Built in ’69: 1966 Allison Daytona Dune Buggy

Former Top Gear UK presenter James May said back in 2005 that in spite of the fact that it had been a privilege and perk of his work to drive some of the greatest cars ever built, the most utterly joyous of these was a Dune Buggy. Such praise is not unfounded, because the Dune Buggy transformed a no-nonsense people’s car into a vehicle that promoted fun and enjoyment. Some of the best buggies ever built came from the Allison Fiberglass Manufacturing Company of Daytona Beach. These were produced from the mid-1960s through to the mid-1970s. This particular Allison is a one-owner vehicle that is looking for a new home. Located in Rochester, New York, it is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Allison has reached $5,000, but the reserve hasn’t been met. There is a BIN option available, and this has been set at $14,000.

While this Dune Buggy has been listed as a 1966 model, it wasn’t actually built from its original kit until 1968. It displays all of the hallmarks that made these such an amazingly successful vehicle. The fiberglass body has been fitted to a VW Beetle chassis that has been shortened by 15″. The ET mag wheels are also original, but it is the body and finish that makes this something pretty special. When Ken Allison set out to create his vehicles, his overarching philosophy was that the quality needed to be as close to perfect as possible. As a result, the fiberglass was all laid by hand and was thicker than anything available on any contemporary buggy. This did make the Allison slightly heavier than its competitors, but it also left far greater scope to hand-finish each body in the search for perfection. This he achieved, and the Allison Daytona soon developed a reputation for this. Ken Allison was also well known as one of the best vehicle painters in his county, so it was only natural that the color choice and finish should be equally impressive. The Gel Coat used on these beasts was loaded up with plenty of metal-flake to provide a dazzling appearance, and the blue on this one is no exception. This contrasts nicely with the white decals and stripes, which would have been part of the original kit. Everything else of the buggy, from the windshield frame through to the lights looks to be original and is in excellent condition. The owner makes no reference to rust in the floors or frame, so hopefully, these are nice and solid.

Motive power for the Allison comes from a 1,600cc Volkswagen engine and 4-speed VW transaxle. That engine has been given a bit of a tickle, and now wears a lightened flywheel and dual Weber carburetors. The transaxle has been fitted with a close-ratio gear set, and the result is a vehicle that really gets up and goes. Having said that, it has been in storage for a while, so will probably require a full mechanical check and service to not only extract the best performance but to ensure that it is fully roadworthy.

A Dune Buggy was designed primarily for fun in the sun at the beach, so the interior trim and upholstery need to not only be hard-wearing but as close to waterproof as possible. The Allison does well in this area, but given its humble roots, the interior fit and finish are never going to rival that of a Cadillac. The seats that are fitted to this vehicle wouldn’t be original, but they look to be in nice condition. The dash houses the majority of what would have been the original Stewart Warner gauges, although the original tachometer has made was for a Sun-Tach. The steering wheel would also be original, and the interior just looks clean and tidy, and ready to serve the purpose that it was designed for.

By the mid-1970s, the Dune Buggy craze had just about run its course, and many of the manufacturers were beginning to head in a different direction. This was the case with Allison, where they had been working on the ongoing development of various MG replicas. Sadly, Ken Allison lost his life in a light plane crash in 1987, and while his sons attempted to keep the business operating, they simply didn’t possess the super-human levels of drive and energy of their father. By 1995, both sons had also passed away, and the Allison business was no more. As for the buggies themselves, all company records have been lost in time, but it is believed that somewhere between 400 and 600 kits or complete vehicles were built. The original molds have also been destroyed, meaning that the chances of replicas popping up are pretty limited. Ignoring all levels of practicality and common sense, I personally don’t see anything wrong with buying a car that is not only unusual and relatively rare but was created purely for the purpose of having fun. Can you?


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  1. Gaspumpchas

    Nice buggy- would need to look at the floorpan for ironworms.Especially in Roachester, NY. Not sure its worth 14 large but the buyer will set the value.
    Looker over good. Good luck to the new owner.

    Like 2
  2. rod444

    These buggies are great fun to drive and this one could even be Show and Shine material… but there’s no way they have appreciated to 14k because they are kits. There is no ‘lineage’ although there can be great, original condition.
    I bought one in California, where they are plentiful, in very good but not original condition for 3500 and there were dozens of very good looking buggies for sale at 5 – 7k and less. I wish him luck but I think the seller is dreaming at 14k.

    Like 3
  3. Art Pauly

    Nice looking buggy but the only ones that go over the $10K mark are original well done Meyers Manx, certified as original by Bruce Meyers. I agree with rod444, $3,500 maybe up to $5,000. 1600 is a good engine and this one looks like dual carbs but that “trumpet” exhaust, while popular, is very inefficient.

  4. Comet

    I recently got sticker shock pricing UTV’s. Their becoming popular around here on local public town roads as restrictions are becoming relaxed. They are still not legal for county or of course highway use. 25K plus for a fun UTV that will go fast enough to not get bored with after the first weekend. In comparison, if this buggy checks out (no rust) 14K is a bit stiff but it’s legal everywhere and probably a ton of fun.

    Like 1

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