Volkswagen will seek damages from former executives accused in emissions fraud.

Volkswagen said on Friday that it would seek financial compensation from its former chief executive and the former head of the Audi division, accusing them of failing to act after learning that diesel vehicles sold in the United States were fitted with illegal emissions-cheating software.

The decision by the German carmaker’s supervisory board marks a turnabout. Volkswagen had been reluctant to publicly accuse former top managers of complicity in the emissions fraud, which has cost Volkswagen tens of billions of euros in fines, settlements and legal fees.

At the same time, the supervisory board said it found “no breaches of duty” by other executives who were members of Volkswagen’s management board in September 2015, when the scandal came to light.

That group includes Herbert Diess, now the chief executive of Volkswagen, who had joined the company two months earlier from BMW. Hans Dieter Pötsch, now chairman of the supervisory board, was chief financial officer and a member of the Volkswagen management board at the time, a position he had held for more than a decade.

Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive, failed “to comprehensively and promptly clarify the circumstances behind the use of unlawful software functions” after learning about the misconduct in July 2015.

Mr. Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the emissions fraud became public, also failed to ensure that questions by U.S. authorities “were answered truthfully, completely and without delay,” the supervisory board said. Shareholders suffered damages as a result, the board said, although it did not say how much money the company will try to recover.

Mr. Winterkorn’s lawyers said in a statement Friday that he denied the accusations and had done everything possible “to avoid or minimize damage” to Volkswagen.

The Volkswagen board said it also concluded that Rupert Stadler, former chief executive of the Audi luxury car division, was negligent because he failed to investigate the use of illegal software in diesel vehicles sold in the European Union.

Mr. Winterkorn and Mr. Stadler face criminal charges in Germany that revolve around the same circumstances. Mr. Winterkorn’s trial was scheduled to begin in April, but judges in the case postponed it this week until September, citing the pandemic.

Mr. Stadler has been on trial in Munich since last year on charges that, even after the wrongdoing came to light, he allowed Audi to continue selling cars that were programmed to recognize when an official emissions test was underway and dial up emissions controls to make the car appear compliant. The cars were not capable of consistently meeting pollution standards.

Mr. Stadler’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, Mr. Stadler has denied wrongdoing.

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Why The Paint Job on Your Car is Crucial to its Resale Value

In 2017, a new Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, resplendent in Soul Red Metallic paint, listed for $35,901. By 2020 that jaunty two-seater had an average resale value of $24,112. If finished in stolid Machine Gray Metallic paint, however, that same model fetched an average of $1,046 less, thanks to the color alone.

Because many other factors influence car value, color is easy to overlook. Yet both paint and car manufacturers maintain international departments of stylists and colorists who not only monitor what consumers are buying but — drawing from the fields of art, architecture, fashion, popular culture and consumer research — predict what people will want up to five years in the future.

Decisions are exasperatingly complex. A popular color for sedans might not work for sports cars. A hit color in Florida might tank in Michigan. According to iSeeCars, a search engine catering to car buyers, the worst color for S.U.V.s was beige, which lost 46 percent of its value over three years. For pickup trucks the best color was … beige. Beige pickups lost only 18 percent in value in the same time period.

The importance of color to cars is almost singular. It’s nothing to chuck a formerly fashionable fuchsia T-shirt, and you can repaint a room in a weekend. But repainting a car costs thousands and requires skilled technicians. With the possible exception of kitchen appliances, there are few color decisions as costly that consumers live with for as long. In a routinely quoted poll from 2000, 39 percent of car buyers said color was more important than brand.

An iSeeCars analysis compared list prices for new 2017 cars with their resale prices in 2020 to see which colors hold value best in different vehicle classes. In addition, some larger paint manufacturers publish annual color popularity reports and predictions for the coming year. Combined, they help draw broad rules for picking the best values in car colors. And while color doesn’t wholly determine a car’s value, if it’s not part of a buying decision, you might get stuck with a gray Miata.

