Bruce Meyers: Father Of The Dune Buggy Has Died

Meyers Manx creator Bruce Meyers has died at the age of 94. The Meyers Manx was synonymous with the definition of what a dune buggy was and still is. His full life included not only building up the Meyers Manx company but included surfing, racing the Baja 1000, and sailing to Tahiti on a trading schooner. 

Bruce Meyers pioneered fiberglass boards, boats, and then the Manx

Bruce Meyers Manx Dune Buggy
Bruce Meyers Manx Dune Buggy | Getty

A war hero, he pulled an injured pilot to safety after everyone abandoned the USS Bunker Hill when kamikazes blew up the ship. His surfing exploits inspired surfers like the legendary Greg Noll and Bing Copeland. While starting with hollow wooden boards, he pioneered fiberglass boards, boats, and then the Meyers Manx. He was one of the racers behind starting the Baja 1000 race. 

But the Meyers Manx dune buggy was his greatest creation. Estimates put the number of Manx roadsters at more than 300,000. Of those, the majority were Manx knock-offs which Meyers was never able to stop. The molds were relatively simple to make bodies and the design too popular and easy to make to stop the wave of copies. 

He built over 7,000 Meyers Manx bodies from 1966 to 1970

Meyers Manx bodies glistening in the sun
Meyers Manx dune buggy bodies | Meyers Manx

He built over 7,000 Meyers Manx bodies from 1966 to 1970 from his shop in Newport Beach, California. During that time he battled for copyright protection to no avail, losing the last of the court cases in 1970. By then there were so many knock-offs from big companies down to one or two in someone’s garage being pumped out. It was just too big to stop it. 

Meyers wanted something cheap and easy to build, as well as a fun buggy he and a few friends could take out and have some thrills with. He had no intention of making it a business or expected it would take off the way it did in the mid-1960s. He laid up the first 12 fiberglass Manx tubs and never looked back. 

Though trained in art school life-drawing he put those skills to good use designing the Manx. Meyers was taken by how sturdy yet light the Volkswagen Beetle pan was and used a shortened version for his Manx foundation. His own Manx has seen hundreds of thousands of miles of use. He was known to frequent Baja three weeks out of every month to thrash his Manx without it ever cracking or damaging the body.

In the early-2000s Meyers created the Manxter 2+2

Manxster 2+2 creation
Manxter 2+2 dune buggy currently available from the company | Meyers Manx

After losing his copyright cases he quit making the Manx. Over the next 30 years, he wore many hats professionally while building himself a house for himself and his wife Winnie, in Baja, Mexico. But he was always thinking about another Manx and in the early-2000s created the Manxter 2+2.

The Manxter 2+2 is a more refined version of the original Manx. It is also a four-place car still attached to a Volkswagen Beetle pan. But this time the pan didn’t need to be shortened. You can see it is a modern interpretation of the original Manx, yet more practical with its stock Beetle wheelbase. And it has sold well. 

Kits and complete Manxter buggies are still available

Bruce Meyers Manx Dune Buggy
Bruce Meyers Manx Dune Buggy | Getty

Where Have All the Dune Buggies Gone?

Meyers recently sold this business but both kits and complete Manxter buggies are still available. Many are using Subaru six-cylinder pancake engines for a more modern and more powerful alternative to the old air-cooled Volkswagen engines. 

In many ways Bruce Meyers was the personification of what a Californian is. Obsessed with surf, sand, and mobility, with an entrepreneurial spirit and sense of style. Meyers was an inspiration to many of those he came in contact with, and he’ll be missed.