Despite what the famous actor claimed, power was about 140bhp, still enough with the buggy’s light weight for storming performance, as amply demonstrated by McQueen in his antics on the beach. In order to achieve the power-sliding pirouettes on the sand, he had the car fitted with two handbrakes: one for each rear wheel.
McQueen never owned the car. After the film came out the buggy had several keepers one of whom used it for sand racing and towing water skiers across the shallow, wide beaches of Honolulu. With its engine seized (no surprise!), it was stored in a warehouse for years before emerging for what Bonhams describes as a “platinum level, concours quality restoration”. So authentic to the movie spec has this been that original nuts and bolts were reused and details like the 1967 rego sticker retained along with installation of an original spec Corvair engine and a fresh VW transaxle.
At Bonhams Amelia Island auction in Fernandina Beach the 1967/8 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx dune buggy sold for US$456,000 (£350,628) including the premium. Bonhams had billed the car as the last “big game” McQueen movie vehicle to break long term cover and be offered for sale into the market, as well as an amazing bit of movie history.
World’s most expensive beach buggy? Has to be…
Images courtesy of Bonhams.