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Disney to Daytona in a hot-pink dune buggy

Published in blog.hemmings.com

(Not the actual dune buggy). Image courtesy Stomper4x4.

Honestly, the worst thing about Matt McLaughlin’s comment on the recent Meyers Manx SR2 Hemmings Find of the Day, in which he details his first hands-on experience with a dune buggy as a 13-year-old, is that he doesn’t have pictures of the dune buggy in question. The story, in case you missed it:

One of my favorite childhood memories involves a dune buggy. My dad decided to take my mom and four sisters to Disney World during our mid-winter break. At 13 I was less than thrilled by the prospect of going to a kiddie theme park. (Though to be honest it was a great vacation.) To appease me (OK, shut me up) dad agreed to take me to the 1973 Daytona 500 while we were in Florida. Thing was dad had no idea what a big deal the Daytona 500 was. It seemed there wasn’t a rental car available in the state of Florida that weekend. Fearing my trip to the 500 would be canceled I went through the yellow pages (hard to explain what yellow pages were to kids these days) and found an outfit that rented dune buggies. The agency thought they were out of rental units but their mechanics finished repairing one and it was available. They’d even deliver it to the Magic Kingdom. Early that Sunday morning our chariot arrived and it was beyond magnificent, resplendent in hot pink metal-flake body work, a bundle of snakes exhaust and Popsicle purple wheels. I thought it was about the most beautiful car I’d ever seen. Dad was somewhat less impressed. Dad was old school, dressed in his typical button down white shirt with a skinny tie though he did shed his sport’s coat in deference to the heat. The entire rainy ride to Daytona I had to press my windbreaker sleeve into service wiping the inside of the windshield (dune buggies didn’t have defrosters) and I began a campaign to have dad buy a dune buggy as his daily driver once we got home. Like that was ever going to happen. Anyway we made it to the race, the weather cleared and I got to see my hero Richard Petty win the 500 when Buddy Baker blew an engine late in the race. It was to that point in my brief time on earth the best day of my life and probably remains in the top 10 all these years later. And I would have missed it if not for a bright pink dune buggy and a very patient father.

We did ask if he had photos. His response:

Actually my mom went to take a picture of dad and I by the dune buggy. He told her “Anne, if you take that picture we might be divorced by the time this vacation is over.” I think he was kidding, but no, no such photo exists. (Did I mention that the little critter also had a floral top?)

Thanks for sharing, Matt!