Exclusive: Missing dune buggy from Steve McQueen’s ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ reappears as it undergoes restoration

Exclusive: Missing dune buggy from Steve McQueen's 'The Thomas Crown Affair' reappears as it undergoes restoration

‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ dune buggy reappears

Fox Data solely found that the 1960’S Meyers Manx Dune Buggy from Steve McQueen’s “The Thomas Crown Affair” nonetheless exists and is presently current course of a full restoration, with plans to unveil it later this 12 months.

This 12 months marks the 50th anniversary of Steve McQueen’s conventional thriller “Bullitt,” nonetheless it wasn’t the one movie he starred in that 12 months. “The Thomas Crown Affair” debuted first, this very week in 1968.

In it, he carried out a bored millionaire who masterminds a monetary establishment heist and turns into romantically involved with the insurance coverage protection investigator, carried out by Faye Dunaway, despatched to catch the criminals behind it.

The rich and fashionable Crown can be the great reverse of McQueen’s gritty Detective Frank Bullitt, nonetheless the flicks do have one factor in widespread: Prolonged misplaced automobiles.

“Bullitt” had its inexperienced Ford Mustang, which disappeared from most people eye in 1980s and didn’t resurface until the family that owned it launched it to the Detroit Auto Current this earlier January. There was moreover a digicam automotive mannequin used throughout the making of the film, and it was by probability present in a Mexican junkyard closing 12 months. Discuss good timing.

Within the meantime, “Crown” featured a a lot much less well-known, nonetheless oh-so-1960’s Meyers Manx dune buggy in a scene shot on a Massachusetts seashore, the place McQueen and Dunaway blasted spherical in it on the dunes. Its whereabouts had moreover been unknown for a few years. Until now.

Fox Data has solely found that the Manx nonetheless exists and is presently current course of a full restoration, with plans to unveil it later this 12 months. The proprietor of the automotive prefers to remain anonymous until then, nonetheless has shared the story of how he acquired his arms on it and what it’s been as a lot as all this time.

After filming was full, the pink Manx was shipped to California and saved at United Artists, the manufacturing agency behind the film. “Movie automobiles” weren’t loads of an element once more then and, as with the Mustang, it wasn’t considered to be somewhat greater than an earlier prop.

It did be a focus for 1 fanatic in Hawaii named Jimmy Pflueger. He’s well-known himself for opening the first Honda automotive dealership in america, nonetheless spent the ultimate years of his life dealing with the approved aftermath of a controversial dam collapse on a property he owned that resulted in seven fatalities. He died closing 12 months at age 91.

Pfleuger seen the movie and most well-liked the automotive lots that he known as the company, made a proposal, and the next issue he knew it was on a PanAm flight to Hawaii, nonetheless full of salt and sand from Crane Seashore. Nonetheless he didn’t buy it to put proper right into a museum.

In its place, he despatched it to his mechanic, Lance Richards, and requested him to prep it for some grime observe racing. And what Richards did to it’d give a preservationist a coronary coronary heart assault.

The VW Beetle-based buggy had been custom-made for the film by Con-Ferr Manufacturing, an off-road tools agency in Burbank that put in a Chevy Corvair flat-six, added chrome racks and bumpers, and gave it a snazzy Naugahyde-upholstered inside that was turning into of the swinging sixties.

Richards was having none of that. He stripped out the flowery trim to lighten it up, took off the physique, sandblasted the chassis and swapped in a VW 2180 racing motor. Then he took it to a observe the place it obtained its first race and nearly each after it, if Pflueger’s recollections could also be believed.

Finally, Pflueger found totally different toys to play with and traded the Manx for a 1966 Mini Cooper S and a shotgun to a distinct collector, who saved it in storage for a number of years. And that’s the place the model new proprietor is out there in.

He and buddy had acknowledged about “The Purple Automotive” since they’d been kids, and dreamed of buying it eventually. So when an opportunity to do that launched itself, he jumped on the chance.

As is often the case with problem automobiles, however, he put it away throughout the mid-1990s, and left it there until closing 12 months, when the approaching anniversary of the film impressed him and his buddy to lastly get it once more to its on show display screen glory.

The objects Richards discarded are prolonged gone, nonetheless they’ve a specialist on the mainland engaged on it now who’s holding the distinctive elements which will be nonetheless on it and sourcing as many real replacements as attainable, every magnificence and mechanical.

The one issue nonetheless missing is a bill of sale or a letter from United Artists which will cement its provenance, and present that it’s not merely one in all many many replicas which have been constructed over time. Nonetheless there’s the next smartest factor.

Bruce Meyers, the one who created the Manx, has simply these days seen the automotive in particular person and he confirmed by way of his partner to Fox Data that it’s the true article.

Nonetheless, naysayers will always exist, and the hunt continues for documentation, nonetheless the problem is transferring ahead with or with out it. If all goes correctly, you’ll be able to resolve its authenticity to your self when its unveiled to most people this fall.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com’s Automotive Editor.

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