Bruce Meyers of Fountain Valley California designed the first dune buggies in 1963 using a fiberglass monocoque shell or what today would be called a unibody structure. His initial dune buggies had a steel frame within the fiberglass body. They were designed to bolt Volkswagen Beetle engine, transmission, front and rear suspension systems to the unibody design. The monocoque dune buggy body shell production started in 1964 with only twelve bodies produced. The cost to make the steel reinforced bodies was to expensive and slow. The next version of the bodies were made of only fiberglass, those were designed to bolt on top of a shortened VW pan. The new fiberglass only bodies, the “Meyers Manx” as Bruce called them, were much cheaper to produce and became a huge success. By 1971 over 6,000 Meyers Manx bodies had been produced and available in 5 different body styles. There would be 100’s of copy cat designers of his dune buggies over the years, but Bruce Meyers was the first and the original “Meyers Manx” dune buggies have become highly desired and collectible.
Ted Trevor founded the “Crown Manufacturing Company” in Newport Beach California in 1960. In just a few years time Ted was the leading manufacturer of kits to adapt the Chevrolet Corvair flat six engines into air-cooled Volkswagen Bugs, Karmann Ghia’s and dune buggies that were based on the VW motors. These were called ‘Volks-Vair’ kits. The additional horsepower that the Corvair engine could make was a big step up from the Volkswagen stock motors. Crown Manufacturing would eventually sell 15,000 such kits. In later years, Ted’s company would go on to be known for their kits to adapt V-8 engines into the Chevrolet Corvair’s .
Volks-Vair dune buggies at the 1966 Pikes Peak Hill Climb
Ted Trevor and Don Wilcox entered two of the Crown Manufacturing Volks-Vair equipped monocoque bodied Meyers Manx, dune buggies in the 1966 PPHC. (That’s a mouthful!). When they showed up for practice week nothing like that had ever been seen at the hill climb. The dune buggies arrived with windshields, passenger seats and license plates. The rules committee decided a few changes had to be made in order for the cars to enter in the Sports Car Class. Behind the scenes no one except Ted and Don figured the buggies would even have a chance , let alone win. To meet the class requirements and to keep the old guard at the PPHC content the two drivers adapted a few changes. The windshields were removes along with the passenger seats and a tonneau cover was used to cover the interior.
Ted Trevor’s purple dune buggy ran the carburetor equipped Corvair engine and Don Wilcox’s blue buggy was using a turbocharged Corvair Spdyer motor. Of the two, Don’s was lighter by 200 pounds and was the fastest. During practice folks started to take notice. Hot Rod magazine said ” The power-to-rate ratio is very good and traction for acceleration off the corners is second to none thanks to the rear engine location”. The biggest surprise was at quailing were Don Wilcox’s time in the turbocharged buggy beat all of the sports cars regardless of engine size AND was faster then all of the stock cars and most of the championship class cars too. Ted Trevor wasn’t as fortunate, he was still dealing with carburetor issues adjusting the engine for the altitude.
Race day would show a reversal of fortune for the two dune buggy drivers. Don Wilcox lost a coil wire at the gravel pit area and would sit along the side of the course for quite some time. After figuring out the issue he continued to the summit with a time of over an hour. Ted Trevor’s car was running much better with adjustments since time trails and took the win in the under 3000 liter sports car class with a time of 15:43.
After Pikes Peak
Gates Tire Company of Denver Colorado was a large sponsor for the hill climb in 1966 and liked what the buggies were about and used Ted’s dune buggy in its advertisements after the race.
The pair would go on to race their dune buggies in slalom and autocrosss races events after Pikes Peak. Both cars were successful and became very famous in the California dune buggy culture.
The purple dune buggy that Ted drove would later be totaled in an a racing accident but the engine would go into a legendary dune buggy racer the “Purple People Eater” and would carry on the winning spirit. Ted Trevor was close to Bruce Meyers the originator of the Manx dune buggies. Bruce, to this day still has a chuck of the purple metal flake body from Ted’s accident his office. There are few color pictures of either dune buggy. Below is the only known of Ted’s purple car, looks to be at a slalom event perhaps. notice the license plate is the same from the PPHC newspaper clip above.
Don Wilcox’s dune bugging would be modified after Pikes Peak and finished forth in class at the Mexican 1000 Baja race in 1968 driven by Eric Ressier and Glen Forte. Don Wilcox would buy the buggy from Crown MFG. in 1969 and over the years convert it back to the way it was when he raced at Pikes Peak. After more then forty years of ownership he still has his PPHC dune buggy. In 2015 he was invited to show it at the Carlise Import and Kit Nationals.
There would be other dune buggies entered in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in later years. But being the first only happens once. The fact that only 12 monocoque Meyers Manx dune buggies were built and two of them raced at Pikes Peak and one STILL survives is amazing. If you have additional information or pictures of dune buggies racing at the PPHC please slip me a line.
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