1961 seems to be the year in which the Americans for the first time think of a dune vehicle based on the VW Beetle. They have left most of the hard times behind and (particularly in California) seem to be crazy enough to realise a car (almost) only for beach use.
By the way, this has a long tradition in the USA, not only with relatively harmless Beetle chassis and engine, but also with more tarted - up specimen. Already here an acceptable weight-to-power ratio comes from 25 - 32 kW of engine power, considering the lowest tare weight of approx. 600 kg. Basically one just uses the Beetle`s advantage of pretty good stability that he has even without roof. The screwed-together central tubular frame makes work at not too scruffy vehicles a bit easier. Once the car body is removed, one only has to mount fuel tank and steering column and can drive off right away.
But be careful, the rear centrifuge effect is substantial. Therefore, the reasonable buggies have unreasonably wide wheels in the rear whose procurement at that time demanded most of the amateur handicraftsman`s organisation talent. The rest is fiberglass-reinforced plastic and a mostly straight windscreen. The roof is not more than just a piece of cloth. Fun is in the main issue, not comfort.
A famous Meyers-Manx-buggy is the one by Bruce Meyers (pictures 1 and 2) who actually deals with fiberglass boats. The basic idea is to already own a Beetle and to buy the new extras only. These articles are sold at a relatively reasonable price, in the USA for approx. 500 dollars and in the Netherlands for less than 2000 guilders.
It`s the german safety standards authority (TÜV) that creates problems. They need to have a manufacturer`s certificate to prove that the properly shortened frame stands the strain. Luckily VW cooperate even though they don`t really like the mutilation of their world-famous Beetle. It takes quite a while until a solution appropriate for TÜV is found. However, it reduces the vehicle`s sleekness.
The VW magazine „Gute Fahrt“ (Safe journey) and the vehicle manufacturer Karmann take some special credit for the Buggy. As a result, the assembly kit, including the roof, can be purchased for just 3000 DM and there are co- competitors as well. However, during the years to come the superstructures based on the Beetle become uncountable (picture 5). Sporty snouts and Bugatti-replicas top off the picture. 04/10