By Bill S 2509 Date 2011-02-14 17:55 Edited 2011-02-14 18:01
I spoke with a gentleman who worked for Dune Buggy, Inc. from 1969 to 1983 on Friday and this is the history he gave me.
They had 3 models that they produced which were the Bandit (18 inch shortened vw chassis), the Carriage (full size vw chassis), and the Fargo (their truck looking body). All of their cars were built on donor chassis and they did not build a frame in house. The bandit was included in the Montgomery Wards catalog, however they did not sell very many cars. The bulk of their manufacturing operation was buggies they built for their own rental operations. They had several dune buggy rental companies in Florida and at their peak Dune Buggy, Inc. produced as many as 5 cars per week. They started out with the 1300cc engine and finished with the 1600cc engine when they stopped production.
After the Dune Buggy craze, they turned the company into Ultimate Mobility, Inc. and built electric cars. Currently they are still in business under a different name again and just received a $100 million grant from the Federal Govt. to produce electric motors. The current Bandit buggies built in California are not related to the original Bandit buggies. The original Bandit buggy name copyright that Dune Buggy, inc. held expired years ago according to this gentleman.
Some of the interesting things he told me was that Domino's Pizza bought Fargos from them that were fitted with a pizza oven on the truck bed portion and delivered pizzas in the Denver area for a while with them. They also produced a buggy that was used at Stapleton Airport in Denver as an airplane push vehicle. He also told me that they made a few boats during their Dune Buggy building days.
After learning this information, I think that a page for the Carriage should be added to the Registry pages. I have a Carriage and there is another one on here that I just saw. My Shrine Dune Buggy Club currently has the original Carriage mold so that we can produce more cars if we need to.
By Gary S 2283 Date 2011-02-18 06:08
More info is good.
I'm awfully sure the Bandit used a standard 14 1/2 inch cut in the pan, for an 80 inch wheelbase.
The third company name was "Unique Mobility", not "Ultimate Mobility". Was this your mistake, or is the former employee's memory a little iffy ?
Did the former employee know anything about the first company name of "Designers Manufacturing Inc", and the 6 versions of the Wolverine ?
Did he ever work at the old location on Sheridan ?
Did he have any recollections of the competition (in Denver), Titan Corporation, which made the Badger ?
By Bill S 2509 Date 2011-02-18 22:16 Edited 2011-02-18 22:21
The wrong name was my mistake. He may have said 80 inch and I thought I heard 18 inch. His memory is very good and he is 3 years younger than John Gould. He was one of the main operations managers if not the Director of Manufacturing. I did not get into many of the details you are asking about since I only had his ear for about 15 minutes. He did mention Designers Manufacturing Inc. and he mentioned two other names after it was Unique Mobility and the current name of the company UQM Technologies. He did remember that Carol Shelby was on their Board of Directors at one point. He left the company in 1983 due to a proxy dispute he had with the other shareholders. His brother was also a part of the company before he joined them in 1969. My contact worked at the manufacturing building for a while and then ran the rental operations in Florida for a while until he came back to Colorado to operate the test track that was just South of Castle Rock. He says he can even picture the wall that the wiring harness peg board was mounted on in the Warehouse. He said the warehouse workers were responsible for making the wiring harnesses for the buggies. My guess is he may still be a shareholder, as he is very familiar with what the current company is doing. He said the company has been to Englewood, Golden, Fort Morgan, and is now in Longmont, and had a different name for every move. The current company just won a $100 million contract to make electric motors. When I get my buggy put back together, I am going to take it to him to look at.
By Gary S 2283 Date 2011-02-19 06:11 Edited 2011-03-06 02:10
"Test track south of Castle Rock", as in Continental Divide Raceways ? That would be so cool. I've always been interested in the history of CDR. With some irony, I only attended one race there, and that was in 1983; probably the last race before it was destroyed.
I wonder if the dune buggies were tested on both the motocross track, and the road course. I could just bet somebody took pictures, and recorded statistics, but did they keep them ? I wonder if they tested Fargos by delivering pizzas in Castle Rock. LOL .
The former employee came back to "operate the test track". That has the sound of a full time job. I would think they just rented a few hours at a time.
By Bill S 2509 Date 2011-02-20 01:14
He said that they (Unique Mobility at that time) owned the property where they tested their electric vehicles. In his office is a 5 feet by 7 feet ariel view of the test track. They later sold the land to a developer who destroyed the track and then put in a road system. The developer never finished the project and now the roads down there are completly in ruin. The track was indeed the Continential Divde Raceway that you mentioned. If I remember correctly, racing stopped in 1979 and then briefly reopened in 1981. The track was sold to the developer in 1983 which matches to my contact leaving the company. Gary if you live in the Denver metro area we should get together and talk. It seems we both have a similar interest in Dune Buggy, Inc. and their history.
By Richard B 1514 Date 2011-02-20 06:48
Hey Bill, Do you know any more history on the Domino's Pizza Fargos? I actually found one of those original Domino Fargo's a while back. The story I got on mine was after Domino's retired some of the cars, a few were bought by other Pizza places. Mine still has "Peppy's Pizza" on the side of the Hardtop. That's the second pizza place who made use of the buggy. It's missing the long gone pizza oven/warmers that were in the back, as well as the propane tanks that were hidden in the side pods. The rest is still there...looks like a Fargo Camper. Thanks for anything else you might add.
By glassbuggy Date 2011-04-18 23:12 Edited 2011-04-18 23:32
Richard, There is a pizza chain near us called Januzzi's I talked to the guy wo delivered one day and he said they used to have one (he brought it up because he saw my buggy under the car port) Anyway this explains why they have a Fargo in their advertising. I'll post pics of the sign. It's unknown where their buggy went but they talked about putting it on top of the main pizza parlor at one time.
I do have some pics of a Fargo pizza buggy I saw on ebay awhile back and it say's Peppy's .I wonder if it's yours !!?? I also have pics or a Fargo that an Airport used to transport people to and fro ( w/Brat seats in back!)
By Richard B 1514 Date 2011-04-20 12:31
Hey Bart, the photo of the peppy's pizza buggy you have, is in fact, the one that I own. I got it off ebay a while back. I am quite fond of the goofy thing. I regret to say that it is in the same condition as when I first got it. I have other buggies on the priority list that I'm trying to get completed first. That Januzzi's Pizza sign is great. I guess when Domino's Pizza sold off their fleet of Fargo delivery buggies, they went all over. Or, maybe other pizza places built their own to copy the Domino's theme. Wouldn't it be great to find an old photo of a Fargo that has the Domino's advertising all over it.
By glassbuggy Date 2011-04-20 21:21
I have a few fargo camper box pics but can you get me some more of the box on yours , all I have is that shot from ebay?
By Richard B 1514 Date 2011-04-21 04:40
Yes, I will get some more photo's of it for you. maybe by the weekend.
By glassbuggy Date 2011-04-21 10:12
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