Manx Dune Buggy

How do you up­date a clas­sic with­out ru­in­ing its essence? This 1970 Mey­ers Manx Dune Buggy man­ages to be both mod­ern and time­less.

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Mod­ern and time­less

The term ‘dune buggy’ has be­come a catchall name for just about any lit­tle open-topped, open-wheeled recre­ational ve­hi­cle. When anoraks re­fer to a dune buggy, how­ever, they usu­ally mean the Manx cre­ated by Bruce Mey­ers. Mey­ers didn’t quite in­vent the con­cept, but for many, a Manx is the quin­tes­sen­tial buggy. Hav­ing built boats from fi­bre­glass, Mey­ers ap­plied the same idea to dune bug­gies, and cre­ated a light and fun lit­tle recre­ational ve­hi­cle that was sur­pris­ingly ca­pa­ble off-road.

Now, while there is a cer­tain retro cool­ness to a Manx buggy, some would ar­gue that it is a bit dowdy by mod­ern stan­dards; more chil­dren’s toy than race car. En­ter Derek Jenk­ins and his very mod­ern Manx. Jenk­ins is a true petrol­head. He’s worked as Volk­swa­gen’s chief de­signer at the com­pany’s Cal­i­for­nia De­sign Cen­tre and as Mazda Amer­ica’s di­rec­tor of de­sign. He grew up in the south­ern Cal­i­for­nia scene, where the Manx was adored, and in­deed, it’s clear that he’s used the dune buggy as in­spi­ra­tion on oc­ca­sion. His 2004 Volk­swa­gen Con­cept T was a clever up­date of the buggy idea.

As you’d ex­pect, he owns a Manx buggy. He has a 1970 Manx that he has turned into one very mod­ern recre­ational ve­hi­cle, while re­tain­ing the essence of the orig­i­nal buggy. The body is orig­i­nal 1970 Manx, though he’s trimmed the fen­der lips to suit the styling he was in­ter­ested in. The look of the ve­hi­cle was in­spired by mod­ern cars like the Ariel Atom and Lo­tus Elise, and also by Du­cati mo­tor­cy­cles. The fuel cap on the Manx is from a Du­cati. The ex­posed side pan­els, as well as the floor, were cre­ated from car­bon fi­bre.

Un­der the bon­net, the Manx boasts a 1.8-litre Volk­swa­gen SCAT en­gine that’s been mated to a stan­dard four-speed VW Type 1 gear­box. Stop­ping power is pro­vided by Kar­mann Ghia brakes. The sus­pen­sion set-up con­sists of a Volk­swa­gen tor­sion bar ball-joint front-end and a VW tor­sion bar in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion. The buggy has 16-inch rims at the front shod with 205/40 R16 rub­ber and 17-inch ones at the rear with 245/55 R17 tyres.

The in­side of a Manx buggy is gen­er­ally quite aus­tere, but Jenk­ins im­proved his Manx by adding 550 Spy­der replica seats with leather/al­can­tara trim and Momo har­nesses. The ve­hi­cle also has a Momo steer­ing wheel, a spiffy shifter and mod­ern gauges with car­bon fi­bre faces.

Although Jenk­ins is happy with his cre­ation, he ad­mits that he prob­a­bly would have cre­ated a more ex­treme ve­hi­cle were he to do it all over again. Specif­i­cally, he’d want to re­place the SCAT mo­tor with a Subaru Boxer one that’s mated to a tur­bocharger. With that sort of set-up, the ve­hi­cle would be able to de­liver around 225kW. In a ve­hi­cle as small and light as a Manx, that would be quite some­thing...

Text: GG van Rooyen Pho­tos: Robert Ke­rian for Su­per Street Net­work

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