In 1964, Bruce Meyers invented the brightly colored, fiberglass bodied Meyers Manx buggy kits that attached to a shortened VW Beetle chassis. Bruce’s invention became extremely popular because of the eye-catching design and dual-purpose capabilities both street and off-road. As a result, with consumer demand so high, many individuals and companies copied or cloned his design. From the late 60s to early 70s, these Manx/Manx Type buggies were part of American pop culture: movies, cartoons, art, etc. As a result, most people associate a dune buggy with these types of cars.
The term sandrail also emerged in the late 1960s and was typically associated with non-V8 powered buggies. These were purpose-built cars optimized just for running sand dunes. Over time the sandrail terminology evolved. The term pan buggy or tunnel buggy was used to differentiate from the full tube/cage chassis sandrails. A pan buggy typically used a shortened VW Beetle pan/chassis. When the floor pans were removed and replaced with an alternative (e.g. expanded metal), the remaining structural part was the tunnel, thus the term tunnel buggy.
By the mid-1970s, the most common buggies were VW powered sandrails. The hot set up was a very lightweight frame/chassis designed to mid-mount the VW powertrain. The engine and transaxle were rotated such that the engine faces the front of the buggy while the transaxle faces the rear of the buggy. This provided superior weight balance and handling. This design remained popular through the 1990s.
By the late 1990s, the desert racing shock technology found its way into the sandrail scene. These shock packages provide longer suspension travel, thus the terms mid-travel and long-travel buggies.