Thursday, June 28, 2018

one of 'The Thomas Crown Affair' dune buggy gets a restoration

After filming was complete, the red Manx was shipped to California and stored at United Artists, the production company behind the film. “Movie cars” weren’t so much of a thing back then and, as with the Mustang, it wasn’t considered to be much more than an old prop.

It did catch the eye of one enthusiast in Hawaii named Jimmy Pflueger. He’s famous himself for opening the first Honda car dealership in the United States, but spent the last years of his life dealing with the legal aftermath of a controversial dam collapse on a property he owned that resulted in seven fatalities. He died last year at age 91.

Pfleuger saw the movie and liked the car so much that he called the company, made an offer, and the next thing he knew it was on a PanAm flight to Hawaii, still full of salt and sand from Crane Beach. But he didn’t buy it to put into a museum.

Instead, he sent it to his mechanic, Lance Richards, and asked him to prep it for some dirt track racing. And what Richards did to it might give a preservationist a heart attack.

The VW Beetle-based buggy had been customized for the film by Con-Ferr Manufacturing, an off-road accessories company in Burbank that installed a Chevy Corvair flat-six, added chrome racks and bumpers, and gave it a snazzy Naugahyde-upholstered interior that was fitting of the swinging sixties.

Richards stripped out the fancy trim to lighten it up, took off the body, sandblasted the chassis and swapped in a VW 2180 racing motor. Then he took it racing.

Eventually, it was traded for a 1966 Mini Cooper S and a shotgun. And that’s where the new owner comes in.

He and a friend had known about “The Red Car” since they were kids, and dreamed of buying it one day. So when an opportunity to do that presented itself, he jumped at the chance in the mid-1990s, and left it in storage until last year, when the approaching anniversary of the film inspired him to finally get it back to its on screen glory.

Since another Meyers Manx from the Thomas Crown Affair was at the 2014 Art Center College car show...

... I'm not sure what is the real story. We all know more than one car is used in a movie, so, maybe both are legit, however, Road and Track verifies that this was the TCA Manx

above, crap music but high res scenes from the Thomas Crown Affair dune buggy scenes.

Below, Steve talking about the Manx, but crap resolution

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