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1969 Manx Replica Dune Buggy

1969 Manx Replica Dune Buggy

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Details

Price: SOLD

Engine: George Karakostas 1776cc Stroker Motor (w/ 300 miles)

Transmission: Karakostas Freeway Flyer Transmission

Exterior color: Green / Blue Metallic Exterior

Interior: Black Interior

Additional features:

1969 Beetle Chassis

Street Legal

George Karakostas 1776cc Stroker Motor (w/ 300 miles)

EMPI HPMX Dual Carburetors (jetted for Colorado altitude)

Enlarged Oil Galleys

Gene Berg Hi-Flow Oil System and Sump

Hi-Flow Exhaust

EMPI Short Shifter

Karakostas Freeway Flyer Transaxle

Heavy Duty Clutch

3-Spoke Steering Wheel

Ooga Horn

VDO Gauges including Voltmeter, Oil Temp, and Oil Pressure

Recaro Seats on Reinforced Seat Brackets

Re-Wired Body Harness

Bolt-On Tow Hitch and Lights for Towing Behind a Vehicle

Padded Roof Rack

High and Low Driving Lights

Fresh Firestone Destination AT S/L Tires

Colorado Title

Background

1969 Manx Replica Dune Buggy exterior photo

In the mid-1960s Bruce Meyers created a new niche in the all-terrain vehicle market with his Meyers Manx Dune Buggy. The Volkswagen-based fiberglass buggy dominated off-road events that were previously the realm of dedicated motorcycles and 4x4s—most notably winning the first Baja 1000 (before it was even called the Baja 1000)! The reason why is that they were fast, light, and reliable thanks to the combination of a shortened Volkswagen Beetle chassis, fiberglass body, and hot-rodded air-cooled Volkswagen engines. The initial success of the Manx spurred copies that improved upon his original designs and broadened the segment. Original 1960’s dune buggy survivors that weren’t driven to pieces or lost to neglect are rare, but worth the hunt if you can find one.

Summary

 exterior photo

This 1969 Manx Replica is one such example. It’s based on a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle chassis. The fiberglass body is reportedly one of a dozen examples built by a Manx copycat company from North Texas. It is an improved upon design over the Manx due to thicker fiberglass and hood scoops to avoid patent infringement (prior to the Manx patent being revoked due to how popular the designs became). The previous owner claimed that there is only one other known example of this design, which still resides north of Dallas Texas. I can’t substantiate these claims, but they do make for an interesting story. That, of course, is not what makes this Dune Buggy special—it’s the engine. It is outfitted with a 1776cc stroker motor from George Karakostas, reportedly with less than 300 miles on it. It features dual EMPI HPMX carburetors (jetted for Colorado altitude), enlarged oil galleys, a Gene Berg Hi-Flow oil system and sump, and a high-flow exhaust. A heavy-duty clutch is mounted with a Karakostas Freeway-Flyer transaxle, which allows near triple digit speeds (if you dare—I’ve seen over 80 mph). An EMPI short shifter, 3-spoke steering wheel, and full VDO gauges are also fitted.

The previous owner is a friend of mine who restored it for his daughter. When she moved overseas, I purchased it from him and sorted it further. The first step was to hand it off to local old-school engine builder Mark Hutto. Mark flushed the gasoline, brake fluid, oil, and transaxle fluid. Next he cleaned, rebuilt and re-jetted the carburetors for Colorado, gave it a fresh valve adjustment, re-routed the oil lines and engine fuel lines, and installed a new coil, spark plugs, and distributor cap. Once it was running correctly he set about re-wiring the entire electrical harness, gauge cluster, and replaced the speedometer cable. We finished it off by fabricating new seat brackets mounted with under body steel reinforcements, giving it a full detail and chrome polish, installing new driving lights, and mounting fresh Firestone Destination AT S/L tires—205/75 fronts and 215/75 rears. The result is a turn-key Dune Buggy that is ready for the next chapter of its life. It is street legal and comes with a clean Colorado title. It is comically fast and loud—as it should be—and comes with a padded roof rack (including front and rear detachable extensions) and a bolt-on tow bracket so you can tow it to your destination.

Exterior

1969 Manx Replica Dune Buggy exterior photo

Overall the exterior of this car is in very good condition. The painted fiberglass has lots of metal flake, which is period-correct and looks great. There are no glaring defects. Close examination reveals some minor inconsistencies in the color due to UV fading, but they are minor and well-hidden thanks to the blue color temperature. The frame and chassis bits are coated in a blue textured powder coating, they also present very well. From underneath the belly pans and undercarriage bits are clean and rust-free, sans minor surface browning on bolt heads, fasteners, and suspension components. All chrome and shiny bits have been lightly polished, but some do show minor pitting in areas—none that is glaring. The windshield is crack-free. The headlights, upper and lower driving lights, indicators, brake, turn signal, reverse, and license plate lights work and are bright for safety. The windshield wipers work too. The wheels have no glaring defects, bends, or curb rash. I mounted fresh Firestone Destination all-terrain tires with less than 100 miles on them.

Interior

 interior photo

There isn’t a lot to the interior of a Dune Buggy, but this one’s interior is consistent with the exterior. The powder coated floor pans look great under chrome pedals, a chrome three-spoke steering wheel, and the EMPI short shifter. The horn works and is an Ooga horn! The gauge cluster has electric VDO gauges that are backlit and all work correctly. Illuminated toggle switches control the upper and lower driving lights. We re-wired the headlight switch so it will go off with the ignition. The wiper switch is missing its faceplate, but one can be easily sourced. We remounted the Recaro seats on shortened Mustang brackets with sliders and reinforcement plates underneath the floor pans. They both slide forward and back and recline. Racing style lap safety belts are fitted, should straps could be added. The rear seat is vinyl and in great shape. There is a small pouch fitted to the passenger side foot well for your registration.

Mechanical

 engine photo

George Karakostas is a respected engine builder in the Volkswagen community. His stroked-out 1776cc engine offers significantly more power than the stock 1600cc engine, but not at the expense of drivability or reliability. The engine fires on command, idles smoothly and pulls strongly to redline (but only once the oil is up to temperature). The carbs are tuned to favor full throttle applications. At half throttle in the mid-rev range it snarls and pops, which is comically fitting for a Dune Buggy. We can back this off slightly if desired, but then you won’t giggle as much. The Freeway Flyer transmission is geared for modern speeds allowing highway cruising even in third gear and a top speed in fourth that have yet to find the bravery to test. The suspension is firm, but not jarring and the brakes do a good job of reigning in the power, despite being four-wheel drum brakes, thanks to the buggy being light. Front wheel steering lock is compromised slightly by the larger front tires, but it’s worth the trade off. There is a slight oil weeps from the engine, but none that are abnormal for an air cooled Volkswagen. It leaves a dime-sized spot if parked for extended periods. The oil breather is also routed without a catch can, but I can add one if desired. I’ve personally driven it at every opportunity over the past two months and wouldn’t hesitate to drive it across country—if you are up for a cross-country trek in a Dune Buggy. If not, it comes with a bolt on tow bracket so you can tow it behind your truck or RV.