Why tow a boat behind your car when your car can also be your boat? That’s the question that makers of amphibious autos have been asking for almost 60 years. Here are six ventures into the deep end ...
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Well, first of all, Hans Trippel may have designed the gullwing doors on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (I really don't know if he did, or not). But, I am fairly certain that he was involved with the design of the German Army's WWII Schwimmenwagen. Related to the Amphicar, there are many who have claimed that it was neither a good automobile, nor a good boat, but I for one would say that those folks are mistaken. My dear Departed Dad bought an Amphicar new in 1967 when the company was going "under water". He had seen an advertisement in the NY Times, for brand new Amphi's, for I believe $1500 (cash only). He went down to NYC one afternoon before work, plunked down $1500, and picked out a white Amphi (with a red interior and a black top). Paid the guy at the docks some extra cash to clean off all of the cosmoline (which he said it was coated in to preserve it during it's journey across the ocean). His (our) Amphi was a right hand drive model (which I believe was intended for the Australian market, but then when the company went bankrupt - really could not meet new emissions for 1968 - was sold in New York, never making it to the land "down under"). We christened our Amphi the H.M.S. Puddlejumper. My Dad started the Amphibious Auto Club of America (somewhere I still have a membership card, stating that I am the "Vice President"... very impressive for a young teenager at the time. However I digress. Our Amphi was most likely the most traveled Amphicar in the world. My Dad drove it back and forth to work, from upper Westchester County, NY, to Yonkers, NY, for many, many years. Any readers of this column from the Westchester are may have seen him on the Taconic or the Saw Mill River Parkways. (He had actually set up a tank of colored water, connected to the bilge pump, so that when the tailgaters got too close, they would get a liberal dose of blue water splashing out at them). Those that know the area, also know that the Saw Mill River Parkway was notorious for flooding (since it was built next to the Saw Mill River). During bad flood events, portions of the road were closed, with Westchester County Police diverting traffic. But, since most of the same officers had pulled my Dad over at some point (to ask if the car was legal on the road, but really because they just wanted to check it out), they would move the barricade and wave him thru the flooded area. We replaced the Triumph Herald engine with one from a Triumph Spitfire (using the swing set frame as an engine hoist). And went on the local lake (Lake Mahopac, NY), many, many times. Possibly hundreds of times. During the "gas crisis", when there was odd-even gas regulations (based on your license plate), we would go fill up at the Mahopac Marina with the Amphi... and get a few 5-gallon cans filled for our other convertible (which was a thirsty 1967 Lincoln convertible). We also crossed the Hudson River a number of times, sneaking under the chain at West Point, and coming ashore on the east side at "Boscos Folly", in Garrison, NY. When it was all said and done, we put over 160,000 (land) miles on our H.M.S. Puddlejumper. Not bad for a car that supposedly was not a good car.
And although both my Dad, and the Amphi are both long gone, the memories will hopefully be with me forever.
It WAS a great car, and a great boat!
Thanks for the memories Pops!
Took a long ride in an Amphicar once. It strained to exceed 45mph and was unbelievably noisy. Going into the water involved a lot more than just driving in; there were plugs that had to be installed and other items I can't remember. And then you had to reverse the procedure to get back on the road.
These are such fun. And not very realistic. First of all, there seems to be something around $200k for most turnkey. For that, I can get a Range Rover and tow a very nice boat and moorage for some time and have money left over. But that's not the point, right? There seems to be some dispute as to whether any of these are actually legal to drive on the road in the US. That is a problem! Other than the Amphi which I guess gets grandfathered? Of course, you'd never catch me in one of those. As a reviewer wrote back in the 1960s, its neither a good car or a good boat. Back to the Range Rover dealer...
As a teen in high school I worked at a store in downtown Canandaigua, NY. I routinely saw an Amphicar going down main street toward the lake. When stopped at traffic lights it was a real showstopper. I did see it on the lake one time & cringed because it looked like it was right on the verge of taking on water but it kept going. Cool car/boat.
My first thought as well. Certain Schwimmwagens would be in there. Perhaps, because it was a military vehicle and back in the day you could not "buy" one? Not sure, but you can certainly buy one today.
best yet/ever !: 1) weird'n rad topic, yet still possible, from av. to tops presentation of a product; 2) multi-media; 3) 'left da site' & used other's expertise...
(DoIt'gain, DoIt'gain; Dat wuz fun!