<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 119
Ex-The Thomas Crown Affair
c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy

Sold for US$ 456,000 inc. premium
Ex-The Thomas Crown Affair
c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy
Chassis no. 117358054
Engine no. T0629RB

2,683cc Flat 6-Cylinder Engine
Four Carburetors, Aluminum Cylinder Heads
140+ bhp
4-Speed Manual Transaxle
Modified Volkswagen Floor Pan, Chassis and Suspension
4-Wheel Hydrulic Drum Brakes

*Bespoke and highly customized authentic Meyers Manx fiberglass body
*Custom interior, exhaust, and American Racing Wheels
*Cast and costumed specifically for its role in this iconic McQueen film


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

By the time Steve McQueen starred in 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair, he was already one of Hollywood's top tier leading men, among the world's most popular actors, and a top money earner and box office draw. Many of his roles cast him as a "Regular Joe" -- albeit a undeniably handsome and sexy one – and his agent, Stan Kamen, and his wife Neil Adams McQueen, wanted to "get him out of those soldier and cowboy clothes" into more sophisticated roles. Mrs. McQueen goaded her husband into convincing director Norman Jewison to cast Steve in the leading role in Jewison's upcoming slick, sexy, and polished caper flick, to ultimately be named The Thomas Crown Affair. Cary Grant and Sean Connery were among others being considered for the role, and Connery reputedly was made the offer and declined, something he later admitted regretting. McQueen was persistent and influential, and ultimately convinced Jewison he could pull off the educated, wealthy, custom suit wearing Boston socialite/bank robber character. Crown's foil and love interest, insurance investigator Vicki Anderson, was ably played by a relative newcomer, the sophisticated yet minxy Faye Dunaway, whose recent breakout performance in Chinatown put her on the Hollywood map in big ways.

McQueen's prowess as a motorcyclist was demonstrated beyond question in The Great Escape. We got another taste for his affinity for all things mechanical in The Sand Pebbles: His character, navy crewmember Jake Holman, maintained a near humanistic relationship with his ship's engine. But it was The Thomas Crown Affair that first demonstrated—to movie audiences, at least—McQueen's deep and genuine affinity for cars, and his considerable talent at the wheel.

There were several star cars in this slickly produced film. The first was Thomas Crown's daily driver, a navy blue 1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow coupe, an elegant, two-door version of the current Silver Shadow sedan. An appropriate ride for an upper-crust bank robber.

Thomas Crown's other signature ride could not be more of a contrast to a deep-blue Rolls-Royce. It was also continued evidence of McQueen's ability to influence the makeup of the films he starred in. In a period documentary about the making of the film, McQueen told the story of the one-off dune buggy that so clearly demonstrated his love of cars and his driving ability: "Crown lives at the beach, and he has a sand dune buggy. I helped 'em design it, so I'm kinda proud of that. It's set on a Volkswagen chassis, with big ol' wide weenies, big wide tires on mag wheels, Corvair engine stuffed in the back...It's very light, you know. It's pulling about 230 horses, and the vehicle weighs about 1,000 pounds."

Southern California designer/musician/surfer Bruce Meyers wanted something fun, light weight, and inexpensive for people to take to the beach. No such vehicle existed in the early 1960s, so he created one. Employing a playfully attractive fiberglass body, a purpose-built chassis, and a Volkswagen engine, his Meyers Manx single-handedly launched the dune buggy phenomenon. The original bespoke monocoque chassis and suspension proved too expensive to produce for the low-cost kits that Meyers wanted to sell, so he adapted the design to fit a shortened VW floorpan.

Although dozens of other companies ripped off Meyers' idea and built their own variations on the dune buggy theme, Crown's was built using an original Meyers Manx body. The Crown buggy was built up by an east coast company called Con-Ferr. Pete Condos was an early pioneer of recreational off-road and off-road racing equipment technology, and thus was a logical source to build the Crown buggy. The script initially called for use of a Jeep, but McQueen had purportedly seen the original Meyers Manx flying through the air on the cover of a 1966 issue of Hot Rod magazine and felt it was more Thomas Crown's style.

