Automotive History: Boat Cars
Automotive History: Boat Cars
In the 1960s there was a lot of talk about boat cars, otherwise known as Amphicar’s. These vehicles are no longer being produced but are an important part of automotive history. Luckily, these unique vehicles have left a legacy, and today there are quite a few Amphibious cars that are slowly making their way to a very exclusive market.
Many American’s love boating and being on the water almost as much as they love their own vehicles. It made total sense that the idea of a vehicle that could drive on both land and water would become vastly popular.
The Beginning of the Amphicar
The concept of the Amphicar began during World War 2 when Germany thought it would be a great idea to have a vehicle that could operate on both land and water to help increase mobility. Roughly 200 models of the Amphicar were created for the purpose of war.
After World War 2, the design of the Amphicar worked with Quandt Group, and they began manufacturing a mass-produced version of the Amphicar in 1961 to be sold to the general public. The vehicle was known as the Amphicar 770, which had a 15.5-foot long body and weighed roughly 1,700 pounds.
The vehicle was equipped with double seals on the doors, which were designed to prevent the car boat hybrid vehicle from taking on water. During this time, the vehicle had a price tag of $2,800 dollars which is equivalent to about $25,000 today.
The original Amphicar was very successful in the American Market and was featured in a Pepsi advertisement, along with one Amphicar being owned by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
So what happened?
Even though the Amphicar was a massive success initially, the sales dropped quickly once all the niche buyers who wanted the vehicle had it. The general public was not convinced that it was a viable vehicle option.
If you still want to ride in an original Amphicar, you can go to the Boathouse in Florida which charges guests for rides in an original Amphicar. However, these vehicles were re-engineered and fixed to comply with safety regulations and reliability.
The Famous Car and Boat
The Amphicar was featured in 8 films throughout history, and also the concept of the Amphicar was featured in an episode of the Simpsons. These appearances made the Amphicar vastly popular in pop culture as it became an icon in the automotive industry.
Interestingly enough, in 1965 there were 2 Amphicars that managed to navigate across the Yukon River, along with another two cars crossing the English channel.
Today’s Amphibious Cars
Believe it or not, the Amphicar is not the only boat car to ever be produced. Now, there are several different types of car and boat hybrids that have hit the market but nothing has ever matched the popularity or mass-production of the Amphicar.
The closest that we have to a modern production Amphicar is the WaterCar Panther. The vehicle is similar in design to a Jeep Wrangler but has a body made of fiberglass hull and closed-cell styrofoam.
In the 1980s, there was a small production of something called “The Boaterhome” which is half-boat and half-RV. Only an incredibly small number of these vehicles were produced.
Lastly, Gibbs Technologies Limited has been working on and producing high-speed amphibious vehicles and car-boats. They have one vehicle called the Aquada that is a small open-top car that can reach 30 MPH on water, and roughly 100 MPH on land.
As crazy as it may seem, the Amphicar and other boat cars are a very important part of the automobile industry! If you think about it, the idea that the Amphicar existed on such a massive production scale in the 1960s is really cool!
It gives us hope that maybe someday, the world will not only have land and sea vehicles but also flying cars! Until then, it’s better that we stick to our land and sea vehicles separately, and in the event that your land vehicle breaks down, make sure you have an extended auto warranty to save big on future auto repairs.
Written by: Stephen Lubas