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Bygone Days Of The Beach Buggy

Back in the '50s, noisy, weird-looking machines roamed our shores. They were great fun for those on board, less so for anyone trying to relax at the beach.

Sea turtles were mostly watched by the beach buggy crowd from the 1950s onward. In earlier times, they were caught and eaten.

Sea turtles were mostly watched by the beach buggy crowd from the 1950s onward. In earlier times, they were caught and eaten.

For three generations of guys and their gals, a free-spirited weekend of fun in coastal Florida happened aboard a stripped-down and often souped-up beach buggy. Although these lightweight, sand-defying recreational vehicles had long ago been outlawed on beaches over concerns about dune erosion and territorial conflicts with people, “everyone who was anyone” once had one parked in their garage, says Vero Beach Vice Mayor Craig Fletcher.

As it happened, the beach buggy that Fletcher owned with his brother Grover in the 1950s was fashioned from a lightweight Model-A Ford equipped with oversized tires. “She wasn’t much to look at, but she got through the sand,” he says. It was darn near a necessity for navigating to the Sebastian Inlet because A1A was then a dry-sand road north of SR 510. Young couples would often travel by buggy to fish at the manmade inlet – no jetty yet existed – and cook their catch over a fire built on the beach. They’d routinely make a pit stop for Coca-Cola at a World War II outpost north of Jaycee Beach. “Some people would actually bring beer,” Fletcher adds slyly.

Read the entire article in the March 2013 issue