BEACH BUGGY AUSTRALIA AND HOW THE MAX FX CAME TO BE
Beach Buggy Australia is the ‘brain child’ of one John William Rock Barrett, an ex-pat ‘pom’ and builder extraordinaire, Graeme Mills, a jet aircraft engineer and Nigel Townshend, a pub manager-cum-Volkswagen mechanic. In the year 2000, they all threw themselves together to bring the fun and excitement of beach buggying to the greater Oz.
John, a fully qualified builder and renovator (and spinner of wild yarns), approached Graeme and Nigel in January 2000 at their VW mechanic shop, GT Motors, with his idea of renting and building buggies.
It was a year later that Beach Buggy Rentals was formed and opened up ‘shop’ in the heart of Surfers Paradise, right next to the iconic fly coaster. With their fleet of two bright orange Meyer’s Manx 2-seaters, they serviced an ever growing clientele, made up of tourists, day trippers, Gold Coasters and corporate businesses. And all from a humble white, plastic garden table and beach umbrella!
The bright orange buggies (orange being the chosen BBR corporate colour for standoutability) were definitely beginning to be noticed, especially now that the fleet had grown to four 2-seaters and one 4-seater. Various companies and advertising agencies were now hiring the beach buggies for promotional photo shoots, including Versace and Voodoo Dolls.
The Gold Coat Indy was an obvious place for buggy promotion—the public and most of the V8 supercar drivers loving them! In fact, the bonnet of one of the rental fleet was signed by some of the leading V8 supercar drivers, including Dick Johnson and his son Steve.
It was time to progress from the brolly and table and look a little more sophisticated with a wooden hut!
John, Graeme and Nigel soon realised that they had a winning idea. However, it also became obvious that the 4-seater was proving more popular than the 2-seater, as it suited families. The only problem was that a 4-seater was hard to come by and they were not the greatest buggies to drive. ‘We’ll make our own then—bigger, better, stronger and nicer!’ said John. ‘Yeah, right mate!’ said Graeme and Nigel in unison.
Nine months later, after many long days and late nights doing research and development, they began to sink all the money earned from the rental fleet into the design and production of their new beach buggy. And so the Max fx Beach Buggy was born. ADR compliant and road registered, it was finally ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
Out on the road and into the rental fleet it went and proved to be very popular, with orders coming in for this new 4-seater beach buggy version. So not only was it offered in a turn-key option, kit form for the enthusiasts was also available.
Eventually the rental fleet was sold to concentrate solely on manufacturing the Max fx. After a couple of years a decision had to be made—whether to keep plodding along as they were or step up production which would require a hefty input of cash. But when an enthusiastic buyer came along, John, Graeme and Nigel decided to take the offer and let Beach Buggy Australia move on.
The new buyer took the company up to the Sunshine Coast where it stayed for nearly 3 years and then it was up for grabs again, with Kurt and Gunther Bogholz of Volksmod making the purchase to bring it back down to the Gold Coast again.