Back in 2019, Volkswagen teased us with an electric concept car based on the classic 1960s beach buggy. The ID.Buggy, as it was called, was shown off alongside the ID.Buzz electric van, and like the van featured throwback styling, recalling an age of Beatlemania and Richard Nixon. Well, maybe not that second one.
Sadly, unlike the Buzz, the Buggy never made it into production. It seemed, for a glorious five minutes, as if it might but Covid put paid to any plans that may have existed, and the ID.Buggy was destined to remain only a concept.
That’s okay though, because the original beach buggy — technically known as the Meyers Manx — is making its own comeback, and it will now come with electric power.
The original Manx, designed by California surfer Bruce Meyers, was a simple moulded fibreglass body sat on top of rugged Volkswagen Beetle running gear. It was a toy, literally designed for the beach and while it was only ever sold with rear-wheel drive, a combo of chunky tyres and light weight meant that it could easily bounce up and down a dune or two.
Meyers himself sadly passed away in 2020, but before that he sold his eponymous company to an investment firm called Trousdale Ventures. That firm’s chief executive, Philip Sarofim, is a confirmed car nut and he is apparently the driving force behind the return of the classic Manx beach buggy.
As with the original, the new Manx has a body that’s a single fibreglass moulding, with classic Beetle-style round lights poking up at the front. Underneath, instead of a Beetle’s air-cooled flat-four, there’s an aluminium monocoque structure housing a battery and two electric motors — Meyers buys this in from outside rather than making its own, but the company isn’t yet prepared to say who makes the electric parts.
The Manx has a very healthy 205hp in its most powerful form (the original Beetle engine struggled to produce 65hp on a good day), with 325Nm of torque and the whole car only weighs a maximum of 748kg — proving that electric cars don’t really need to be heavy if you can do without all that pesky bodywork.
You can choose from two batteries — a 20kWh unit with a claimed range of 241km, or a 40kWh unit with a claimed range of 483km. The 205hp version can hit 100km/h in a claimed 4.5secs, which is going to feel pretty brisk in a car with no proper roof. Nor doors.
Meyers is planning to build an initial run of 50, whose owners will be politely asked to take part in a ‘beta-test’ to work out any bugs in the design. Then, from 2024 regular production is set to begin, although Meyers isn’t yet talking about pricing. It won’t be cheap, though — the company is said to be targeting “the wealthy with multiple homes and multiple cars.”
Freeman Thomas, chief executive of Meyers Manx, said: “Knowing Bruce’s artistry and Phillip’s enthusiasm for the brand, I am so glad that Bruce trusted us to carry his legacy into the future.The new Manx 2.0 Electric is designed to exceed expectations. It’s simple and endearing and taps into the spirit of playfulness. The ageless design brings out your inner child. It’s about passion.”
The new electric Manx will be shown off to the public at the upcoming Monterey historic car festival in California. No plans for Irish sales have been announced, but then we don’t really have the weather, do we?