Making the Register: The Manx In-Depth
Last month, the Historic Vehicle Association announced that the first Meyers Manx known as “Old Red” will soon be joining the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX2287 on the National Historic Vehicle Register. So why Old Red, you ask? Good question. Take a look at the Register criteria and find out how they apply to this particular vehicle.
Ever since the HVA made automotive history by announcing that the National Historic Vehicle Register had become a reality, a lot of people have been wondering just what qualities are necessary for the Library of Congress to recognize a specific car.
Meeting a number of the criteria established by the National Park Service (which administers the Heritage Documentation Programs) and the HVA, Old Red provides a great example to explain a little bit more about how the new program works. Here’s rundown on why Old Red makes the grade:
- Associative Value—Person (A vehicle associated with the lives of significant persons in automotive or American history)
This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. While there may have been comparable dune buggies without Bruce Meyers, the man behind the Manx, one thing is for sure: they wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. Meyers’ West Coast upbringing and general outlook on life can be found in all aspects of the Manx, making it one of the most enjoyable cars out there to drive, not to mention simply look at. A pioneer in vehicle design and replication, Meyers made a real impact on the automotive industry in the second half of the twentieth century.
- Associative Value—Event (A vehicle associated with an event or events that are important in automotive or American history)
While not possessing quite the same race pedigree as the Register’s first inductee, Old Red nonetheless managed to make history with its record-setting Baja run in 1967, besting the previous record by some nine hours.. Beyond this competitive accomplishment, Old Red helped usher in a new era of design and vehicle fabrication, which leads us to:
- Design or Construction Value (A vehicle that is distinctive based on design, engineering, craftsmanship or aesthetic value.)
While Old Red was by no means the first dune buggy, it was the first fiberglass dune buggy. And the shapely, almost cartoonish design was one that came straight from the mind of its creator. In coming up with an aesthetically pleasing and functional design for his creation, Bruce used his art school and boat-building backgrounds, along with a love of cars found in the early comics, to create the swooping lines and almost cartoonish look of the Manx. Having created a fiberglass body on a VW chassis, Bruce was able to (fairly) easily replicate the vehicle. Using the same technology used in boatbuilding, Meyers spawned a virtual revolution in vehicle reproduction, the ease of which was very nearly his financial undoing when dozens of others caught on and began replicating his design.
- Informational Value (A vehicle of a particular type that was the first or last produced, has an element of rarity as a survivor of its type, or is among the most well-preserved or thoughtfully restored surviving examples.)
Like CSX2287, Old Red represents a landmark automotive achievement—an American original that went on to spawn thousands of imitators all looking to capture (and cash in on) all the intangibles originally made real by Bruce Meyers’ artistry and engineering expertise. One of the most replicated vehicles of all time, Old Red represents a significant step in the history of American car culture.
Interested in finding out more about the National Historic Vehicle Register? Click here to visit the HVA’s NHVR website, and stay tuned for future updates to be announced in the months to come.