Beach to Baja: Dune buggies in the news from VW ID concept to McQueen’s Manx

Dune buggies popped up in the news several times this week. The open-bodied American car culture icon that took hold in the 1960s on shortened VW Beetle chassis inspired a VW electric concept vehicle, the ID. BUGGY.

News also dropped from Silodrome that the most famous dune buggy of all time, the custom Meyers Manx model that actor Steve McQueen helped to build and then drove in The Thomas Crown Affair is going under the hammer in an upcoming Bonhams auction. Finally, Glickenhaus revealed the Baja Boot, a street-legal desert-racing dune buggy inspired by McQueen’s personal Baja racer, Jalopnik reported.

VW ID. BUGGY

Don’t count on the VW ID. BUGGY concept to ever appear as a production vehicle. The fun ride’s purpose is to show off the flexibility and versatility of the brand’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB) platform. Electric vehicle platforms, with the batteries and electric motor under the floor, enable manufacturers to attach a wide range of upper vehicle bodies to the base. To build out a full line of cars, SUVs, and even trucks, the manufacturer can vary the platform length and, less often the width. For more power, place more batteries under the floor. The overall concept is similar to the Meyers Manx dune buggy kit cars. In the photos above, the red dune buggy is a Meyers Manx.

The VW Group previously announced it would invest more than $50 in electric vehicles, with more than 70 new models in production by 2028. The first vehicle slated to launch with the MEB platform is the ID.3 hatchback for the European market this fall. A compact SUV based on the ID. CROZZ  will likely be the first VW EV on sale in the U.S., currently expected in late 2020. The ID. BUZZ, a modern microbus, is on the calendar for 2022. The Volkswagen press release teases future possibilities for the ID. BUGGY, but the best chance of that happening is if VW licenses the technology to a custom coachbuilder. For more on the ID. BUGGY see Digital Trends impressions during a first ride on the beach.

The Steve McQueen Thomas Crown Affair Meyers Manx

Early in 2020, the custom Meyers Manx dune buggy driven by Steve McQueen in the film The Thomas Crown Affair will be presented for auction. The first VW-based dune buggies were Meyers Manx kits built on VW Beetle platforms. Many owners were happy with standard Beetle drivetrains and larger wheels and tires. When buyers wanted higher performance buggies, however, custom Meyers Manx models were built to specifications.

The actor and the film’s directors wanted a fast dune buggy. McQueen, who famously did most of own his car and motorcycle driving in films such as Bullitt and The Great Escape, was heavily involved in designing the dune buggy for The Thomas Crown Affair. According to a Bonham’s press release, the famous dune buggy will be auctioned March 5, 2020.

Glickenhaus Baja Boot

Steve McQueen’s history with fast dune buggies included a hardcore desert racer called the Hurst Baja Boot that the actor raced in the 1969 Baja 1000 and other grueling races. In 2010 James Glickenhaus bought the Baja Boot. Glickenhaus’s company, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, builds street-legal cars designed to compete in specific challenging races.

Since early 2018 the Glickenhaus team has been working on a new version of the Baja Boot, one that is both capable of competing in the Baja 1000 and being driven legally on public roads. This week Glickenhaus posted photos of the new vehicle on Twitter.

According to Jalopnik, the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus revealed the new Baja Boot during Monterey Car Week, with an estimated price in the range of $250.000.

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