You Can Build This Fun Car for $635!

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From the April 1967 challenge of Automotive and Driver.

The Meyers Manx is all issues to all males. Our first glimpse of 1 was from immediately astern, and it seemed like some type of loopy scout automotive, a mixed-up command car. Its maker senses in it one thing of the basic character of Mercer Race­abouts and Apperson Jackrabbits. No two of its 250-odd house owners see it precisely the identical method.

The outside sorts say it is excellent for pack journeys and searching expedi­tions. Sizzling-rodders hail it because the re­incarnation of the road roadster. Kooky women suppose it is kinky, or is it vice versa? Annoyed executives cannot resolve if it is higher suited as a station automotive or as an escape module. Surfers swear it is the woody of the longer term. Sober, pragmatic males rationalize their ardour for it by inform­ing themselves that it is a smart, low-cost, all-purpose utility run­about. Motorcyclists permit as the way it’s nearly nearly as good as having two bikes. Sports activities-car lovers say it delivers extra pleasure per pound than a Ferrari GTO. Pontiac GTO house owners attempt to look the opposite method . . . unsuccessfully. And dune buggy rac­ers say it is the tip. The one factor all of them agree on is that it is extra soul-freeing, leaping, bounding, uninhibited enjoyable than the rest they’ve ever pushed—on or off the street. We’ll purchase that.

Automotive and Driver

The Meyers Manx is the right reply for the person who’d fairly roll his personal. It is a equipment automotive. It prices $635, plus no matter it’s important to spend for the Volkswagen components mandatory to finish it, plus labor—until you do it your self. It isn’t troublesome to assemble; any man with common mechanical capability might do the job over a few weekends. And for energy: Volkswagen, Cor­vair, Porsche—you identify it.

That is one of many nice issues concerning the Meyers Manx—its solely limitation is your personal creativeness. You should buy the fundamental equipment (there’s an much more fundamental, stripped equipment for $498), pay $100 for a wrecked VW, throw it collectively and neglect it, or you may construct it up with all new components and tender loving care. It is your selection—all the way in which as much as a 200-hp engine, metalflake paint job, luxurious inside, onerous high, aspect curtains, magazine wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, totally adjustable suspension, and racing tires.

The Meyers Manx is the automotive for the person who’s fed up with sellers, wheelers, factory-installed choices he would not need, trade-ins, reductions, excessive strain, onerous promote—the entire bag. About half the purchasers of B. F. Meyers and Firm are drained businessmen who purchase a Manx to place collectively of their spare time, a proj­ect they suppose will take their thoughts off their work. They are saying they’re going to give it to the youngsters as a gift once they’re completed, however like electrical trains at Christmastime, they cannot let go. The children do not see a lot of the Manx that Daddy constructed, nor of Daddy, for that matter—he is off blowing his thoughts on some winding nation street.

That is one other wonderful thing about the Meyers Manx. It is an actual automotive. You’ll be able to license it, and insure it, and drive it wherever, anytime. With the highest and aspect curtains in place, it is as cosy and watertight as any little imported roadster. You’ll be able to hook up the heater and make all of it heat and toasty in sub-zero climate. With snow tires, it’s going to undergo blizzards that will cease a snowmobile in its tracks. With tremendous­-balloons, it’s going to mud dunes with the very best four-wheel-drive Jeeps and Bron­cos. And with racing tires, it’s going to out­deal with and outbrake any sports activities automotive we have ever examined.

Automotive and Driver

Though the Manx was initially designed as a dune buggy, it is equal­ly at house on pavement. One of many maker’s favourite methods to demon­strate the mountain-goat agility of the Manx is to drive it onto a kind of 45-degree cobblestone slopes below a freeway bridge. The demonstrator steers the Manx straight up below the girders, racks the wheel over, and leaves it racing round in a small circle up there on the steep incline prefer it was gyro-stabilized, whereas the passenger hangs on for expensive, candy life. This act is normally adopted by a leap off a precipice onto and throughout a subject of basketball-­sized rocks, overland to the seaside, a fast tour at terrifying angles over the sand dunes, then right down to the water’s edge to hurry alongside, taking part in tag with the waves, and eventually—­mercifully—house once more.

