Meyers Manx Memories

  • September 2, 2023

Yesterday, I saw a Meyers Manx – a kind of car that used to be common that has become so uncommon that when you see one like it, you remember instantly what cars used to be like before government made them so forgettable.

The Manx is better-known to those who remember them as the Beetle Dune Buggy. It was the conception of Bruce Meyers, an engineer who lived in California when it was the epicenter of car culture, as opposed to what it has become (that being the epicenter of government contempt for cars and those who like them). Meyers though it would be fun to use Beetle running gear to make something very fun.

The steel body – which was often rusty anyhow – was removed and a fiberglass body with wide and tall fenders to allow for lots of clearance for suspension travel was draped over the Beetle’s simple but rugged and cheap mechanicals.  Add a rollbar and skip the air bags (those were still decades away from making new cars complicated, expensive and homogenous).

The result was extremely “unsafe” – by the standards of government-mandated new cars. Precisely why seeing one brought back so many happy memories about the way cars used to be, when it was still possible to make such cars and to drive them, too.

It was a time when even the “safe” cars were interesting in their own way because “safe” cars were once unlike most other cars. Volvos were very different cars than everyone else’s cars because they were boxy and tank-like, which was an interesting counterpoint to a freewheeling minimalist car like the Manx – which didn’t even have doors.

There were horses for course – and plenty of choices.

And that was the beauty of those times. No one was forced to buy a car like the Manx – or the Volvo. Or any other kind of car. You bought the kind of car that you wanted. As opposed to our fast-forward times, in which everyone has no choice other than to buy what a few people want us to drive – and have the power to force the car companies to build, by dint of using their power to force them to not build anything that might be interesting to us.

Those people being what we commonly refer to as “the government.”

A Frau…

It is a deceptively dangerous term because it causes us to not give too much thought to what it is.

“The government” is not an entity possessed of Great Wisdom that herds us benevolently toward The Good. It is nothing more than the relative handful of people who have acquired the legal power to do to us what would be regarded as criminal if we were to do it to anyone else.

These people – “the government” – can legally threaten to harm us in order to make us do as they say. And make us pay for what they want. They have the power to have us killed (ultimately) if we refuse to obey.

This is why there are no longer cars like the Meyers Manx – but every new car might as well actually be a Volvo. There being little, if any, meaningful difference between them other than the badging.

We are still allowed that.

As well as our choice of color.

In time, even that will fade into a dreary oneness. It will be said that more-than-one color is “wasteful” or “harms the environment” and besides, what do you need a car for, anyway?

This is what “the government” does to everything it touches. It is why government buildings all look the dreary same – ugly, that is. It is why people in countries with too much government come to look more and more the same (also ugly). The latter is not intended to insult. It is meant to remind. And to warn. Have a look at what people looked like in East Germany, in the old Soviet Union. In China. Everywhere – anywhere – “the government” has stifled the vivacity out of life. What you will see is all the same – because that is what government is all about.

It does not want things to look – much less be – different and the very last thing it wants is people being free to choose to be different. Or to drive something different. “The government” wants conformity – which is why there is always uniformity wherever “the government” holds sway. It is why there were cars like the Meyers Manx, once upon a freer time, when people like Bruce Meyers were free to build them just-because and people were free to drive them, just because.

It was time when it did not matter whether you’re next-door-neighbor or any other person didn’t like what you chose to drive because in those times, most people who didn’t like what you chose to drive would leave it at that. They were free to buy – and drive – what they wanted. They also lacked the power to force you to not buy – or prevent you from driving – what they didn’t like.

For the latter reason, there was a lot less societal friction and more smiles. In California especially. It was the place to go if you wanted to be free to do your own thing and be cool with other people doing theirs, whatever it was.

It was a happy time – and cars were a big part of it.

Now it is a very different time.

No more Meyers Manxes. No more anything like them. It is all gone now. All because of a handful of people – “the government” – who’ve somehow gotten many of us to accept the bleak-and-depressing sameness of uniformity that attends complying with the endless demands of these people, who will never leave us be to make our own choices until we refuse to tolerate being denied them anymore by such people.

When that day arrives – if it ever does – we might have interesting cars (and fun) again.

. . .

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