Paint is also about durability, not just aesthetics. It was intended to prevent rust. Henry Ford famously offered customers “a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” Black paint was durable and inexpensive — and using a single color sped up production, said Matt Anderson, a curator at the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Mich.

“Popular myth says black was chosen because it dried fast,” he said, “but there’s no evidence that black dried any faster than dark greens or blues,” both among the colors that Ford initially offered.

By the mid-1920s, a DuPont paint formulation helped expand the palette, and color was used as a marketing device; General Motors’ Oakland Motor Car division advertised the True Blue Six model after its bright color in 1924. Even Ford Motor caved in when it needed a marketing boost in 1925.

“Colors then returned for the T’s final two model years in an effort to stimulate slumping sales,” Mr. Anderson said.

Cars came in more than a dozen hues by the mid-50s — the better to attract the female drivers of the family’s second car, the thinking went. Those colors became more vivid in the psychedelic ’60s.

Metal and paint technology upped rust resistance in the ’70s, and then a new process from Europe gained notice, said Clifford Schoff, a paint chemist who spent 30 years at the manufacturer PPG. Clear coating was about to arrive in America.

“We started hearing about the ‘wet look,’” Mr. Schoff said. “The color plus clear meant you kept a higher gloss for a longer time.”

Over the years, those technologies that improved the longevity of cars and paint may help explain the unprecedented 10-year run for white as the most popular color. Its functional advantages also help. White is good in hot climates and hides scratches and dings well, making it popular with fleet buyers.

“Rental car companies love white,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst for iSeeCars.

But, as the iSeeCars data shows, there is a big gap between what is popular and what retains value.

The 2020 Color Report from the paint provider Axalta (formerly DuPont) said fewer than 1 percent of new cars on lots in America were yellow. Yet iSeeCars data shows yellow retained the most value over all. An overwhelming 30 percent of cars on dealers’ lots are white, followed by 19 percent for both black and gray and 10 percent for silver.

It’s the law of supply and demand. “It’s not that yellow is a popular color. It’s that yellow is popular in relation to how many people want it,” Mr. Brauer said.

“You can’t go wrong buying the popular colors — black, white or silver — but you can’t go right, either,” he added. The most popular colors generally fall in the middle of the value chart.

Rarity alone doesn’t guarantee value. Purple, brown and gold are about as rare as yellow yet retain the least value over all.

There are other anomalies, such as the previously mentioned beige paradox. Trucks did well in muted colors, possibly because, as work vehicles, those hues show less dirt and company names painted on the sides are easy to read.

S.U.V.s did best in flashy colors, possibly because the drivers didn’t want to feel like drudges.

“You are buying the S.U.V. to avoid the minivan,” said Jonah Berger, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with expertise in marketing psychology. A lively color, he said, “makes us feel like: ‘I am driving a fun car. I am a fun, exciting person.’”

Apparently minivan owners are focused on utility. Blue retained the most value, losing 39 percent, but that wasn’t much different from the worst, brown, at 42 percent.

This makes it difficult to assess the “best” color for a car. It might be better to consider the best color for a type of buyer.

“People buy things for different reasons,” Mr. Berger said. “Sometimes we buy them for what they do. Sometimes we buy them for what they say about us.”

People who buy cars for utility, like minivan and fleet buyers, seem to value subtle colors that are easy to care for. People who buy a car as a personal statement — sports- and muscle-car owners­ — value glitzy colors.

That still complicates the paint choice for vehicles that defy categorization. Jeeps and trucks are utility vehicles for some and showpieces for others, who bolt on lift kits, light bars and custom grilles. The Jeep Wrangler retained the most value in Xtreme Purple, a color usually at the bottom of the overall chart. Purple Wranglers kept $2,398 more value than the same model in utilitarian silver.

Color prognosticators agree that the new color to reckon with is blue. Last year it accounted for 10 percent of cars on lots, equal to silver. But which blue? Dark? Light? Metallic? People who make a livelihood from car paint see vast differences between shades of a single hue, even mundane white.

“The white we have is not the white we had 20 years ago,” said Paul Czornij, head of color design for car paint at BASF. A carmaker might ask him for “a white metallic that is a little bluish, and from this grazing angle it has this property, and from this angle is has that property,” he added. “That is very exciting.”