We managed to keep up our equi­librium throughout this part of the take a look at, however actually received unhinged once we slipped behind the wheel for the panic cease from 80 mph. It squeaked to a halt in an unbeliev­in a position 204 toes, or 1.05 g—the type of efficiency you solely look forward to finding in a Chaparral. Unimaginable! No less than with inventory Volkswagen brakes, we thought, and tried once more. Hmmm, 210 toes (1.02 g). Every little thing was checked. Once more: 207 toes (1.03 g).

The Manx’s dealing with is troublesome to explain, however in a phrase, it is fast. It is like sporting a pair of pants—you flip, it turns. It darts fairly than steers, and it sticks like mad. Understeer it is received, however after sending all our devices off scale at effectively over 1.00 g, we gave up making an attempt to make it break traction and slide.

One Corvair-powered Manx is the scourge of the gymkhana circuits, having gained the Southern California autocross championship two years operating—together with taking 22 occasions in a row—towards all comers: Co­bras, Lotus Tremendous Sevens, and all. One other Manx gained some type of nutball race over rock trails within the Colorado foothills. A inventory Manx might most likely win the Large Bear bike enduro outright, if it was eligible. In truth, one four-wheel-drive membership outlawed the Manx from its dune races as a result of the Manx has solely two-wheel drive, which the out­raged membership members mentioned gave it an unfair benefit. Bitter dune grapes.

Automotive and Driver

However the Manx’s biggest victory­—the legend that will probably be handed from era to era—was ultimately 12 months’s Pikes Peak hillclimb. Ted Trevor, proprietor of the Crown Manu­facturing Firm, maker of kits to adapt Corvair engines to Manxes, Volkswagens, and Porsches, towed his racing Manx from California to Colorado along with his avenue Manx. Don Wilcox, who had by no means seen the hill earlier than, certified Trevor’s Corvair­-powered Manx over the quick course in 6:03.4. Operating within the under-305-cubic-inch sports-car class, the Manx was quicker than all of the sports activities automobiles, in­cluding Ak Miller’s undefeated 427 Cobra Package Particular, and quicker than all however seven of the extremely particular­ized Championship hillclimb automobiles. Through the race itself, Wilcox was handily forward of Miller’s time, and virtually within reach of the end, when a line fell off the gas pump. Wilcox hopped out, ran to a cellphone, and referred to as Trevor down initially line, urging him to race the road automotive—only for kicks. Trevor jumped into the heavier, less-powerful avenue Manx and gained the category by a 22-second margin. Shaken, USAC abol­ished the sports-car class for 1967.

Bruce F. Meyers, 40, sole propri­etor of Bruce F. Meyers and Com­pany, is the originator, designer, and builder of the Meyers Manx. Meyers is probably essentially the most gifted fiberglass artist ever to work in that troublesome medium. He had constructed a 42-foot fiberglass catamaran, the “Hinano,” along with his naked fingers, and was in search of new designs to beat. He had bought his outdated, beat-up Volkswagen to purchase an outdated, beat-up Porsche from a man in Texas, who had uncared for to inform him that the automotive had been rolled and its chassis was considerably out of alignment. Okay, mentioned Bruce F. Meyers, I am going to construct my very own rattling automotive.

Thus, the Meyers Manx was born, and suitably adorned with a tremendous es­cutcheon: a rampant Manx cat hoisting aloft a boring, chipped sword. The primary Manx was a full fiberglass bathtub carrying Volkswagen run­ning gear, and it was as robust as a redwood stump. Up to date dune buggies, principally constructed from sheet metal and having no compound curves, had been ugly as sin. Bruce F. Meyers, being an artist with fiber­glass, designed the best-looking dune buggy ever. He and his fairly, zany spouse Shirley (who was on the time an promoting assistant at R— & T—-, which is why we have not informed this story sooner), drove proudly round Newport Seaside, exhibiting off the Manx to all their buddies. All their buddies wished a replica, and talked him into constructing extra. So Bruce F. Meyers arrange store in an outdated storage, and started promoting Manx kits at $985 every.

