- known as the original dune buggy, the meyers manx was conceived by boat builder bruce meyers as a lightweight alternative to four-wheel-drive trucks, which tended to get stuck in the california sand.
- steve mcqueen modified a manx for his high-speed beach driving scene in the 1968 film the thomas crown affair with faye dunaway, and the bonhams auction house will be selling it next march.
- c/d tested a manx like it—a much slower one—for our april 1967 issue.
ordinarily we wouldn't take credit for steve mcqueen's success, but in the case of the meyers manx he drove in the thomas crown affair, c/d beat mr. bullitt to the screen by more than a year by featuring the california dune buggy on our cover. now mcqueen's manx is going on the block, destined like his porsches to bring in megamillions, or at least hundreds of thousands, while our pristine april 1967 issue sits on our desks worth all of the original 60 cents.
bonhams will auction the movie car from the original thomas crown affair with mcqueen and faye dunaway (there was also a 1999 remake with pierce brosnan and rene russo) next march at the amelia island concours d'elegance. mcqueen's film hit the box office in june 1968, and of course his movie manx was hot-rodded to the extreme. the manx, built by the father of all dune buggies, bruce meyers, featured a fiberglass body atop a shortened volkswagen beetle chassis and running gear. with the help of both car and driver—manx told us in 2006 that “once that article hit, we had 350 orders almost overnight”—and his wife, who worked at road & track, meyers's manx went from from socal experiment to national craze. there are only 5000 original examples, and since it's a kit that sold for just a few hundred dollars, no two are exactly alike.
our test manx had a 1.6-liter pushrod porsche flat-four making 88 horsepower, a four-speed vw beetle manual transmission, tires from a honda formula 1 race car, seats from a triumph spitfire, double hand brakes, and an air lift out back to quickly adjust camber and ride height. we hit 60 mph in 9.1 seconds and the quarter-mile in 16.6 seconds at 78 mph, and we loved every last minute in this street-legal deathtrap. (remember, nhtsa was formed only a year earlier, and safety regs had barely taken effect.) we also put an attractive couple in swimsuits on the beach for the photo shoot.
mcqueen's manx used a corvair flat-six good for 230 horsepower—and, what do you know, the man flew on screen, driving into birds, off dunes, and doing whatever else he damn well wanted to. this was a movie, and he was not actually a bank thief, but anyone watching knew that blond, long-legged man with the short shorts was the real mcqueen.
any other manx wouldn't fetch much more than $40,000, provided the seller could document the car from the 70 other companies at the time building fakes, knockoffs, and copycats. we're glad we were there with mcqueen to ignite america's real affair with these high-powered, home-built vw buggies.