For consumers, those fine points appear to have little effect on value. The iSeeCars data shows that metallic paint’s value advantage over nonmetallic is insignificant.

Ultimately, many buyers may choose paint color disregarding both value and popularity to achieve a third goal, Mr. Berger said: “Maybe having a color that’s different than white makes you happy.”

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Richard H. Driehaus, Champion of Classic Architecture, Dies at 78

Richard H. Driehaus, an avid investor who grew his grade-school coin collection into a fortune that he wielded to champion historic preservation and classical architecture, died on March 9 in a Chicago hospital. He was 78.

The cause was a cerebral hemorrhage, said a spokeswoman for Driehaus Capital Management, where, as chief investment officer and chairman, he had overseen some $13 billion in assets.

Mr. Driehaus (pronounced DREE-house) restored landmarks in the Chicago area and gave the city a palatial museum that celebrates the Gilded Age. He also established a $200,000 annual prize in his name for classical, traditional and sustainable architecture as a counterbalance to the $100,000 Pritzker Prize, funded by another Chicago family, which he viewed as a validation of modern motifs that were a “homogenized” rejection of the past.

He was immersed in the stock market from the age of 13, took nosebleed gambles on risky rising stocks, and in 2000 was named one of the 25 most influential mutual fund figures of the 20th century by Barron’s.

Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in 2012.

“The problem is there’s no poetry in modern architecture,” he said in an interview with Chicago magazine in 2007. “There’s money — but no feeling or spirit or soul. Classicism has a mysterious power. It’s part of our past and how we evolved as human beings and as a civilization.”

Asked whether he considered buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, for example, to be appropriate, he told Architectural Record in 2015: “They’re mechanical, industrial, not very human. It’s like my iPhone, which is beautiful, but I wouldn’t want the building I live in to look like that.” He added: “Architects build for themselves and build for the publicity. They don’t really care what the public thinks.”

The first Richard H. Driehaus Prize, presented through the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, was awarded in 2003 to Léon Krier, a designer of Poundbury, the model British town built according to the Prince of Wales’s architectural principles. The first American laureate, in 2006, was the South African-born Allan Greenberg, who redesigned the Treaty Room Suite at the State Department.

Philanthropy magazine in 2012. “What my dad couldn’t do, I wanted to do.”

he decided that “this was the industry for me” and invested the money he made from delivering The Southtown Economist in stocks recommended by financial columnists. The stocks tanked, teaching him to research each company’s growth potential on his own.

He flunked out of the University of Illinois at Chicago, enrolled in Southeast Junior College and then transferred to DePaul, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1965 and a master’s in business administration in 1970. He worked for the investment bank A.G. Becker & Company, becoming its youngest portfolio manager, and for several other firms before starting his own, Driehaus Securities, in 1979. He founded Driehaus Capital Management in 1982.

He married when he was in his early 50s; the marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by three daughters, Tereza, Caroline and Katherine Driehaus, and two sisters, Dorothy Driehaus Mellin and Elizabeth Mellin.

“I never did anything until I was 50,” Mr. Driehaus told The New York Times in 2008. “I spent my early years making money for my clients. Now I’m ready to have some fun.”

He did, staging his own extravagant themed birthday parties for hundreds of guests at his mansion on Lake Geneva (at one gala, he made his grand entrance on an elephant) and indulging his passion for collecting.

He started with furnishings he provided to a bar called Gilhooley’s, then moved on to decorative arts and art nouveau for the landmark Samuel M. Nickerson mansion, a palazzo that he restored as the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. He also amassed a fleet of vintage automobiles.

He gave as good as he got, several hundred million dollars’ worth — to DePaul and to Chicago theater and dance groups, Catholic schools and other organizations often overlooked by major philanthropies. And he felt quite at ease being a very big fish in what he acknowledged was a smaller pond — but a more hospitable one.