Bruce F. Meyers could also be a fantastic artist, however he’s no nice enterprise­man, so it was a while earlier than he found that he was shedding cash on every automotive he bought. At this level, he received some very large provides from professional­spective producers, principally com­petitors who had been promoting infe­rior buggies till the Manx stole their gross sales. Bruce F. Meyers could also be no nice businessman, however he’s a perfectionist. He wished to construct Manxes himself in order that he might make sure that they had been being constructed proper. It was a while earlier than he discov­ered simply the correct answer. The Mark II Manx is just not a full fiberglass bathtub, though it nonetheless seems like one; it is a fiberglass physique that bolts onto a Volkswagen bellypan. This resulted in a shorter, stiffer, higher driving, higher dealing with, lighter, stronger, cheaper Manx, and Meyers the perfectionist was happy.

Automotive and Driver

Nearly. He wish to market the Manx as a accomplished automotive (in addition to a equipment), constructed to the shopper’s precise specs, however he cannot be­trigger Volkswagen will not promote him Beetles with out our bodies. Assembling all of the items from the VW components bin would run the labor prices up too excessive, and Bruce F. Meyers is not the type of man who would promote you a automotive constructed from components scrounged from wrecks (not until he checked ev­erything, proper right down to the final nut and bolt). Perhaps a fantastic enterprise­man would promote you a automotive like that, however not Bruce F. Meyers.

So the Meyers Manx is barely avail­in a position as a equipment automotive, and destined to re­primary so till Volkswagen relents­—if it ever does. (Volkswagen would not promote sub-assemblies to anyone ex­cept a small firm making VW-­based mostly mail vehicles for the German authorities.) In the meantime, it is prob­ably simply as effectively; the individuals who have put Manx kits collectively have beloved each minute of it. It is a type of occupational remedy; there’s nothing just like the delight you may soak up one thing you constructed your self.

The $498 Manx equipment consists of a superbly completed, laminated fiber­glass physique shell and entrance deck lid, and a vacuum-formed Cycolac sprint­board. The $635 equipment consists of the above, plus windshield and body, headlight housings, cowl body, rear deck cowl, aluminum trim, rubber weatherstripping, fender welts, and all the mandatory {hardware}. The one work on the physique consists of sanding the fender edges and drilling a number of holes. The colour is impregnated into the fiberglass; you may decide from Tangerine Crimson, Royal Blue, Yuma Yellow, Marine Inexperienced, or Off White as normal colours.

Making ready the VW chassis to re­ceive the Manx physique is a bit more concerned, as a result of it should be quick­ened 14¼ inches. This may be completed with a torch, chisel or perhaps a hack­noticed, however chances are high you may wish to have it completed by the identical those who should weld it again collectively for you, after all of the cables and such contained in the spine tunnel are quick­ened the corresponding quantity.

Automotive and Driver

From there on in, it is a snap, be­trigger all of the VW stuff bolts proper in, both to its authentic mounts or to mounts supplied within the Manx. Even the inventory VW wiring harness is used. So far, Meyers has bought 245 of those kits, plus 12 of the outdated automobiles, making B. F. Meyers and Firm Amer­ica’s seventh-largest auto maker (after Basic Motors, Ford, Chrys­ler, American, Shelby, and Checker), and Manxes are being cranked out on the charge of three a day to fulfill closely backlogged orders.

The Manx we examined had been put collectively by Meyers himself and is one thing of a rolling showcase. There are fancier Manxes round, and loads of quicker ones. A well-­identified “millionaire-sportsman” is having one constructed with a 210-horse­energy Porsche Carrera 6 engine and a five-speed gearbox. The health club­khana championship automotive is pow­ered by a hopped-up, turbocharged Corvair engine and might flip over 100 mph within the quarter-mile. Bruce’s private Manx is a bit obese, being one of many early prototypes, and it is powered by a drained outdated push­rod Porsche engine Bruce picked up someplace for $650. Its operating gear and transmission are inventory VW, excluding the wheels and tires (a Porsche gearbox might be used, however is not on this automotive).

Because of the Manx’s distinctive styling, nearly any mixture of wheel and tire could also be used. Bruce’s Manx has outlandishly giant Goodyear Formulation One tires snitched from the Honda workforce, and the wide-rim wheels bought as an choice for the automotive. The paint job, a blinding metallic­flake gold, can also be an choice, as are the fiberglass hardtop, the aspect cur­tains, and the roll bar. Usually, VW seats and devices are re­tained, however Bruce’s automotive has Triumph Spitfire seats and Porsche instru­ments. There are additionally a number of off­-the-road choices, like twin rear handbrakes for steering the facility to the wheel that has traction within the sand, air-lift shocks on the again for fast adjustments in camber and floor clearance, and a tool for fast adjustment of the entrance torsion bar angle. Bruce’s Manx additionally sports activities a wooden shift knob and a wood-rim steering wheel.