The bright-orange/red bodywork was modified in numerous ways, the most obvious being the speedboat inspired wraparound windscreen, plus sunken headlights beneath plastic covers, and the luggage rack on the back. Like most Manxes, the Crown buggy employed a Volkswagen floorpan, swing arm rear suspension, and four-speed VW transaxle. The "big ol' wide weenies" McQueen mentions are Firestone racing tires (Indy 500 superspeedway rubber, purportedly purchased from race team owner Andy Granatelli) on specially cast American Racing wheels. As with many of his personal cars, McQueen tapped Tony Nancy to stitch the custom seats and interior trim. The seat frames came from a Datsun Fair Lady sports car, and it's likely that this Manx had one of the nicest interiors ever installed in a dune buggy.

What really set Crown's Manx apart was its powerplant. Most such buggies ran an air-cooled VW flat four. Depending upon the state of tune, power outputs ranged from 40 to perhaps 125 horsepower; most dune buggies were built using relatively stock engines, which meant 75–100 horsepower. Not good enough for McQueen. So this one was built using a Chevrolet Corvair's horizontally opposed, air-cooled six-cylinder engine, a configuration much resembling that of a Porsche 911 powerplant. As noted, McQueen claimed the engine was "pulling about 230 horses" although speculation is that it was more like 140, the four-carb Corvair engine's stock output. Given the open piped exhaust and perhaps minimal carburator and timing mods, it could have been as much as 175; but McQueen's 230 HP claim was a flight of fancy for this naturally aspirated Corvair engine; as the factory turbocharged versions of the day were only good for 180. Even taking the conservative estimate, the Crown buggy had a weight-to-power ratio rivaling some race cars of the day, so it was fast, no matter. Another particularly interesting bit of kit added by Condos during the original build was a pair of handbrake levers allowing McQueen to alternatively lock either rear wheel, making it easier and much more dramatic to slide and pirouette the buggy through the sand; similar systems are used in today's drift racers to allow long lurid, tail out power oversteer slides with one rear wheel locked and the other spinning under power.

The muscled-up Manx appears in The Thomas Crown Affair several times (and in the theatrical trailer, plus various movie posters, press photos, and promotional materials), all at the beach of course. Its most famous scene is several minutes long and shows Crown and Anderson assaulting the dunes. Most impressive is that there were no stunt doubles used for any of it: McQueen did all the driving, with Faye Dunaway in the passenger seat. The scene is a gem and again demonstrated that Steve McQueen was both a certified car freak and fabulous driver. To watch him spin the buggy around on the sand, splash water, chase birds, launch over a dune, and fly the buggy through the air is like watching a beaming child play with a new toy. A camera rig could be temporarily mounted to the Manx's chassis for "cutaway" shots, which clearly show both actors in the buggy as it careened around the beach. McQueen could turn the camera on and off via a hidden switch.

Some of the action was ad-libbed, McQueen just driving the buggy as he wished. Other elements were more carefully coreographed. "What I've got to do," McQueen said, "is to take the sand dune buggy and drop it straight down [the dune], and then run the rim around the outside of it." The move worked to great effect, spraying sand everywhere. On board microphones pick up lots of engine sound, as well as Faye Dunaway laughing and squealing as McQueen puts the buggy through paces. It was great live action cinematography caught in real time, and at real speed with no fakery or "green screen" artifice.

Faye Dunaway proved a more than good sport about the whole deal. "We did one big jump for the camera right off the edge of a high dune, and it was wild—with the rear wheels [drooping and] clappin' each other in the air. I looked over and Faye was all bug-eyed; the back of the floorboard was scratched raw from her heels diggin' in." About another scene, McQueen said, "The thing just wouldn't turn. The throttle jammed and we were heading right for the ocean at a terrific rate of speed. Well, on film, all you could see was this orange bug disappearing into the water. Faye came out of it soaked and smiling. Some trooper! They had to take the whole engine apart to get the saltwater out."

The Condos/McQueen/Crown Manx lived an initially active, then ultimately sedentary life post production. Urban legend purports that Steve McQueen ended up with the vehicle after the film was wrapped, but the ownership chain confirms this not to be the case. It was acquired by Hawaii Lincoln-Mercury dealer Jim Phlueger, who had by then already brought several Manx kits to the islands. He wanted to make a lighter weight, higher performance sand racer out of the Crown buggy, and had a local specialist remove the Corvair engine and original VW transmission in favor of a race-built 2.2-liter Volkswagen engine and another VW transaxle and it then spent several years bombing around the Honolulu area sands, prior to being traded to another owner who took it to Kauai, where it spent a fair amount of time sand racing and towing water skiers across the shallow, wide beaches at Hanalei Bay.