“In New York, I’m just another successful guy,” he told the City Club of Chicago in 2016. “You can’t make an impact in New York. But in Chicago you can, because it’s big enough and it’s small enough and people actually get along enough.”

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How Volkswagen’s Sins Fueled Its Redemption

Christian Strenger, a vocal Volkswagen critic and a former member of the commission that wrote Germany’s corporate governance code, sees little chance the company’s overseers will expose themselves to more scrutiny. The supervisory board has only one member out of 20 who is not a representative of the three main shareholders or Volkswagen employees.

“Nothing will change as long as the old guard is there,” Mr. Strenger said.

The diesel scandal remains a financial burden. The company disclosed in its annual report this week that potential liabilities from lawsuits, such as one by shareholders claiming the company misled them, could cost 4.2 billion euros, or $5 billion. That is in addition to the tens of billions of euros Volkswagen has already paid in fines and settlements since 2017 after admitting that it programmed diesel cars to produce lower emissions in testing conditions than in normal use.

Investors this week were focusing on Volkswagen’s future rather than its past.

In a series of appearances starting Monday, Mr. Diess and other executives outlined a 35 billion plan to build six battery factories, install a global network of charging stations and employ 10,000 software engineers to work on autonomous driving and other new technologies. Volkswagen would become the biggest software company in Europe after SAP, the German maker of software used by corporations to manage functions like logistics and finance.

Volkswagen’s voting shares ended the week up 20 percent in Frankfurt trading and have risen 75 percent since December, despite the company’s reporting a 37 percent drop in net profit for 2020 after the pandemic gutted sales. Since 2015, the shares have more than tripled.

Volkswagen also benefited from a report issued this month by analysts at UBS, the Swiss bank, which rated it as the traditional carmaker best positioned to compete with Tesla because it already has the ability to mass-produce electric cars economically.

Volkswagen’s advantage goes back to the decision made at that meeting in 2015, weeks after the emissions scandal became public.

The executives authorized development of a collection of mix-and-match components that would serve as the basis for a range of electric models including sedans, S.U.V.s and vans. The standardized platform, called the Modular Electrification Toolbox, could also be used by other company brands, including Audi.

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Gasoline use has probably topped out as consumer habits shift.

The world’s thirst for gasoline may never return to pre-pandemic levels, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

Greater fuel efficiency, the growing shift toward electric vehicles and changing transportation habits are expected to weigh on gasoline use in the years ahead, even as consumption recovers from last year’s 11 percent drop caused by lockdowns and other restrictions.

Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director, has used his role to push for a shift to cleaner energy to help tackle climate change. He said at a news conference Wednesday that it would be “very unlucky” if gasoline use returned to 2019 levels.

The agency said that gasoline consumption was expected to increase strongly in emerging markets like China and India in the next few years, but that beginning in 2023 it would likely decline in the large industrialized economies.

Oil 2021 and published Wednesday, said that the pandemic had set off changes in consumer behavior and that governments were making stronger efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Although gasoline consumption may have peaked, the report predicted that oil demand would probably increase in the coming five years, but growth would be much slower than forecast before the pandemic. In the agency’s view, oil consumption would reach 104.1 million barrels a day in 2026 compared with 99.7 million barrels a day in 2019.

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A Postwar Mercedes, Still Overshadowed by Its Racing Cousins

After World War II, Mercedes-Benz wanted to re-establish its position in the automotive hierarchy, to create a car that, in the words of the board chairman at the time, Wilhelm Haspel, “gold-plates the name Mercedes-Benz again.”

The brand’s place in the German market had been devastated by a long pause in vehicle development while it produced munitions for the Nazis, and by Allied bombing of its factories. Its place in the European market had been corroded by this wartime collusion, including its widespread use of conscripted labor from concentration camps. And it barely had a presence in North America.

It persevered through the late 1940s, like many global automakers, with slightly updated versions of prewar designs, in its case the 170, a rather unremarkable coupe with a small four-cylinder engine.