This Manx, specifically, was dif­ficult to get into or out of as a result of the windshield has been minimize down three inches for a extra rakish ap­pearance, and the steering column lowered an inch on the cowl for a sportier driving place. The Tri­umph seats are tilted barely aft, making them one hundred pc extra consolation­in a position than as positioned within the Spit­fireplace, however their angle additionally sophisticated entry and exit. It is nonetheless simpler than, say, clambering into an Excalibur SS or a Lotus Seven. Anyway, not having any doorways makes for an ex­tremely rattle-free construction, which in any other case won’t be the case.

Automotive and Driver

The inside is surprisingly roomy, with greater than ample room for 2 folks and, on the carpeted shelf behind them, their baggage. There’s a recess within the shelf for the spare tire, however not one of the skilled Manx house owners carries one. There may be so little weight on the entrance finish that the automotive may be pushed to a service station with out damaging a flat entrance tire. If a rear tire blows, it is merely swapped for one of many fronts. Because the VW floorpan is shortened behind the entrance seats, legroom is at the very least equal to the VW’s. With the Spitfire seats, it’s measurably higher.

The Manx’s aerodynamics are poor, and high-gear acceleration above 70 mph is gradual with the 88-hp Porsche engine. Many Manx house owners use the 1500-cc engine from VW transporters and ’67 Beetles and might outdig the Porsche-engined automotive as much as 50 mph. One of the best compromise appears to be a VW engine with Corvair barrels and pistons, a 1700-cc setup that provides very excessive torque within the low pace ranges, and sufficient on the high finish to cruise simply at 80 mph. Even a Manx with an outdated 25-hp Beetle en­gine strikes out fairly neatly be­trigger the automotive weighs a 3rd lower than the Volkswagen sedan.

Bruce’s automotive had a surprisingly tender and supple experience, contemplating the stiffness of the Goodyear racing tires. Nearly any mixture of experience and dealing with is feasible. Along with the just about infinite com­binations of wheels and tires, there may be quite a lot of different-rate torsion bars from the VW components catalog, dif­ferent anti-sway bars (or the For­mula V trick of uncoupling the up­per torsion bar peg in order that it acts like an anti-sway bar), and a variety of shock absorbers and han­dling gear from outdoors sup­pliers, like Ted Trevor—he of the Pikes Peak assault—and his Crown Manufacturing Firm (651 W. 17 St., Costa Mesa, Calif.). Trevor, working in shut conjunction with Meyers, developed the twin rear handbrake and plenty of particular sus­pension items, in addition to the Cor­vair conversion kits.

meyers manx

Automotive and Driver

One merchandise sorely missed on Bruce’s automotive was the rear bumper. It is a pretty sturdy one, out there as an choice and strongly beneficial, however was off the take a look at automotive for chroming. The Manx’s solely sensible disadvantage is the truth that it is so open. The engine hanging below the tail is likely to be a temptation should you left it parked in a nasty neighborhood, however few automobiles have locking engine compartments any­method. You can mount a lock on the entrance decklid to maintain your valuables secure, however in any other case you may should take them with you.

In order that’s Bruce F. Meyers and his Manx. You can duplicate the one proven right here for lower than $2500. You can construct a significantly much less in­teresting one for as little as $800, or an all-out model for as a lot as $4000. Irrespective of the way you slice the cheese, if ever there was a greater mousetrap, this has received to be it. Just a little scout automotive with the efficiency of a sports activities automotive. A dune duster that is as sensible as any avenue roadster ever constructed. An off-the-road car that handles on pavement like a racing automotive. A pushrod Porsche­-powered bug with the acceleration of a 911. A VW-based equipment with high quality and workmanship to match the Beetle itself. A do-it-yourself proj­ect which you can get serviced any­the place. Transportation that is each sensible and enjoyable. If Rommel had had these items within the North Afri­can marketing campaign, it may need been Monty who was pinned to the desert flooring at El Alamein.

Do your self a favor. This spring, construct a Meyers and put a bit Manx in your life.

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