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The World's Only Mass-Produced Amphibious Car

Remembering The Amphicar

The World's Only Mass-Produced Amphibious Car

From 1961 to 1968 Germany gave us something previously seen only in movies. This marvel of engineering may not have been as alluring as the aquatic Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me, but the Amphicar has earned it place in automotive history.

One owner was quoted as saying that is was “the fastest car on water and the fastest boat on the road.” Pretty accurate, considering it reached a top speed of 70 MPH on the road and 7 MPH on water. The Model 770 as it was known was powered by a British Triumph Herald engine producing 43 HP and twin nylon propellors for aquatic travel and a two-part transmission used especially for this model's unique needs. The wheels and propellors could be operated together or independently. The land use transmission was similar to the transaxle units in Volkswagen Beetles. The water use transmission was a 2 speed unit offering both forward and reverse gears. The front wheels would act as the rudders on water.

For a cost of between $2,800 and $3,300 you could own a car that could drive directly into a body of water and nearly seamlessly transition into a small boat. In the 1960's, this was the pinnacle of automotive technology. Unfortunately, import regulations in the U.S. that went into effect in 1968 killed the Amphicar, forcing the plant in Germany to close its doors forever. Unfortunately for them, over 90 percent of their sales were in the U.S. It just never caught on in other countries apparently.

Since the Amphicar we've seen several iterations of amphibious cars both in movies and in reality, but with over 3,000 units imported into the United States, the Amphicar remains the most successful endeavor in this area. 

Like what you've read? Let us know! At Service King South 1st - Austin of Austin, TX we strive to bring you entertaining and informative articles.

Written By: Todd Hendrickson

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