Meyers Manx reborn as all-electric Dune Buggy
The iconic Meyers Manx is one of those vehicles that everyone recognizes, even if they don’t quite know what it is. Developed in 1964 by Californian engineer, artist, boat builder, WWII veteran, and surfing enthusiast Bruce Meyers, the Manx became a popular way for people to convert Volkswagen Beetles into truly capable dune buggies. It became an overnight hit among those looking to get into West Coast off-road racing and was gradually adopted as a viable street rod. But it’s probably best known for being America’s fiberglass beach vehicle, ready for any kind of surf safari its owner had in mind.
If you loved cars as a child, you probably had a Manx toy (named after the adorable tailless feline) and you may have noticed that it featured heavily in cartoons that aired in the 1970s and 80. But formal production of the model actually ceased in 1971, due to problems with the IRS, leaving imitators a few decades to do their job until limited production resumed in 2000. Shortly before the Meyers’ death in 2021, he sold the business to Trousdale Ventures. and they opted to relaunch the model as an all-electric vehicle.
While Meyers Manx, Inc. continued production of the original model, it also expanded to build updated variants and modern equivalents using newer (more readily available) VW host vehicles. Trousdale Ventures seems to think an electric vehicle is the natural next step, and could very well be right considering the Manx is synonymous with California. The Golden State eventually plans to ban the sale of anything that produces emissions from an exhaust pipe, which means the company will likely have to switch to electric models or consider leaving the state in a few years.
Designed by Freeman Thomas (an industry veteran responsible for the Volkswagen New Beetle), the Meyers Manx 2.0 Electric definitely seems to be the most modern vehicle offered by the company. But it still managed to retain a lot of the hallmarks of the original. On the surface, it’s more Manx 1.0 than the all-electric ID. Buggy Volkswagen teased then failed to build. But, under the aluminum monocoque, it’s the opposite.
Customers are said to be able to buy the model with a base 20kWh battery or a larger 40kWh option. Range is estimated at around 150 miles on the standard model and 300 miles if you splurged for the larger power pack. Although it may seem impossible at first glance, these cars are only supposed to weigh 1,500 pounds. Granted, the larger battery adds 150 pounds, but the model is also said to offer 202 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of instant torque. According to the manufacturer, it’s good for 0-60 dailies in just 4.5 seconds.
The electric vehicles will be equipped with front and rear disc brakes, independent rear suspension, electric power steering and an electric emergency brake.
The only real negative (other than the lack of a handbrake) is the fact that the car doesn’t come with DC fast charging capabilities – although it’s supposed to be available as an option. Although the company considers this a recreational vehicle designed for reaching the dunes, those living in warmer climates might choose to use the Manx 2.0 to just get around once in a while. And there’s sure to be plenty of people out there who really want to get to the fun spots and have enough energy to get home after hours of bouncing around rough terrain. Plowing through sand and dirt will no doubt drain the battery much faster than standing on pavement and owners will need to take this into account before heading out.
The good news here is that since the vehicles have relatively small batteries and are exceptionally lightweight, those with DC fast chargers shouldn’t take that long to recover a useful amount of power. I would still rather have a gas-powered Manx (Subaru boxer, ideally) myself. But there seems to be a use case for an all-electric model, especially if potential owners aren’t particularly interested in picking up a key.
If you’re interested, the Manx 2.0 is supposed to start production in 2024. However, I have concerns about the previous beta program the company wants to run in 2023. Here, Meyers Manx plans to offer 50 pre-production examples Hand-picked customers for feedback that will be incorporated into the final product. While this may result in a better vehicle in 2024, these programs tend to drag on and may ultimately delay the official arrival of the vehicle. But it also makes the above information subject to change and makes the price of this thing impossible.
The Manx has always been an extremely affordable way to have fun in motoring. We don’t yet know if this will carry over to the all-electric version. But that could change once the company opens the books for pre-orders and applications for the beta program on August 19.
[Image: Meyers Manx]
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest TTAC news, features, takes, and all things truth about cars first subscribe to our newsletter.