What Kind of Car is This?

I saw this weird little car parked in front of someone’s house (“If you’ve ever mowed your lawn and found a car, you might…”) outside of Cherryville, Missouri a few weeks ago.

I’ve seen a similar car before. There was a Saturday morning cartoon show with a car like this (it talked) as one of the main characters back in the 70’s. I think there were a bunch of teenagers, à la Scooby Doo, and I think it took place near a beach. But that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, I have several questions about this car. First and foremost, of course, is what year make & model is it?
[li]Is it a factory model or some kind of kit?[/li][li]How much did one cost when new? How much would a used model cost today?[/li][li]Are they still made new (kits or production)?[/li][li]Is it street/highway legal?[/li][li]What kind of gas mileage does it get?[/li][li]What its horsepower?[/li][li]Where is the engine (front or back)?[/li][/ul]

I’m sure I’ll thinkg of others, but that’s all for now.


I thought of another question: do these cars have any accesories, such as A/C or a radio? (I didn’t get close enough to the car to get a good look. Folks in rural southeastern Missouri don’t cotton to people walking on their lawns and staring at their cars).

Looks like a Manx Dune Buggy.

Thanks, Mr. Blue Sky. That was quick!

Do you have one?

Speed Buggy! I remember that show.

Man, Hanna-Barbera put out some pretty crappy cartoons way back when…

These are just buggies made from VW bugs. We have quite a few of them here in Idaho. There are several manufacturers that make kits to convert your bug. You usually take the body off, and keep the frame and drivetrain. Then you place the new fiberglass body over the frame. Of course, in VW’s the floot pan is basically the frame, so this is not that hard of a job.

Bugs are good platforms for these buggies because they are fairly cheap, pretty light, the rear wheel drive works well offroad, and they have a large aftermarket parts selection. Making these buggies is much cheaper than making a lifted 4x4 truck.

Nope. I have had several Bugs, though. Original Manx’ are fairly collectable.

Back in the late 1960s / early 1970s there were dozens of companies selling fiberglass body kits to install over a VW bug chassis. Most of them looked very similar to what you’ve got there.

The interior and dashboard was usually pretty spartan, but you could gussy them up as much as you want. A/C would be pretty silly for such an open top car, but a humongous stereo would not be out of line. A very few of these had a detachable troof, either a fiberglass shell, or more frequently a cloth top on a flimsy folding frame, a la 1950s sportscar ragtop.

As a teenager in SoCal I had 2 different versions of this myself, and most of my friends had one at one time between HS & college. VW bugs were just meant to be played with.