The Taj Ma Garaj Collection | Lot 373
1971 Mangosta Sport Buggy
$106,400 USD | Sold
| Dayton, Ohio
28 September 2019
- One of just six believed to have been built
- Thought to be the final production example
- Used as the original promotional and marketing car
- Discovered by VW expert Randy Carlson
- Featured in VW Trends magazine, September 2004
Though originally intended as a serious small car packed with surprising utility, the Volkswagen Beetle rapidly took on a funner role. Some were raced, some were customized, and many were simply loaded up with surfboards for a day at the beach. It took Californian Bruce Meyers to combine the three with his original Meyers Manx, which would quickly become known as the quintessential dune buggy. The cars were intentionally basic, with little in the way of features short of the driver’s smile.
Detroit-area car designer Karl Krumme had another idea: an upscale model with a deep metallic paint scheme, quilted upholstery, and with no shortage of chrome and accessories. He called his creation the Mangosta Sport Buggy and set up shop in Ventura, California, to build them in the early 1970s. Unfortunately, Krumme came a little late to the game, and his cars carried an unfathomably hefty price tag. Predictably, only a handful were built.
This example, which is believed to be the last such Sport Buggy built, was used by Mangosta for marketing and promotional purposes. However, after lackluster sales, the company closed up shop, and the buggy was stashed away in a warehouse, hardly driven and never registered. The Mangosta eventually ended up with the famous Movie World Cars of the Stars collection of Jim Brucker in Santa Paula, California. Sometime thereafter it was acquired by another prolific collector in Santa Barbara, under whose ownership it continued to sit and collect dust.
It wasn’t until 2003 when well-known enthusiast and Volkswagen expert Randy Carlson stumbled upon the car while responding to an ad for a VW Squareback. Randy was amazed to discover such an incredibly original and unmolested buggy, and an exceedingly rare one at that. He was equally impressed by the thrill and speed of the machine. So much so that, as a father, he decided it best belonged with a more careful owner, which he found in John Dixon and the Taj Ma Garaj.
The metallic root-beer-brown gel coat drips with ’70s charm, as it should, since it was the company’s marketing showpiece. Orange, white, and green stripes run around the entire tube. Deep mud-plugging tires mounted on chrome Cragar wheels give it both purpose and elegance. Its interior is comparatively opulent, with quilted brown vinyl trim draped over every surface. Front-seat passengers are treated to deep racing-style seats, and an upholstered rear area is ready for a couple of friends or perhaps a cooler stocked with supplies.
So quintessential is this Mangosta Sport Buggy that it even made an appearance in the Hollywood shock flick Revenge of the Cheerleaders, a movie that could only have been made in the ’70s. If ever there was an automotive icon of an era, the Mangosta Sport Buggy may have been it.