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Types of Dune Buggies

Types of Dune Buggies

Dune buggies are a popular recreational vehicle that have been around for decades. These vehicles are designed for use on sand dunes, beaches, off road or desert recreation. They are typically lightweight and have large wheels and wide tires that allow them to navigate through sand with ease.

There are several types of dune buggies available on the market today, each with their own unique features and capabilities. Some of the most popular types include the Meyers Manx, Sandrail, and BMS V-Twin Buggy 800. Whether you’re looking for something small and inexpensive to tool around in or a desert-going supercar, there’s a dune buggy out there that will fit your needs.

History of Dune Buggies

Dune buggies have a rich history that dates back to the 1940s. They were originally built by beach and desert dwellers who wanted to explore the sandy terrain in a fun and exciting way. These early dune buggies were made by stripping down old jalopies and adding bigger engines and wider tires.

The first Volkswagen-based dune buggy can be credited to Scott McKenzie of San Fernando, California, who removed the Beetle’s body, shortened its chassis, mounted widened wheels and tires, and adapted a Corvair flat-six engine to it. In 1963, Joe Vittone of EMPI even designed and marketed a VW-based dune buggy kit that became very popular.

The most famous dune buggy is the Meyers Manx, which was designed by Bruce Meyers in 1964. The Manx was based on a shortened VW Beetle chassis and was the first dune buggy to have a fiberglass body. It quickly became popular due to its unique design and affordability. The Meyers Manx dune buggy is now a collector’s item and is considered a classic car.

Types of Dune Buggies

If you’re looking for a thrilling off-road experience, dune buggies are a great option. There are different types of dune buggies, each with its own unique features and benefits. In this section, we’ll explore the most common types of dune buggies.

Sand Rails

Sand rails are lightweight, high-performance dune buggies designed for sand dunes and desert terrain. They typically have a tubular steel frame, a mid-mounted engine, and long-travel suspension. Sand rails are fast, agile, and capable of tackling steep sand dunes. They are often used for racing and recreational purposes.

Fiberglass Dune Buggies

Fiberglass dune buggies are the most common type of dune buggy. They are made of fiberglass bodies mounted on a VW Beetle chassis. Fiberglass dune buggies are affordable, easy to maintain, and customizable. They are suitable for a wide range of terrains, including sand dunes, beaches, and rocky terrain.

Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs)

UTVs are off-road vehicles designed for work and play. They are larger and more powerful than traditional dune buggies, with four-wheel drive and advanced suspension systems. UTVs can carry passengers and cargo, making them ideal for hunting, farming, and other outdoor activities. They are also used for racing and recreational purposes.

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

ATVs are small, agile vehicles designed for off-road adventures. They have four wheels and are typically ridden like a motorcycle. ATVs are lightweight and easy to maneuver, making them ideal for exploring tight trails and steep hills. They are also used for racing and recreational purposes.

Key Features of Dune Buggies


Dune buggies come with a variety of engine types and sizes. The engine’s power determines the speed and performance of the buggy. Most dune buggies use air-cooled engines, which are reliable and durable. Some buggies have liquid-cooled engines that provide better performance and are suitable for high-speed driving. The engine’s displacement, horsepower, and torque are essential factors to consider when choosing a dune buggy.


The suspension system of a dune buggy is essential for its off-road performance. The suspension system absorbs shocks and vibrations, providing a smooth ride on rough terrain. Most dune buggies use independent suspension systems, which provide better handling and stability. The suspension travel, shock absorbers, and spring rates are crucial factors to consider when choosing a dune buggy.


Dune buggies require specialized tires that can handle sand, dirt, and other off-road terrain. The tires’ size, tread pattern, and construction are essential factors to consider when choosing a dune buggy. Most dune buggies use wide, low-pressure tires that provide better traction and flotation on sand. Some buggies have paddle tires that provide extra traction on sand dunes.

Safety Features

Dune buggies are designed for off-road use and can be dangerous if not equipped with proper safety features. The safety features of a dune buggy include seat belts, roll cages, and helmets. The seat belts should be three-point harnesses that secure the driver and passengers in case of an accident. The roll cage should be strong and sturdy to protect the occupants in case of a rollover. The helmet should be DOT-approved and provide adequate protection for the head and face.

Choosing the Right Dune Buggy

When it comes to choosing the right dune buggy, there are a few factors to consider. In this section, we’ll discuss the purpose of your dune buggy, your budget, and the type of terrain you’ll be driving on.


Before you start shopping for a dune buggy, it’s important to consider what you’ll be using it for. If you’re planning on using your dune buggy for recreational purposes, you may want to consider a two-seater model with a lower horsepower engine. On the other hand, if you plan on using your dune buggy for racing or more extreme off-road adventures, you may want to consider a model with a higher horsepower engine and a roll cage for added safety.


Another important factor to consider when choosing a dune buggy is your budget. Dune buggies can range in price from a few thousand dollars to well over $100,000. If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider a used dune buggy or a smaller model with fewer features. Keep in mind that while a lower-priced dune buggy may save you money up front, it may end up costing you more in repairs and maintenance down the line.


The type of terrain you’ll be driving on is also an important factor to consider when choosing a dune buggy. If you’ll be driving on mostly flat, sandy terrain, you may want to consider a model with large, wide tires for added traction. On the other hand, if you’ll be driving on rocky or uneven terrain, you may want to consider a model with a higher ground clearance and more durable tires.

Maintenance and Safety

Routine Maintenance

To keep your dune buggy running smoothly and safely, it’s important to perform routine maintenance. This includes checking the oil levels, inspecting the brakes, and ensuring that the tires are properly inflated. It’s also important to keep the air filter clean and to replace it as needed. Regularly cleaning the dune buggy and lubricating the moving parts can help prevent rust and corrosion.

Safety Precautions

When it comes to dune buggy safety, there are a few key precautions to keep in mind. First and foremost, always wear a helmet and seatbelt when driving. This can help protect you in the event of an accident or rollover. It’s also important to follow local laws and regulations regarding dune buggy use, including any required safety equipment such as headlights, taillights, and turn signals.

Before heading out on a ride, inspect the dune buggy for any signs of damage or wear, such as worn tires or faulty brakes. Always check the weather forecast and avoid driving in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or high winds. Finally, be sure to drive at a safe speed and avoid risky maneuvers such as sharp turns or sudden stops.

By following these routine maintenance and safety precautions, you can help ensure that your dune buggy runs smoothly and safely for years to come.

Popular Dune Buggy Brands

Dune buggies are a fun and exciting way to explore off-road terrain. Here are some of the most popular dune buggy brands:

  • Meyers Manx: One of the original and most iconic dune buggy brands, the Meyers Manx is known for its classic style and durability. The brand has been around since the 1960s and continues to be a popular choice for off-road enthusiasts.
  • Hammerhead Off-Road: Hammerhead Off-Road offers a range of dune buggies, from compact models for kids to larger, more powerful models for adults. The company is known for its high-quality construction and attention to safety features.
  • TrailMaster: TrailMaster is a popular choice for those looking for a more affordable dune buggy option. The brand offers a range of models, from small and lightweight to larger and more powerful, all at a reasonable price point.
  • BMS Motor: BMS Motor is a newer player in the dune buggy market, but has quickly gained a reputation for quality and innovation. Their V-Twin Buggy 800 model is a favorite among off-road enthusiasts for its power and performance.
  • Yamaha: While not exclusively a dune buggy brand, Yamaha offers a range of off-road vehicles, including the YXZ1000R SS SE, which is a popular choice for those looking for a high-performance dune buggy.

No matter what your budget or needs may be, there is a dune buggy brand out there for you.