An update on the Manx is way past due. David delivered the car to me at the Buellton Run back in April and it's been difficult to pry me out of it ever since. It only had 300 miles on it when David handed me the keys, so we both felt it was time to test it a little farther. I know David wasn't worried about the reliability of it at all, so why would I be?
Thus, the buggy's shakedown cruise was from San Diego, CA to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja peninsula, and then back to San Diego: a trip in excess of 2,000 miles overall. And what a trip it was! This was mainly a highway run to keep pace with the Meyers Manx Race Buggy #1964 which was participating in the NORRA 1000. A highway run in Mexico, however, is much different than a US highway run. For one thing, thanks to the Mexican Government's desire to improve the road, there were many detours that forced us into the fine power-like dust that covers the desert. There were portions where it was frankly impossible to see through the silt. Add to that a vast desert where temperatures soared over 103 combined with incredibly strong winds for the entire day. It was like driving through a blast furnace!
So how did the buggy do? It performed flawlessly with just two very minor problems. In Loreto, literally as we pulled into the hotel, the automatic radiator fan blade dropped between the radiator and the fan housing. A quick disassembly of the fan shroud showed a circlip had slipped off the shaft allowing the blade to walk off the fan motor. Luckily, the circlip had wedged itself between the radiator and the blade, so all I had to do was retrieve it, clamp it closed with some pliers, and it was good to go. The other problem was the speedometer stopped working just after we crossed the border back into San Diego on the last day of the trip. But that speedometer was an original VDO vintage style gauge that was part of the old dropdown dashboard assembly I gave to David to incorporate into the "new" car. It was over 20 years old and hadn't been used in 15 of those years!
One of the things I asked David to do was not let the engine protrude into the back seat area. I also was trying to avoid the addition of a radiator wing to help preserve the vintage lines (although, seeing that giant fan is kind of a dead giveaway . . it looks like a rocket engine from behind). To accomplish this, he stretched the wheelbase of the car about 3 inches and lifted it a couple inches as well. I really think that slight increase in wheelbase really improved the handling and ride of the car. Its not at all scary to be driving it at 80mph, whereas before it was a bit of an "oh sh*t" moment at anything over 65. Now there's probably a lot of factors that could make it handle better . . . Its IRS now, instead of the old swing axle, and it has a beautiful rebuilt link pin front end instead of the old ball joint version. The accelerator pedal is instantaneous through an electronic module to an EFI engine instead of the old steel cable running to dual carbs, and the bus trans is much better geared than my old bug transaxle. On top of all of that . . .the worst mileage I got in Mexico (on Mexican gas) was 22 MPG. Most of the time it was closer to 25mpg. The only downside I can come up with is its a pain in the arse to add oil (but doable with the advent of a funnel and tubing that looks like a beer bong to reach back under the license plate lip area). And changing the oil filter is a bit difficult because of its location behind the rear seat area. But, to me, preserving the Manx Body made the extra effort well worth it.
In all, the car runs great. The gearing is perfect. The chassis is well though out. The ecotec purrs while never once hinting at overheating. The buggy rides like a dream. In fact, this is the first buggy I've owned that doesn't squeak. I cannot praise David's tube chassis enough. It has taken my old pan-based Manx to a whole new level. In addition to all of the mechanical design work, David filled I-can't-even-remember-how-many-hundreds of holes, filled in the rear fenders which had been cut out for large tires, and humored me by designing some really clever hinge points and mounting brackets to allow the front windshield to fold down onto the hood, before repainting it the '66 Chevrolet station wagon blue. He even put up with my budget constraints and the desire to reuse a lot of old parts that were on the original buggy, like the 1980's Beard racing seats and the '56 chrome taillights. This was a complete turnkey car, from paint, to wiring, to chassis, to running gear.
Thank you David Barrett and Manx Chassis for building a buggy that surpassed my expectations!
By the way, I happen to know David has 3 or 4 more ecotecs sitting in his barn, just waiting for another donor to step upsmiley: pimp
Here's some pictures I took the week after we got back from the Baja run.
Slick engine turned side shields keep rocks away from the radiator. There's also a porous rock shield on the engine side of the radiator as an extra precaution.
Although I couldn't believe it myself, there actually was a time I had all of those cup holders filled up! From cell phones to maps, they hold all sorts of stuff.
Theres a doughnut spare tire and ice chest rack in the back seat area. I carry all the luggage, camping stuff, spare gas, water, parts, and tools on the roof rack.
Here's the "Before" pictures