Mr. Phlueger and the consignor's father had previously done business together, and thus the former helped facilitate its subsequent acquisition by the latter. The Crown buggy then returned to Honolulu, where the current owner and consignor traded a handsomely restored Mini Cooper S plus a shotgun for it, absolutely intact but in somewhat sad shape. It didn't matter to the happy new owner, who was aware of the car being on the islands, and its rich film and McQueen history; he had always kept track of it, and was thrilled to finally own it, no matter its current state. The VW's racy engine was seized solid; the buggy by then wore several cheap, quick resprays, and so much of its copious chrome trim was rusted. The consignor's late wife took one look at the hapless Manx, as compared to the sparkling, freshly restored Mini they were giving up for it, asking her husband "are you really sure this is a good idea?" The historic Manx by then required a complete mechanical and cosmetic restoration, but instead it went on hiatus, as the owner wasn't yet ready to take on the project, so it sat stored in a warehouse and non-running for nearly two decades, out of circulation and the public eye.

In advance of consignment to Bonhams, the Thomas Crown custom Manx was fully disassembled for a complete, platinum level, concours quality restoration, with a particular eye being paid to authenticity and originality, returning it back to the moment that Steve McQueen first appeared on camera driving for the filming of The Thomas Crown Affair in 1968. The most significant aspect of the restoration was to refit the chassis with an original spec Corvair engine and a fresh VW transaxle. Acknowledging that the original, unserialized VW floorplan was damaged and replaced long ago, everything else was deeply cleaned, refurbished, mechanically freshened, and restored as necessary – this level of detail went down to reusing original nuts, bolts, and screws when and where possible, only replacing anything that absolutely couldn't otherwise be saved and redeployed. Any hardware that required replacement was done so with period correct pieces. Most of the hand fabricated and utterly bespoke chrome fittings were stripped clean and replated. Fortunately, the original paint lie preserved beneath those later paintjobs, thus the original tangerinish color and level of metallic could be identically matched. The instruments, a registration sticker on the windscreen (dated 1967), and countless small bits have been preserved to make the restoration as fresh, yet unfailingly original, as possible. You will also note that the Manx wears Massachusetts license plate number TC300, TC of course representing its somewhat mythical owner, Thomas Crown.

Fortunately, the buggy's unbroken ownership history and paper trail are present and authentic. And as such this simply amazing bit of movie, and further Steve McQueen history represents the last "big game" McQueen movie vehicle to break long term cover and be offered for sale into the market, as virtually any of the others are in known long term ownership, and/or not likely to be for sale any time soon, if ever, and most of the others have traded hands recently enough – wouldn't this make a spectacular entry should the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance ever host a Steve McQueen or Dune Buggy class? The Thomas Crown Affair McQueen Con-Ferr Meyers Manx brings intergalactic star power to any well curated vehicle, art, or pop culture collection.

Footnotes

  • Thank you Matt Stone for compiling this catalog description.
Contacts
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
<b>c.1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy</b><br />Chassis no. 117358054<br />Engine no. T0629RB
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please email us at [email protected]

Click here to consign your vehicle to a future auction.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

Please Note the Buyer's Premium for this auction is as follows:

The final bid (hammer) price of each lot will be subject to a buyer's premium. For MOTOR VEHICLE property the premium is 12% on the first $250,000 of the bid price and 10% on any amount of the bid price exceeding $250,000.

For AUTOMOBILIA and other non-motor vehicle property, the premium is 27.5% on the first $3,000 of the bid price, 25% of the amount exceeding $3,000, up to and including $400,000, 20% of the amount exceeding $400,000, up to and including $4,000,000, and 13.9% on any amount exceeding $4,000,000.

For the CHARITY lots 27 through 31, no buyer's premium will be charged.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit or charge card. Please note that only automobilia and/ or charity lots may be paid for by credit card and the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited. Credit cards may not be used to pay for motorcar purchases.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact the motoring department.

Special Car Dealer Notices

, number VI/1087220/1