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Sixties Surf Style, 21st-Century Green: VW Buggy Up Concept

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Back in in the Swinging Sixties, a small, light, fiberglass car was making a big splash up and down the West coast.

That car was the Meyers Manx buggy, a Volkswagen Beetle-based buggy with very little in the way of bodywork but a heck of a lot of style, the brainchild of Californian Bruce Meyers.

The world might now be a different place but people still love the feeling of freedom the buggy brought, so it's no surprise that Volkswagen has brought out the Buggy Up concept, a sixties throwback with all the economy and low emissions of the 21st-Century Up minicar.

The Buggy Up went on display at the recent 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, alongside several other unique Up-based concepts.

With its bright orange bodywork and lack of doors, the Buggy Up certainly has strong echoes of Bruce Meyers' sixties classic, while displaying a strong family resemblance to the car its based on - something that couldn't be said about the original.

Also unlike the original are the dimensions. Most Manx buggies were based on a shortened Beetle floorpan, but the Buggy Up is a few inches longer than the 11.6-foot Up and just over an inch wider. It's also lower which gives it a squat, dynamic stance on its large 18-inch alloy wheels.

With only a bikini-style roof, no doors and less trunk space than the regular Up it's not what you might call a practical machine, but a split tailgate and luggage rack would make it perfect for a day at the beach.

Underneath the wild body all the regular Up's mechanical components are present and correct, which means a 3-cylinder, 1.0-liter gasoline engine powering the front wheels. As a concept, Volkswagen doesn't provide many details, but the regular Up will have 59- and 74-horsepower engine options.

With open-top aerodynamics we couldn't see it matching the standard Up's 56 MPG economy, but even so it should comfortably beat the 30 MPG 1960s and 1970s Beetles managed, while producing vastly lower emissions and more performance.

Unfortunately - but not unexpectedly - there are no production plans, and North America probably won't even get the regular Up making it another "forbidden fruit", but we love the Buggy Up's simple sense of fun.

It goes to show - to enjoy 1960s style with 21st-Century green living might not mean having to spend 21st-Century green...

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