It took a few days, but today’s editions of The New York Times included a well-reseached and -crafted appreciation of Bruce Meyers, who invented a whole new category of enthusiast vehicle when he brainstormed the Meyers Manx dune buggy kit in 1967. Meyers died last week in California at age 94, still a little bitter that copycats who flagrantly ripped off his delightfully simple design, a simple fiberglass tub bolted atop a shortened Volkswagen Beetle floorpan. Meyers literally could have sold a million Manxes, other than for legal loopholes that allowed the hordes to copy his patented design without consequence. One of the sources for the Times‘ article was the National Historic Vehicle Association, which in 2014 chose the Manx as the second vehicle – led only by CSX2287, the immortal 1964 Cobra Daytona coupe that Carroll Shelby and Peter Brock created – on its list of culturally significant automobiles.
Perhaps the larger issue here is the existence of the HVA, and what it does. With about 450,000 members globally, the HVA is the world’s largest community of historic-vehicle enthusiasts. The association was founded in 2009 in part through financial support by McKeel Hagerty, whose eponymous Michigan firm is a leader in the market for insuring collectible vehicles. The HVA collaborates with the U.S. Department of the Interior to create and maintain a registry of culturally significant vehicles, one of which was Old Red, the first Meyers Manx ever built. Meyers and his wife, Winnie, were invited to the U.S. Capitol in 2014 as part of HVA’s inaugural Cars at the Capitol gathering. The list of vehicles on the HVA registry is both profound and provocative. Among them are the 15 millionth Ford Model T, the 1969 Corvette formerly owned by Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, and the very first Chrysler minivan to roll off the line in 1983.