Sadly, the off-road world lost another icon last week. Friday Morning, Bruce Meyers, inventor of the Meyers Manx, passed away at his home in Valley Center, California, at the age of 94. Bruce is survived by his beloved wife Winnie. Our condolences go out to her as well as the rest of Bruce’s family and friends of which there are many. Born on March 12, 1926, Bruce received accolades in the off-road world over his lifetime, including inspiring the ubiquitous Volkswagen-based dune buggy. His interests, drive, and vision helped form the off-road lifestyle, thanks to his love of exploration of the deserts and beaches of California and the hallowed ground that is the peninsula of Baja. His pastimes included surfing, sailing, guitar/ukulele playing, and more. Bruce was also an artist, boat builder, vehicle inventor, and engineer. In the early ’60s, he literally broke the mold with his Meyers Manx—the first production VW Beetle-based buggy—a design that has lasted (on and off) for nearly 70 years and spilled over into popular culture, movies, cartoons, music, toys, and more.
The first of Bruce’s buggies, what would later be considered the first Meyers Manx, was built at his old garage in Newport Beach, California. “Old Red”, as the first car was known, used much of an old VW floor pan, retaining much of the Volkswagen drivetrain and suspension with the addition of a sweepingly stylistic and lightweight fiberglass body. This yielded a fast, nimble, and reliable off-road vehicle that allowed Bruce and buddy Ted Mangels (as amateurs) to drive the car from La Paz to Tijuana in 1967. They set a record for this trip, completing it nearly 5 hours faster than professional motorcyclists. This drew attention that led to the formation of the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA), which promoted the very first official Baja race, the Mexican 1000, later in 1967. That first official race was won by Ted Mangels and Vic Wilson in a factory-supported Meyers Manx, now a production vehicle. From there, B. F. Meyers & Co., Meyers Manx, Inc., and Meyers Manx LLC., commercially produced several models of Meyers Manx built between 1964 and 1971 and then later from 1999 to the present. For more info, please see the following article from Four Wheeler (here: https://www.fourwheeler.com/news/meyers-manx-company-sold/) and from the Off-Road Motorsports Hall Of Fame, a group which Bruce was inducted into in 1978: https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Remembering-Bruce-Meyers.html?soid=1113912258177&aid=YCdRlDLd8ws. Video coverage of the race, including the Manx win, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpNlLzwxY4U&feature=emb_logo.