“This was a very basic model, the 170,” said Michael Kunz, the director of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, Calif., a company subsidiary dedicated to the history, preservation and restoration of the brand’s vintage products, which date back to 1886. “Historically, we are not known as a basic-car company, so it was important to show a resurrection as a leading producer of luxury goods and highly engineered vehicles.”

Mercedes 300 sedan and convertible. Revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the spring of 1951, the 300 sported a stately design, with a prominent chrome grille, a long formal hood, bulbous fenders that flowed into and out of the front and rear doors, a capacious cabin lined in quality materials, and a tapered rear. It was the largest and fastest production car in West Germany, known in Mercedes’s parlance as a “Representative Class” vehicle.

“These were typically cars that were driven and owned by captains of industry and heads of state,” Mr. Kunz said. “Absolutely the best of the best.”

Brian Rabold, vice president for valuation services at the classic vehicle insurer Hagerty, concurs. “These would have been comparable to a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud or Bentley R-Type,” he said.

They could be had with radio telephones, dictation machines, writing desks, intercoms, partitions between driver and passengers, and custom trim finishes. “If the party ordering it wanted it, the factory would make every attempt to accommodate it,” Mr. Kunz said.

The pope was chauffeured in a specially constructed Landaulet version, with a retractable top over just the rear compartment — a space that contained a single thronelike seat.

300b of 1954 upped power to 125 horses. The 300c of 1955 offered the brand’s first automatic transmission, a must for introduction into the American marketplace.

And the 300d of 1957 added a more modern and rectilinear body that incorporated a nine-inch stretch, nearly half of which went to the rear passenger compartment. It also shed the side window pillars. This gave the car a grand and airy profile, enhanced by its new fuel-injected engine, which produced 160 horsepower.

“From a power perspective, they’re not sports cars,” Mr. Kunz said of the Adenauers, which weighed over two tons. He characterized them instead as ideal autobahn cruisers. “It takes a while to get there, but you can go 90 miles per hour no problem,” he said.

This is in part because the car’s engine, and other drivetrain bits, was shared with another stellar postwar Benz. “They provided much of the technology that was used to produce the 300 SL,” Mr. Kunz said, referring to the remarkably advanced Mercedes Gullwing racecar and coupe of the mid-1950s.

The fact that Adenauers are not sports cars has helped keep their values approachable. “They violate a couple core collector car principles,” Mr. Rabold said. “They have four doors, instead of two. And they’re more grand touring, rather than sporting.”

He continued: “I think that it comes down to an emphasis on craftsmanship instead of showmanship. They’re very refined cars, but they’re subtle in their refinement.”

Thus, according to Hagerty, while “average” Gullwings are $900,000 cars, and top-notch ones can fetch $1.2 million, average Adenauers run around $42,000, and perfect ones can be had for under $100,000.

Also contributing to the 300’s limited collectability is the cost of maintaining and repairing one.

“With these cars, there’s more of everything,” Mr. Kunz said. “A lot of chrome, a tremendous amount of leather, complicated and very beautifully done wood on the interiors. If you have a convertible, the padded roof, a very large roof, there are issues with that.”

He went on: “And they have a very complicated body structure with very tight tolerances. When I show the car to someone, I always say look at the transition from front fender to the front door, and look at what the gaps are. The gaps are like two or three millimeters. It’s challenging to get that right.”

The current retail values of these cars thus don’t support the expense of high-end restorations, which can run well into six figures.

“There was one sedan we did where the customer brought it to us in very poor shape,” Mr. Kunz said. “He said, ‘I know I should have my head examined for restoring this,’ but he had owned the car for many years, and that was the emotional bond. He saw himself as steward of the car, and felt it was his responsibility to do it.”

That value proposition might be shifting. “We show that values on these have gone up around 25 percent over the past two years,” Mr. Rabold said.

This has been pushed in part by increased interest from an atypical audience. To measure interest and appeal, Hagerty tracks insurance quote requests on specific vehicles, with the idea that if someone is seeking coverage for a particular car, that person is either preparing to buy one or has just bought it.

