The first mass-produced car intended for the road and water was the Amphicar. It was designed by German Hanns Trippel and manufactured by the Quandt Group in Germany exclusively for sale in the United States. Production began in 1961 and continued to 1965. Eventually some cars were sold in the United Kingdom and some were used by the Berlin police department.The Amphicar uses a special two-part land-and-water transmission built by Hermes, makers of the Porsche transmission, that allows the wheels and propellers to be operated either independently or simultaneously. The 'land' transmission is a 4-speed manual with reverse, while the 'water' transmission is one speed forward and one reverse. On land or water, it was steered by the front wheels - which works better on land than water. Powered by a 1147cc Triumph 4-cylinder engine producing 38 horsepower, it has an 84-inch wheelbase and weighs 2315 lbs. The claimed speeds are 7 mph on the water and 70 mph on land, thus the Model 7/70 designation. The Amphicar cost between $2,800 and $3,300 and 3,878 were built.This Amphicar is among 700 that still can swim at this time. While some have complained that the Amphicar was not a particularly good car or boat, two crossed the English Channel in 1968 enduring 20 foot waves and gale force winds.
Sold for $60,500 at 2007 Vintage Motor Car Auction at Meadow Brook Hall. The Amphicar was designed by Hans Trippel and built in Germany as a recreational vehicle that could conquer both land and water. There were several drawbacks to the design but it was a fun vehicle that never ceases to attract a crowd. The car is best suited for calm waters where its twin propellers can propel the car at comfortable cruising speeds. The hydrodynamic resistance of the four wheels did not help the propellers do their job; in fact, they did the opposite and required the propellers to work even harder.At most, there were 800 examples of the Amphicar produced with the majority being powered by a 1147cc Triumph Herald engine. This example shown is a well restored and maintained vehicle. It has traveled less than 500 miles since new. The car was offered for sale with an accompanying light pole, four life jackets, owner's manual, and is registered and fully license watercraft for the rest of the 2007 season.
This 1964 Amphicar Convertible was offered for sale at the 2007 RM Auctions held in Meadow Brook where it was estimated to sell between $50,000 - $60,000. The car was offered without a reserve. It is powered by a 70 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine that is capable of producing nearly 45 horsepower. There is a four-speed manual gearbox and disc brakes in the front. Drum brakes can be found in the rear.
The estimated value proved to be very accurate, as the car was sold for a high bid of $60,500. Happy motoring, wherever that might be. By Daniel Vaughan | May 2009
Sold for $60,500 at 2007 Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction. This red with white wheels 1964 Amphicar reads just 7,182 miles since new. It has been treated to a cosmetic restoration and a mechanical servicing in 2005. It has its original California boating stickers and is reported to be in excellent condition. It was brought to the 2007 Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by RM Auctions, where it was estimated to fetch between $50,000 - $70,000. Just as in Meadow Brook a few weeks earlier, the lot was sold for $60,500 including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007
This Fjord Green Amphicar is one of only 3878 built and 1 of only 350 known to survive in the world. It runs, drives, and swims.
Sold for $44,000 at 2010 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Amelia Island. The Amphicar is powered by a 1147cc Triumph Herald engine, located amidship and driven through a German Hermes four-speed manual transmission. On land this was directed to the independently-sprung rear wheels and in the water to twin propellers. In both land and water, the front wheels were responsible for the steering. The doors had unique and special seals to aid in keeping the inside (hull) watertight. The front compartment housed the fuel tank, tools and spare tire.This example was given a cosmetic restoration around the early 2000s. It is painted in blue with a white and tan vinyl interior. The car is equipped with a modern alternator and comes with two life jackets and a bag of nautical lines.In 2010, this Amphicar 770 Convertible was offered for sale at RM Auctions 'Automobiles of Amelia Island' sale in Amelia Island, Florida. The car was estimated to sell for $40,000-$60,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car has been sold for the sum of $44,000, inclusive of buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2010
Sold for $49,500 at 2008 Florida Auction - Russo & Steele. This Amphicar is painted Fjord Green with a white convertible top and an Apricot interior. Currently it has about 6,000 original miles from new and the current owner is currently the fourth caretaker. It is powered by its original engine with a rebuilt transmission. Under the hood is the original spare tire, convertible boot and original tool kit. The Amphicar had a Lucas 12 volt positive ground system which powered the horn, lighting and switches made by other manufacturers such as Hella and Bosch. The Amphicar was capable of achieving 7 mph on the water and 70 mph on the land (hence, it was called the Model 770). The Amphicar moved in the water by its twin nylon propellers. A special two-part land-and-water transmission built by Hermes (makers of the Porsche transmission) allows the wheels and propellers to be operated either independently or simultaneously. The 4-speed (plus reverse) 'land transmission' was similar to those found in the Volkswagen Beetle. The 2-speed 'water transmission' featured a single forward and reverse gears. In the water, the front wheels acted as rudders. The Amphicar was built in Germany from 1961 to 1968. Total production was 3,878 vehicles. It is the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass-produced, with 3,046 imported into the United States between 1961 and 1967.
When new, the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year (the cars actually sold for less than those of early years). For 1968, no Amphicars were directly imported into the United States due to U.S. Government's EPA and DOT regulations that went into effect beginning with 1968 model year vehicles. Since the US market represented about 90% of Amphicar sales, this caused a major financial disaster for the Amphicar Corporation, causing the factory in Berlin, Germany to close for good in 1968.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2015
The Amphicar is both a land and water traveling vehicle. It was produced from 1962 through 1967 during which around 4500 examples were produced with most going to the United States. The vehicles were produced in Germany and borrowed many components from European automobile manufacturers. The engine, located in the rear, is courtesy of the Triumph Hearld. The 1147 cc power-plant produces nearly 45 horsepower to the rear wheels and can propel the vehicle to a top speed of 70 mph on land and 6-8 knots in the water. The transmission and some of the fuel system components came from Porsche while the suspension and braking system came from Mercedes. The chassis is made of steel, just as most regular vehicles. However, the steel is much thicker and great care was given to the assembly and to the joins to keep them leak proof. Around the doors, rubber strips were fitted to create a water-tight seal, much like opening and closing of a refrigerator. The tires are very narrow and the vehicle has been raised, offering excellent ground clearance. Propellers are located in the rear, underneath the vehicle which drive the vehicle while in the water. Steering, both on the road and in water, is controlled by the front wheels. The designing of the vehicle took an estimated five-million dollars. Even though it was only produced for five years, it did accomplish something that has not yet been duplicated: production of a commercial, non-military, amphibian car. Other non-military designs have been created for travel on land and water, but none have been able to mass-produce the vehicle in quantities that the Amphicar were able to achieve. The Amphicar has travel many historic adventures such as England to France and Africa to Spain, although most of the time they have been used for recreational purposes on lakes. Two licenses are often required, one for land and one for water. Amphicar's have been featured in many TV shows and movies from the early 1960's through the later 1990's.
The demise of the Amphicar was its high sticker price and poor marketing.
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