Ebene Magazine – Bruce Meyers, creator of the fiberglass dune buggy that powered off-road driving, dies

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Ebene Magazine - Bruce Meyers, creator of the fiberglass dune buggy that powered off-road driving, dies

Bruce Meyers was on Pismo Beach on California’s Central Coast one afternoon in 1963 when he saw something that had blown him and changed his life: a handful of old, stripped-down cars bobbing on the sand. </ It would be fun to get behind the wheel, thought Meyers, if only they weren't so ugly and didn't seem so uncomfortable. He built his own solution: a “dune buggy” made of lightweight fiberglass, which is mounted on four oversized tires with two bug-eyed-looking headlights and a dazzling bright paint job.

The result would both become an overnight sensation for the automotive industry as well as becoming one of the talismans of California’s surfing culture, especially when he created a space in the back for a surfboard. He named the vehicle the Meyers Manx and it transformed the friendly, softly spoken Meyers into a revered figure among off-roaders, surfers and car enthusiasts.

Meyers, who built thousands of dune buggies in his life, died on February 19th in his House in San Diego, said his wife Winnie Meyers. He was 94 years old.

Meyers also designed boats and surfboards, worked as an advertising artist and lifeguard, toured the world surfing and sailing, built a trading post in Tahiti, and even survived a Japanese Kamikaze attack on his Navy during World War II -Aircraft carrier, the USS Bunker Hill.

Bruce Franklin Meyers was born on March 12, 1926 in Los Angeles to a businessman and mechanic who opened car dealerships for his friend Henry Ford.

Raised near As popular surfing spots in Southern California as the beaches of Newport, Hermosa and Manhattan, it was surfing, not the car, that initially fascinated Meyers, who liked to call himself the original beach-goer.

He dropped out of high school and entered the navy one. He was on board Bunker Hill when it was attacked on May 11, 1945 near Okinawa, Japan. When the fire raged on board the ship, he jumped overboard and once handed his lifebuoy to someone who needed it more and helped save others.

Later, his wife said, he returned to the ship and helped them Removing the bodies of the nearly 400 seafarers killed.

After the war, he served in the Merchant Marine and attended the Chouinard Art Institute, now part of the California Institute of the Arts.

He began building boats and learned to shape light but robust fiberglass. This experience gave him skills that he would use when building the first dune buggies. He built his first 12 mostly for himself and his friends and decades later drove the number 1, which he called Old Red.

He and his friends got into surfing on the rougher and less crowded beaches of Mexico’s Baja California fell in love and they thought a Meyers Manx would be perfect for driving over and around the area’s sand dunes.

« All I wanted to do was go surfing in Baja when I was building the dang thing », he told broadcaster Huell Howser when he took the host of Public Television’s « California Gold » show for a spin in Old Red in 2001.

Those first dozen cars were built without a chassis, axles, suspension, and more holds important parts of a vehicle’s chassis in place. Not having one made the car lighter, but it was illegal to drive on public roads.

Meyers began chassising his models and developing kits that people initially buy and sell for $ 985 could build their own cars.

However, what really boosted sales was when Meyers and friends brought Old Red to Mexico in 1967 and won a 1,000-mile off-road race that drivers took through steep ravines over soft sand and other obstacles. Old Red won in record time and broke the previous mark by more than five hours.

Soon afterwards, the road race was officially known as the Mexican 1,000 – since then renamed the Baja 1,000 – and when a dune buggy built by Meyers won it, they went too Orders included.

In total, BF Meyers & Co. built more than 6,000 Meyers Manx dune buggies. Despite branding the design, it was easy to borrow, and deep pocketed competitors sold more than 250,000 imitators.

Meyers was fed up with losing control of his invention. In 1971 he closed his company and moved on to other things. Once, his wife said, he sailed to Tahiti with a wealthy sponsor and built and operated a trading post.

He and his wife started the auto business again in 1999. At that time there were dune buggy clubs around the world. They sold the company to a venture capital firm last year.

When asked over the years what the dune buggy was about that fascinated the public, Meyers said several things had contributed to its success.

One of them was the bright colors and the big tires of the cars, which gave them almost a comic look. Another was the flat surface of the fenders, which was a perfect place to have a beer. There was also the spot on the back that was designed for a surfboard.

He and others noted that this fascinated people at a time when California surfing culture was being glorified in movies and songs.

That Car with Elvis Presley at the wheel can be seen in the opening credits of the 1968 film « Live a little, love a little ». To this day, children play with Meyer’s Manx Hot Wheels.

Road and Track Magazine stated in 1976: “The Manx must be considered one of the most significant and influential cars of all time. It started more fads, attracted more imitators … and was recognized as a real sculpture, a work of art. “

In addition to his wife, Meyers has a daughter, Julie Meyers. Two children, Georgia and Tim, preceded him in death.

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