Amphibious cars might seem like state-of-the-art inventions that have developed very recently. Although, shockingly, these cars came into existence sometime before the Second World War in the 1900s. The two most noteworthy amphibious cars were devised during the Second World War – viz. the German Schwimmwagen designed by Porsche (1942) and the Ford GPA (also called Seep).
We’ve come a long way since then, and so have these cars. We bring to you 10 of the best amphibious cars that the world has seen –
10) Rinspeed Splash
Rinspeed is a Swiss car builder and modification designer. A number of models of Porsches and Subarus have been restored, modified or tuned by this modification specialist.The Rinspeed Splash is an amphibious car that comes with a hydrofoil design with a speed of 45 knots on water, which becomes 200 kms an hour, on land. It has been affixed with a 750 cc dual cylinder turbo-charged engine that burns natural gas and provides 140 hp i.e. 100kW at 7000 rotations per minute (rpm). Astoundingly, it weighs only 825 kgs and can speed up from 0 to 100 kmph in as less as 5.9 seconds (wow!). It has been a part of the 2004 Geneva Motor Show and has also been featured in the famous TV show Top Gear. It has set a record in the year 2006, for the fastest hydrofoil car having crossed the English Channel in only 3 hours and 14 minutes.
9) Gibs Aquada
This amphibian car has a powerful Rover K Series 24 Valve V6 engine that delivers a maximum of 175 hp. At a weight of 1466 kgs, this car gives an impressive performance of 160 kmph on land and 50 kmph on water. The Aquada was manufactured and designed in Auckland, New Zealand. This Gibbs model has been succeeded by the Gibbs Humdinga and the Gibbs Quadski. Instead of going with the popular adding wheels to a boat design, or manufacturing a car that floats, the Aquada was fabricated from the ground up to perform impressively on both land and water. It has over 60 patents to protect its technical innovations.
The Model 770 of the Amphicar (portmanteau of “amphibious” and “car”) was launched at the New York Auto Show in 1961. This car has been manufactured in West Germany and has been marketed in the USA from 1961 until 1967, as the production was halted in 1965. The makers of the Amphicar were the Quandt Group at Lubek and at Berlin-Borsigwalde, and the design was conceived by Hanns Trippel. The Amphicar was preceeded by the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen, and it offered an average permormance as opposed to the other offerings in this segment. Its features included navigation lights and flags as made compulsory by the Coast Guard, and also included a requirement of greasing at 13 points, often calling for removal of the rear seat, which was seen as a hassle by the owners and mechanics.
7) Gibbs Quadski
The Gibbs Quadski was launched in the October of 2012 as an amphibious car, resembling the looks of an ATV. It is a 4-stroke automobile that conveniently modifies itself into a personal watercraft. It features a maximum speed of 72 kmph on both land and water, which is decent when it comes to ATVs. It also boasts of a proprietary marine jet propulsion system and wheel retraction feature. It can make the transition from land to water in as less as 5 seconds. It has been created using the Gibbs’ High Speed Amphibian Technology, and has over 300 patents pending across the world. It was available for sale from January 2013 in Florida and is now available in specific areas in the USA having a price tag of about USD 40000.
6) SeaRoader Lamborghini Countach
The SeaRoader Lamborghini Countach has been the world’s first amphibious Lamborghini. This car was a mid-engined Lamborghini Countach that was modified by SeaRoader aqua-engineer Mike Ryan to be amphibious. “If it’s got wheels, I’ll make it float!” Ryan promised, and also delivered extraordinarily. He has also converted motorcycles, jeeps, a London taxicab and also, an ice-cream van into amphibious vehicles. Converting a luxury sports car as the likes of the Lamborghini Countach into a water-driven vehicle was a Herculean task. According to Ryan, the cost of just the glass that went into making the car was as high as $3,007. A hydrofoil has been designed at the front of the car which lifts the nose of the Countach on the water, whereas hydraulic activators compress its Formula 1-style suspension system.
5) Gibbs Humdinga
Another genius invention by Gibbs, The Gibbs Humdinga is a high-speed amphibious vehicle, which was designed by Gibbs Technologies. Specifically created to address remote and hostile terrain, this vehicle was publicly announced by the automaker in February 2012. The same High Speed Amphibian (HSA) technology as the Gibbs Aquada has been used for this model. Just at the push of a button by the driver, The Humdinga transforms itself from land to water mode within 10 seconds. The wheels pull in and the power train transforms from driving the wheels to driving the jet propulsion system. With a weight of 2,750 kg, the vehicle has a length of 6,685 mm, height of 2,380 mm and a width of 2,092 mm.
4) Hydra Spyder
The open top Hydra Spyder is a state-of-the-art amphibious sportscar which began production in 2006. Produced and marketed by Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International, LLC., the vehicle is claimed to be unsinkable as all cavities in its “hull” are packed with flotation foam. It has the capacity to seat four people and is equipped with a 500 hp engine in the standard model, which makes it strong enough to pull water skiers. This car seamlessly makes the transition from land mode to aqua mode by the toggle of a button on the dashboard. The wheels then retract into the body of the car, simultaneously swapping the engine for the water mode.
3) Sea Lion
Mark Witt, a car enthusiast completed his six-year project to turn his dream sports car into a 60mph amphibious vehicle. It is an extraordinary car that can achieve speeds of 125 miles per hour on roads and 60 miles per hour on water, surpassing that of many boats and yachts. Protected with a brushed aluminium and stainless steel finish, the car was built over the top of a 174hp Mazda rotary engine, designing an automobile that could function as a beautiful sports car on land doubling as a sturdy floating jet car on water. The car is one of 25 vehicles that are currently contesting for the title of fastest amphibious car.
2) WaterCar Panther
The American Company WaterCar, specializes in the manufacture and designing of luxury amphibious vehicles. It is based in Southern California and was was founded by Dave March in 1999. He claims that his major inspiration for developing an amphibious car was the Amphicar of the 1960s. He also claims that he initially, had no plans to market an amphibious car — just merely to construct one. The Panther, which was the company’s first commercial vehicle was released in 2013. It boasts of a maximum speed of 80 miles per hour (130 kmph) on land and 45 miles per hour (72 kmph) on water. WaterCar holds 27 amphibious car related patents and also has to its credit, the Guinness World Record for the fastest amphibious vehicle.
1) Dobbertin HydroCar
Designed and constructed by Rick Dobbertin, The Dobbertin HydroCar changes its shape at the flip of a switch, transforming itself from a car that speeds on land to an amphibious beauty that floats and drives on water in a matter of seconds. As the HydroCar hasn’t been fully tested of its functionalities yet, Dobbertin recommends the vehicle as more of a collector car rather than that for a daily driver. The HydroCar’s amphibious capabilities are owing to its two articulating sponsons (or pontoons) that run throughout the length of the vehicle. On land, the sponsons are retracted to form the vehicle’s fenders, but when entering water, a press of a button lowers them almost eight inches to transform the vehicle into an extraordinary watercraft.
Breathtaking automobile wonders, right? No harm in dreaming of owning one of these, someday!