With its open construction (no roof, no doors) that allowed for expansive views of sand and sea, and a fibreglass body as lightweight as it was jaunty, the original Meyers Manx beach buggy was created by Bruce Myers, an engineer and surfer, in Newport Beach in 1964. Very much a part of 1960s Southern California surf culture, the beach buggy’s popularity would last for the next two decades. Now, it seems that this nifty vehicle is having a moment again.
In March, a beach buggy was sold for US$456,000 (S$634, 300) by auction house Bonhams, making it the world’s priciest vehicle of its kind. What made this particular vermilion model so special is that it was driven by Hollywood icon Steve McQueen in the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair. And a year ago, Volkswagen — whose Beetle was commonly used as the basis for dune buggies — unveiled an electric model, the ID Buggy concept.
For lovers of luxury who are interested in getting on the buggy bandwagon (whether for the first time, or not), luxury brand Berluti has developed its very own version. First, the technical bits: It stays true to the Meyers Manx with its use of a Volkwagen Beetle frame and motor, and a polyester shell based on the original mould. This shell gives the buggy a light weight of 500kg (that’s a third the weight of a mid-size sedan), even with features such as a rollover protection structure that doubles as a surfboard stand. It’s powered by an air-cooled flat-four engine (1,600cc, 90HP) with twin carburettors.
Of course,what anyone would want to know if they are contemplating a Berluti-branded vehicle is, so where do the Berluti bits come in? There are plenty: Firstly, the buyer has a choice of the brand’s bespoke leathers and patinas, and the chosen leather covers the dashboard, steering wheel (with a telltale little B logo), gear lever and the two seats (which are hand-made in France). We cannot help wondering who could bear to subject the brand’s lovely, pricey Venezia or exotic leathers to the elements, but hey, that’s not our cross to bear. This designer ride also features a canvas soft-top decorated with Berluti’s new Signature motif, which was recently introduced by creative director Kris Van Assche; a removable luggage carrier covered in black leather; and a palladium-finished brass Berluti logo on the hood. Watch out, beaches.
The Berluti beach buggy is available via special order.