“In 2018, Gen Xers accounted for only 12 percent of quotes on Adenauer Mercedes,” Mr. Rabold said. “But in 2020, that was 32 percent. So that shows that there’s some youth appeal, and I think that’s what’s contributing in part to values going up, as they start to be discovered a little more.”

If you’ve been in the market, it’s a good time to buy, especially if you find a car that someone else has paid to bring back to life.

“These are a really great combination of luxury and engineering. They’re overbuilt. They’re really quality cars,” Mr. Rabold said. “If you can find a restored one of these, it’s a great value.”

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A Legendary Designer Strikes Out on His Own to Redesign Legends

Ian Callum, the noted automotive designer, has started a new company, simply named Callum Design. It could just as easily be called Unfinished Business.

Mr. Callum believes there is still mileage left, so to speak, in some notable car designs, and his shop intends to bring certain models of yesteryear forward and show how they retain their vitality in the modern world.

“We are in the business of reimagining,” said Mr. Callum, 66, who has been working out of his design shop in Warwick, England, since retiring in 2019 after two decades as Jaguar Land Rover’s top designer. To date, he and his team of stylists, engineers and fabricators have “reimagined” the Aston Martin Vanquish and the Jaguar Mark 2; most recently they’ve announced a second-generation Corvette project.

“Some stories,” he noted with a wink during an online press event, “are better the second time told.”

Bill Mitchell and Harley Earl were more than designs — they were almost the exaggeration of design,” he said, referring to two mid-20th-century General Motors designers. “Expressive, glamorous, the essence of America. Or Hollywood.”

To illustrate his point, he revealed that he had bought a 1956 Chevy from eBay Motors, late one night on an impulse. “I clicked on ‘Buy It Now’ — the seller was in Cleveland,” he said. “He was extremely surprised at who wanted to buy it and where I wanted it shipped. But he agreed.”

Mr. Callum subsequently heaped an enormous amount of love, and subtle design and engineering improvements, upon that cherry-red classic, and perhaps that helped point him toward his newest venture. (His private collection also includes a ’32 Ford and a ’93 Mini.)

Mr. Callum’s first reimagined design involved “bringing forward” his own work on the award-winning Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish V12 — cars that were in production largely unchanged from the early 1990s to 2018. That’s an eternity in the automotive world.

“The Vanquish was perfect for its time, but it could be better,” he said. “I know, because I designed it.”

So he has tried to visualize how the design and engineering could be advanced, unconstrained by corporate edicts on model life spans and the pence-pinching of an accounting department.

The result is the Vanquish 25, of which — as the number suggests — 25 are being built and made available for sale. The asking price is negotiable, because prospective buyers can suggest bespoke details. Figure the bottom line would be somewhere north of half a million dollars. Despite that, Mr. Callum characterized business as “brisk.”

William Lyons, and asked about a position in the company’s design studio. Incredibly, Lyons wrote him back and advised him to study technical drawing.

So it makes a certain amount of sense — especially given his dream-come-true stint as head of Jaguar design — that Mr. Callum would try his hand at reimagining a more relevant Mark 2 for 2021 and beyond. The Callum Mk 2 is a real head-turner — at first a ringer for the original but, parked next to one, an obvious upgrade, albeit a stunning one.

This is another Callum Design limited offering with what some people might consider a staggering asking price, starting upward of $600,000, plus a donor car.

Yet buyers to date hail from Europe, the Middle East and even the United States, where the reimagined models aren’t technically road-legal.

Mr. Callum’s latest project could be his most ambitious so far: a thoroughly modernized version of the second-generation Chevrolet Corvette, which was in production from 1963 to 1967. He’s working with one of the car’s original designers, Peter Brock, 84, who sketched the original split-window coupe back in 1957.

The project is calling the vehicle Ava, which stands for the Latin phrase ad vitam aeternam, meaning “to eternal life.”

Ava will offer “hypermodern performance enveloped in the body and soul of a classic,” Mr. Callum said.

“It is a hugely exciting undertaking,” he said in unveiling the first design renderings. “We want to write a new chapter in this car’s story, using Peter’s original concept and vision, with Callum Design’s expertise in creation and engineering.”

