Text and Photos by Steve Temple

What you see here is not just another dune buggy. No, this Meyers Tow’d has been reborn in a couple different ways, both by the renowned Bruce Meyers, its original manufacturer, and its current owner Eric Amberson. First we’ll share some history from Bruce and then reveal a touching story about Eric’s involvement with this sporty little rig.

Back in the late Sixties, when Bruce’s Manx was becoming hugely popular, he was also into dirt bikes. He recalls that female family members and friends wanted to join the fun, but he didn’t want them falling down in the dirt and getting hurt. So he created the Tow’d: “The simplest statement of attaching a VW front end to a VW rear end,” as he describes it. “The frame was one big hairpin, made of 2 1/4-inch tubing, with a hammock in between the ends and a place for beer in the back.”

Obviously the initial design was very bare bones, strictly for off-road adventuring, and designed to be towed (hence the name) to the trailhead. But it was so frisky and appealing that many customers begged Bruce to make a street version. “Begrudgingly, I added a hood, windshield and fenders, and then sold nearly a 1000 of them,” he recalls (including a customized one to Ford prez Bunkie Knudsen).

“I built this car so many times,” he relates. “It has seen me through the hardest times of life. It has been there for me to turn a wrench on when I needed to leave the frustrations of those times and just build.”

Eric feels this may have been his Dad’s plan all along. It’s not a technical car, very simple actually, the perfect project for a young man with no patience and no money. As a sort of trial-and-error exercise, an essential aspect of growing up, “That little car taught me how to do things right—by doing it wrong first, most of the time,” he admits. “And how to build parts that I couldn’t afford to buy new, or maybe they just weren’t around anymore.”

So he had had to learn fiberglass repair, how to paint, machining, suspension modification, engine building, and so on, the whole gamut. By the way, the engine is a 2180cc VW Type 1, fitted with a Jaguar SU carb that’s force-fed air by a vintage RayJay turbo. Power output? Plenty, especially in a rail that weighs only slightly more than a beach cruiser bicycle.

Eric’s project car hasn’t been totally a solo deal, though. When he decided to build it for the last time, he had Vance Robison design and build a new roll cage and chassis reinforcement for the car. Eric says Vance has been building race-car chassis and sprintcars for years and is one of the best fabricators in Reno. If you look closely, you can see the sprintcar influence in the car.

He also gives loving credit to his wife Traci Amberson, “For being my support and my rock all of these years, and never letting me sell the car,” he shares. “She has always known—better than me at times—what this car meant to me and our family.”

He also thanks Uncle Dave for saving what is his most prized possession and greatest memories of his dad. And Steve (Stevo) BroBerg as well, not only for expertly handling the body and paint, but also understanding what this car means to Eric and taking the time to get it right.

Most important of all, Eric dedicates this reborn ride to his father: “There are hundreds of pictures of you, Dad, in the buggy; however, they will never be developed, for they reside in my heart and my memories. I can see you every time I look at the car. I can say now after all of these years, yes, it’s time, the buggy is done, fueled up and ready to go. Let’s take that last ride together to that place in the trees where you were the happiest.”