- Amphicar was
manufactured in Berlin Germany from 1962 to 1967. Approx 4500 were produced,
most went to USA (at least 3700), There are maybe 500 still in regular use,
with are 7 in the UK and about 80 in the rest of Europe.
- Even now,
Amphicar is the only non-military Amphibious vehicle ever put into
production on a commercial basis (ie more than 50 produced). The many rules
and regulations for road and water going vehicles make it very unlikely that
another car based amphibian will ever be produced.
- Amphicar is
capable of over 70mph on road, 8 knots on water. It is comfortable enough to
drive 500 miles a day, road behaviour is similar to a good 1960s European
saloon car or a 1980s American car.
- Amphicar cost
$5m to design in the late 1950's. It is totally watertight. The engine is in
the rear, it is the same as used in the Triumph Herald, 1147cc, 43HP,
transmission drives rear wheels through unique land/water gearbox.
- Amphicar has
connections with other manufacturers, many Amphicar employees came from
Borgward and there are many parts in common between the cars. Much of the
braking system and suspension is Mercedes. The transmission internals are
Porsche 356 as are some parts of the fuel system. In 1967 the Amphicar
corporation was owned by the Quandt group, who also owned and still own a
controlling share of, BMW.
failed because it was too expensive when new, however it is capable of some
serious sea crossings, ie Africa to Spain, San Diego to Catalina Island and
England to France (3 times, once in a force 6 gale).
- Amphicar is
made of steel so was prone to rust, however modern paint and waxes can stop
rust being a problem. It does need more maintenance than other cars but
maintenance schedules are no worse than some 4x4 vehicles.
- Amphicar has
the highest rear fins of any production car, about 1 inch higher than a '59
- Amphicar is
great in snow, better than many 4x4s. With 10 inches of ground clearance, a
totally flat bottom and narrow rear wheels Amphicar has tremendous traction
- The car that
looks most like the Amphicar from the rear is the Jaguar XK220, Below bumper
level the shape is identical, a large bulge around the engine and everything
very flat for ground effect/hydrodynamics. The Jaguar does not have the
advantage of propellers which makes it much slower in the water !
recently featured in US movie "Pontiac Moon".
- Amphicar spare
parts still available in the US, contact Hugh Gordon, 14330 Iseli Road,
Santa Fe Springs, California 90670. telephone 714 523 3512 fax 562 404 1904
- Many people
have tried to build a better Amphibian than the Amphicar, there are as many
as 2 or 3 a year, to date nobody has managed to improve on the original
- The very first
vehicles were Amphibians (see Fred Flintstone movie, hollowed out log with
- The last two
companies to attempt production of Amphibious vehicles were Hobbycar of
France and AmphiRanger of Germany. The production always was small scale /
build to order but it's sad that the factories finally closed in 1996
- A UK Kit Car
manufacturer (Tim Dutton) has been developing an Amphibious Kit Car called
the Dutton Mariner. It has a fibreglass body, water jet propulsion and Ford
Fiesta mechanicals, more information on the other
amphibious vehicle page.
vehicle use on UK rivers could become technically impossible if a ridiculous
bunch of rules developed by British Waterways become law. The Boat Safety
Scheme applies current rules retrospectively and has been universally
condemned, more info from the National
Association of Boat Owners. Many owners of classic cars, and classic
boats have problems with "bad" laws that are applied
retrospectively and without due consideration. It's a problem that is likely
to get worse.
- Amphicar at
the movies ! Check out the following films: "The Sandwich Man" and
"Rotten to the core" (1960s English). "The Presidents
Analyst" (1967) and Pontiac Moon (1992). TV includes The Avengers
episode "Castle Derth"(1967). Pop Videos include Madonna
LINK TO MADONNA VIDEO ON
YOUTUBE and Jameriqui "Summertime"(1996) And
don't forget the 1960's Come Alive Pepsi Cola commercial that had an
Amphicar driving into the water at over 50mph.
The car in the Madonna video is an early car
(probably 1962) in Lagoon Blue. It has a bilge blower so is US rather than
Canadian or European spec. In the first frame on the video the image is
reversed and the car appears to be RHD. The Steering Wheel is black, all
amphicar steering wheels were white, this looks like a colour change in the
video edit rather than a different steering wheel fitted. The car is fitted
with unique non-standard door mirrors that were only available from one
supplier for a few years in the early 1980s. That same supplier told me
Madonna owned the Amphicar, fell in love with it and kept it after filming but
that's never been confirmed.
- Amphicars in
British Museums, but ring first to check, now the only place is the Lakeland
Motor Museum in South Cumbria, the Amphicars that were at Totnes and
Beaulieu have been sold.
Clubs, there is a small club in Germany, but you really need to speak
German. In the UK the Amphicar is represented by the Triumph Sports Six Club
TSSC and in the rest
of the World, particularly the USA, by the International
Frequently Asked Questions
Did you make
it yourself ?
were produced by the Amphicar Corporation in Germany between 1962 and 1967.
So is it a
Triumph / Renault / Austin ?
None of these,
the Amphicar Corporation was a separate company that was initially funded by the
German Government, there are connections with some other German manufacturers
such as Borgward, Mercedes and BMW and the engine used came from Triumph in the
UK. The plans were that Amphicar would be a new manufacturer and would produce
about 20,000 cars a year for the North American market.
No, good old mild
steel, although much thicker than on a car and much better assembled with
continuous welds and lead filling around the joins to make it watertight.
How do the
doors seal ?
Two rubber strips
that work like the seal on a refrigerator.
How high does
the water come ?
About where the
black/white rubber side strip is on the side of the car, there is about 14
inches of freeboard but if the windows are wound up the freeboard more than
How does it
steer in the water ?
The front wheels.
How fast is it
6 knots in the
water, 70mph on land, although an Amphicar with a high performance engine can
reach 90mph on land.
Does it leak ?
Amphicars do but most of the good one can stay in water for many hours without
any leakage at all.
more sold ?
Who had heard of
a sports/recreational vehicle in the early 1960's ? The marketing was all wrong,
in fact Amphicar didn't employ marketing staff, only engineers.
What do all
those buttons do on the dash ?
As well as normal
automotive functions the Amphicar has marine lights and a bilge pump.
What about the
second gear lever ?
That controls the
propellers, forwards or backwards.
Does it have
to be licenced ?
Yes it has two
licences, one for land and one for water.
Who knows ! Not
enough come up for sale for there to be any real market or any accurate figures
in the price guides.
More than a car
but not much more than a 4WD that's used off road, but, you have to do it
yourself as very few professionals have the experience and knowledge to maintain
an Amphicar properly.