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History Page
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Dune Buggy Page.jpg
1- The Dune Buggy Craze...  |    2- EMPI Imp  |    3- EMPI Sportster  |    4- MEYER MANX Buggies  |    5- Ugly Machines...  |

THE DUNE BUGGY CRAZE...

No Nostalgia site would be complete without a little corner devoted to Dune Buggies. It's been a while I have discovered the story of these little fiberglass bodies and enjoyed the variety of their shapes...

I looked through my old literature and found awesome machines, that's why I decided to compile this little section... Without surprise, I want to highlight the EMPI machines, but I will of course devote some words to the real pionner Bruce MEYER.

But for now, enjoy this mega cool paper entitled "Roadster for the '70s" written way back in September 1970 issue of the U.S. mag HOT ROD. This article definitely shows what made the Dune Buggies so popular in the days... Enjoy!
"In an age of mass comsumerism, a generation of young Americans conduct a constant, almost frantic, search for individuality. This quest is reflected in a life style punctuated by extremes in dress, social behavior, entertainment and personal transportation.

Since the early thirties, the mechanically minded young at heart of this country have been deply inlvolved in changing the motor car from a piece of drab functional hardware to a gondola offering fashion, freedom and limited function.

By the late forties, the practice of do-it-yourself personalizing had come close to an art of form. The showing was on the streets and the shape was the '32 Ford roadster. Drag racing and customizing served the street roadster gang as continuous influences on styling and motive power.

By 1963, when Bruce MEYERS built the first Manx, small cars were "in", Volkswagens were already as plentiful as fleas on 3 dollars dog. Overnight, fiberglass kit cars offered the verve, the availability and the pratically of construction never reached by the '32 Ford.

There was a certain allure to be thought that the dinged and dented VW body could be yanked off and replaced by a fiberglass shell. Low cost, availability of VW components and a minimum of work produced a lot of sales.

In an effort to put more weight on the rear wheels, and in turn boost tractive ability in the sand, the wheelbase of the VW was shortened 14 inches. As wider tyres became available, the discovery was made that the floorpan kit car was not the plan for the sand or other then casual driving. So on the street they went by the thousands - complete with shortened pans. Now the only valid reason for shortening the pan for a kit car going on the street is that the vast majority of bodies offered today are copies of the original Meyer Manx and thus fit only shortened floorplan. Some will argue that the shortened wheelbase gives greater maneuverability. No doubt. But too often a hasty combination of light weight , short wheelbase, swing axle and bulbous tires results in a quick-steering vehicle which is capable of understeer and oversteer at the same time.


If your are interested in such a project, take a close look at the motor vehicle law of your state before lying out coins on components. (...) In an effort to boost eastern sales, several companies (such as Meyers, EMPI, Berry and Jeffries) have tailored models with full coverage fenders and engine covers. A heads-up accessory store in your state will be able to guide you in the selection of taillightts, headlights, etc., which comply with state laws.

(...) Most manufacturers offer bodies in any solid color and in most of the metalflakes finishes. For the most part, upholstery is on a custom basis, with the sky being the limit for an all-out street car. However, like the selection of chrome goodies, the bucket seat selection goes on and on. On most bodies there is a choice of hard or soft top designs, and side curtains can be fabricated.

In fact, there seems to be no end to the number of things which can be and are done to a dune buggy. Ask any owner. The Dune buggy will never replace the '32 Ford, but for a generation seeking a snappy, breeze in the air fun car, the dune buggy fits the bill reasonably well. On the West coast, most of the avant garde buggistas - those who built buggies 5 nd 6 years ago - are now turning their efforts toward the VW Sedan."



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E-mail : ldubois@calixo.net