow'd, SR, and all the new versions) - but - he never would forget to tell you that you had a COPY if it wasn't a true Manx.

Now...I'd post a pic of my buggy, but it looks like a giant model kit at the moment. It will be reverse-rotation 140 Corvair powered.

Eric P.
DeWitt, IA
Iowa Corvair Enthusiasts / Corvair Minnesota / Corvanatics
61 Rampside, 66 Monza AC Vert, 66 AutoX Car, Manx Vair Buggy, Rupp Chevy Jr.

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Re: Bruce Meyers, Creator of the Meyers Manx, Has Passed Away
Posted by: monza67 ()
Date: February 23, 2021 08:17AM

Neither of my Corvair buggies are Meyers Manx buggies, but my Manx clone and Sears Rascal would never have happened without Bruce. Hard to see that my Manx clone is not a true Manx, however when my brother bought the new body from a racer back in 1971, he told him it was a direct splash off of a Manx body. I had a picture of my Sears Rascal with me when I met Bruce in Minneapolis with Eric...he signed the picture and wrote COPY on it. Sorry Bruce that you didn't make any money on my bodies, but I have always had the utmost respect for you and what you created. Someday I will build a real Manx, I hope. RIP Bruce.
Chuck P.
Davenport, IA


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