1964 Meyers Manx “Old Red”

1964 Meyers Manx "Old Red"

HAER Number

CA-2312

Location

Valley Center, CA

Date(s) of Construction

October 1963 – ca 1964

Original Owner and Use

Bruce Meyers
Newport Beach, CA
Registration: OTV 553

On/Off-Road Recreational Vehicle

Present Owner and Use

Bruce Meyers
Valley Center, CA

Display and limited exhibition

Designer / Engineer / Builder

Bruce Meyers
Newport Beach, CA

Significance

The 1964 Meyers Manx known as Old Red, is nationally significant based on the relation to four criteria. First, it is associated with important trends in automotive history and culture, a significant event. Old Red shaped the rise of the dune buggy phenomenon in the United States and abroad beginning in the mid -1960s. Second, it is associated with Bruce Meyers, a pioneer of the dune buggy craze and a significant person in the context of off-road vehicles and the fiberglass kit-car industry. Third, Old Red features significant design and construction value: it is the first dune buggy built with a fiberglass body and its design transformed the dune buggy industry. Fourth, it offers informational value as the first in a series of approximately 7000 Manx dune buggies built by B.F. Meyers & Company, it is the inspiration for over 250,000 similar cars manufactured by other companies, and is thus the most replicated car in history. The period of significance for Old Red was from its completion in 1964 to the end of Meyers Manx production in 1971.

Description

The 1964 Meyers Manx (Old Red) is a two-seater fiberglass dune buggy type roadster automobile. Its body and frame are of a monocoque design consisting primarily of fiberglass with steel tube supports integrated in the body. Old Red features a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. The fiberglass body is both angular and curvaceous, featuring high fenders, no doors, a face like front-end, and an exposed engine in the rear. The engine was updated in the mid – 1970s. It is currently powered by an air-cooled circa 1973 Volkswagen Thing (Type 181) 1595 CCD horizontally-opposed, overhead-valve, four-cylinder, engine rated at 50 DIN horsepower. The engine is naturally aspirated and carbureted by a single Solex 28 PICT 1-barrel with a thermostatically-controlled automatic choke. Old Red’s drivetrain consists of a 1963 Volkswagen synchronized 4-speed transaxle connected to the rear wheels by two independently suspended swing-type axles. The car has four-wheel independent Volkswagen suspension. The front end is suspended by trailing links connected to the wheels and a pair of transversely mounted torsion bars. The torsion bars are made up of five leaf springs on the top and four on the bottom. Conventional shock absorbers handle damping. The rear axles are sprung by airsprings and coil-over shocks with radius arms connecting the axles to the monocoque chassis. Old Red has four- wheel hydraulic drum brakes. It is painted with Tangerine Red lacquer. The interior of Old Red features many Volkswagen components including the seats, steering wheel, instrumentation, and pedal assembly. Overall, the car is in good condition featuring slight wear from occasional use and the effects of time, undergoing its last complete restoration in the mid – to – late 1970s. Slight updates have been made to minor components however the car retains its integrity as a historic artifact.

History

Old Red is the first fiberglass dune buggy constructed and the prototype Meyers Manx. It was built between late -1963 and 1964 by Bruce Meyers. Meyers, a surfer, beach aficionado, and boat builder by trade combined his love of California culture and his skills in fiberglass techniques to craft Old Red. Influenced by the emergence of other dune buggies and off-road vehicles in the early 1960s, Meyers used his background to build a personal vehicle to enjoy on the beach and explore the desert. Meyers designed the dune buggy to be lightweight, capable and stylish. He utilized a Volkswagen engine and suspension components, recognizing the benefit of the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout for off-road construction. Meyers did not have initial plans to create a dune buggy company; he built Old Red with the intention of only making a handful of subsequent cars to enjoy himself and sell to friends. People took to the unique design instantly, and the increasing popularity of recreational vehicles drove instant demand for the Manx. With financial support from Road & Track magazine, positive press coverage, and general mass appeal, the subsequent B.F. Meyers & Company took-off and shaped the dune buggy phenomenon of the 1960s. Meanwhile, Bruce used Old Red as a promotional vehicle for hiscompany; loaning it out for the creation of toys, demonstrating its capabilities to journalists and setting a record run traversing the Mexican Baja peninsula and kick starting the famed Baja 1000 competition. Old Red remained with Bruce after he left the B.F. Meyers Company in 1971, when copycat buggy manufacturers forced the company under. In the mid to late 1970s Old Red was restored by Drino Miller and Sanford Havens. Miller and Havens, also pioneers of Baja competition, painted Old Red with its current lacquer and installed a new engine. Bruce owned Old Red until ca 1982 when he sold it to Dick Chyrsler. Old Red returned to Meyers in 1996 after it was found in Michigan. It was lightly reconditioned to make operable. Bruce continues his stewardship of Old Red, running it occasionally for display and exhibition use.

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