Ava, which is to be built in Ireland, will be electrically powered, capable of producing 1,200 to 2,000 horsepower. The asking price, still being worked out, could reach $2.4 million.

Mr. Callum is coy about what else might be on his future projects list, but it would not be surprising to see something related to the 1965 Buick Riviera. “That car is still spellbinding to look at,” he said. “It is my personal favorite; it will never get old.”

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Bruce Meyers, Who Built the First Fiberglass Dune Buggy, Dies at 94

Bruce Meyers, who used his skills as a boat builder to invent the first fiberglass dune buggy, igniting the late-1960s craze for off-road riding, and thrived until copycats flooded the market, died on Feb. 19 at his home in Valley Center, Calif. He was 94.

The cause was myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood cancer, said his wife, Winnifred (Baxter) Meyers.

Mr. Meyers’s invention got a big promotional boost after he and a friend drove the Meyers Manx (named for the cat with a stub of a tail) to a time record over nearly 1,000 miles of the rough roads of the Baja California Peninsula in 1967. The victory proved the vehicle’s viability and made an aging beach boy the darling of off-road devotees.

“Go back to the lifestyle I lived when I came into this thing,” he said in a 2017 interview with Motorward, an automotive website. “It wasn’t about higher learning or education, but just about having fun.”

Mr. Meyers was a surfer in Southern California with a fine-arts education who in the late 1950s and early ’60s watched four-wheel-drive Jeeps struggle for traction on sand dunes.

he told The National, an newspaper in Abu Dhabi, in 2012. “Maybe my instincts when I was creating the dune buggy were guided by my memories.”

For 18 months, he worked in his small garage in Newport Beach to create the Meyers Manx. He removed a Beetle’s body, shortened its floor section, then bolted on a one-piece fiberglass shell (with fenders, sides and a front hood area) that was moldable and lightweight but sturdy.

He completed the Beetle-turned-Manx in 1964, making it light and quick, with a shorter turning radius and greater traction than the dune buggies that preceded his. He named his creation Old Red for its paint job.

A cover article in Road & Track, which chronicled the wild Baja adventure, jump-started orders for the kits. But demand eventually overwhelmed the ability of Mr. Meyers’s company to produce the kits —- he insisted that he was not a businessman — and rivals made knockoffs of his design.

Mr. Meyers turned out more than 5,000 kits, but it was estimated that at least 20 times as many faux Meyers Manxes were produced. He lost a legal fight against a copycat manufacturer to uphold his patent on a “sand vehicle.” In 1971, he shut down B.F. Meyers & Company.

“It took 10 years before I could hear the words ‘dune buggy’ and not get furious,” he told Car and Driver in 2006.

And almost three decades before he returned to the business.

Bruce Franklin Meyers was born in Los Angeles on March 12, 1926. His father, John, helped set up car dealerships for Henry Ford. His mother, Peggy, was a song plugger.

Mr. Meyers dropped out of high school to join the merchant marine and volunteered for the Navy during World War II. He was serving aboard the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill when it was attacked by two Japanese kamikaze aircraft on May 11, 1945, near Okinawa. He recalled jumping into the water as the burning carrier started to sink; he gave a sailor his life jacket and helped a badly burned pilot until they were rescued by a destroyer hours later.

In the carnage, 346 sailors and airmen died, 264 were wounded and 43 were missing.

“I spent almost a month coming back with a skeleton crew, pulling the dead men out of the ship,” Mr. Meyers told The National.

Manx 2+2 and the Manx SR.

The couple sold the company in November to Trousdale Ventures, an investment firm.

“He was 94,” Winnie Meyers said by phone, “and I had to stop.”

1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX2287) inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register, an eight-year-old project detailing the historic and cultural significance of American vehicles. The register is a collaboration between the Historic Vehicle Association, an owner group, and the Department of the Interior.

In a nod to Mr. Meyers’s ingenuity and his business woes, the register said the Meyers Manx was “the inspiration for over 250,000 similar cars manufactured by other companies, and is thus the most replicated car in history.”

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