A car you can build yourself, the feeling of freedom and driving pleasure out of passion. In the 1960s and 70s, the Buggy became the cult car of an entire generation. With roaring engines and brightly colored exteriors, young people striving for independence, freedom and individuality cruised the streets and sandy beaches all over the world.
Buggy in Pop Culture
Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley, Terence Hill and Bud Spencer – they all loved the Dune Buggy. Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway drove a Dune Buggy with a Chevrolet Corvair six-cylinder engine in the 1968 movie, “The Thomas Crown Affair.” In the movie “Live a Little, Love a Little” the King Of Rock 'N' Roll himself, Elvis Presley, also cruised across the silver screen in the fun mobile. And in “Watch Out, We're Mad” the red Dune Buggy, driven by Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, even became the secret hero of the movie. The best expression of enthusiasm the sporty vehicle aroused the world over, could be witnessed in the title song of the 1974 Spencer Hill classic film named after the Dune Buggy: "I feel like a king in my Buggy / Just the crown is missin’ but that’s alright / Come on people, come on my Buggy / Come and feel the power of a starry night.”
Bruce Meyers – inventor of the Buggy
The American engineer, artist, boat builder and surfer Bruce Meyers is regarded as the inventor of the fun mobile. Raised on the southern Californian coast, he wanted to build a car that would be more agile, lighter and faster to drive on beaches than the heavy eight-cylinder off-road vehicles that had drifted through the sand until then. To do this, he shortened the platform of a Volkswagen Beetle, mounted a self-made plastic body on it and called it Meyers Manx.
Today, over 300 companies worldwide have copied the striking shape of the Meyer Manx Dune Buggy. By the 1980s, around 250,000 individual Beetle-based vehicles had been produced worldwide in small series and unique versions. From the end of the 1960s onwards, a growing scene developed in which companies offered kits with which hobby carmakers could build their own fun and sports vehicles. These included Karmann, with the GF-Buggy, or Apal, with the Apal Buggy.
Fans of the Meyers Manx Dune Buggy organize themselves in the Manx Club
Today the legend of the fun, hobby mobile lives on with numerous Buggy lovers in various fan clubs worldwide. One of them is Mike Dario, President of the Manx Club in the USA, the official fan community of the legendary Meyers Manx Dune Buggy. For him, driving fun and the personality of each individual vehicle are what count most. Because: In contrast to standard vehicles, every vehicle is different. But driving a Buggy is, of course, also about the automotive feeling of freedom: “Driving a Buggy is about feeling how the wind blows in your face. Then I feel free and happy.”
With the Buggy from Sweden to South Africa and on to the USA
Tom McAlveley also loves the feeling of boundless freedom when driving a Buggy – in the truest sense of the word. Between 2004 and 2009 he drove a homemade Buggy based on a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, non-stop from his native Sweden to South Africa and on to the USA.
In 1995 the first Buggy Club is founded in South Africa
Tom McAlveley is also closely associated with the President of the Beach-Buggy Club of South Africa, Anton Kleyn. He first bought a Buggy from the Beamish Buggy manufacturer, based on a 1964 model year Volkswagen Beetle, in 1990. In 1994 he decided to build his own Buggy based on a 1967 model year Beetle – and one year later founded a Buggy Club. “I thought it would be great if a few Buggy fans could join forces and go for a ride together,” said the President of the Beach-Buggy Club of South Africa. It was the first fan club of its kind in Cape Town.
The Buggy also has fans in Chile
Just how popular the Buggy, based on the Volkswagen Beetle, is all over the world, can also be witnessed from a glance towards South America. Daniel and Kai Klischies from Chile have collected more than 30 old Volkswagen vehicles to date. “The oldest car is a Volkswagen Beetle from 1951. We are very proud of this. We even have an estate where we store and restore the cars, renamed Little Wolfsburg for fun,” the two brothers say. Of course, they also own a Meyers Manx Dune Buggy, based on a Brazilian Volkswagen Beetle from 1981 in this collection.
Cruising on Frazer Island in Australia
Also on the other side of the world there is a great love for the open classic. As with Abigail Perry: Her love for the Buggy began when she swapped her Volkswagen Beetle from 1965 for her first Beach-Buggy, a Daytona, at the age of 17 in New Zealand. Today she prefers to cruise Australia’s sandy beaches in her current – and fourth Buggy – a blue Metal Flake ManxFX from 1969. One favorite journey, a cruise along Frazer Island on the east coast of Australia, which with a length of 120 kilometers is considered the largest sand island in the world.
The Southern Dune Buggy Club in Great Britain celebrates its 20th anniversary
Also in Europe the fun mobile has a considerable fan community. One of the larger fan clubs is the Southern Dune Buggy Club of Great Britain, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019. The members are particularly proud of two vehicles: the Yellow GP MK2, a Buggy that was originally built in the early 1980s on the basis of a Beetle chassis from 1967, and on the metallic Blue/Pearl White FF Buggy, which in turn is based on a Beetle chassis from 1954.
Buggy fans have been meeting for 39 years in the Buggy Club Southern Germany
The Buggy has also found many fans in the domestic home country of the Volkswagen Beetle. One of the best-known fan clubs in Germany is the Buggy Club Süddeutschland. Enthusiasts have been meeting here for 39 years, enjoying mutual journeys. The community experience is particularly important to them: “On our joint camping trips at home and abroad, we are constantly getting to know new people. We never get bored,” enthuses Klaus Härtel.
The cult car returns as a fully electric ID. BUGGY¹
Emotions, driving pleasure and freedom – that’s what fans all over the world associate with the Beach-Buggy. And in the future also with the ID. BUGGY, the Volkswagen Group is transferring the idea of the legendary Buggies into the age of electric mobility. And: with the new Zero Emission Vehicle, the Group is showing a new, leisure-oriented facet of the electromobility future on the basis of the Modular Electrification Toolkit (MEB) – one that has long since made a good impression not only on the beach in California.