When the gavel fell on Lot 119 on Saturday afternoon, a piece of cinematic history was claimed by new owners. Bonham’s auctioned off the 1967/68 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx Dune Buggy from the classic movie “The Thomas Crown Affair” to the highest bidder during the company’s annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance auction.
Before it was driven around by Hollywood heartthrob and noted automotive enthusiast Steve McQueen, the car was specially built for the movie. It’s an authentic Meyers Manx complete with a modified Volkswagen floor plan, chassis, and suspension. The exterior was been thoroughly customized for the movie by Con-Ferr as were the interior, exhaust, and wheels (American Racing Wheels). The seat frames are from a Datsun Fair Lady.
Actors Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen ride in a dune buggy in a scene from the movie “The Thomas Crown Affair” which was released on June 19, 1968.
Photo by Getty Images
The car is powered by a 2,683 cc lat six-cylinder Chevrolet Corvair engine and gets over 140 bhp. That’s well over the 40-125 bhp generally gotten from the traditional air-cooled Volkswagen flat-fours in the dune buggies at the time.
Originally, the script called for Crown to be driving a Jeep but McQueen nixed that idea after allegedly seeing the original Meyers Manx on the cover of a 1966 issue of “Hot Rod” magazine and thought it would be more his character’s style.
As part of the car’s listing, Bonham’s described McQueen’s affinity of the little car:
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.”
The car appears in a pivotal scene in “The Thomas Crown Affair” where McQueen and co-star Faye Dunaway take on sand dunes in the car. McQueen did all the driving for the film.
Post-production, the car lead a less exciting life, spending much of its time driving around Hawaii, living the beach life it was built for. For nearly two decades it sat in a warehouse then it was purchased, disassembled, and restored with concours-level precision.
Lot 119 sold for $456,000 including the premium.