It’s a car………… no it’s a boat!
The Amphicar Model 770 is an amphibious automobile, launched at the 1961 New York Auto Show, manufactured in West Germany and marketed in the United States from 1961-1967, with production having ended in 1965.
Designed by Hanns Trippel, the amphibious vehicle was manufactured by the Quandt Group at Lübeck and at Berlin-Borsigwalde, with a total of 3,878 manufactured in a single generation.
A descendant of the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen, the Amphicar offered only modest performance compared to most contemporary boats or cars, featured navigation lights and flag as mandated by Coast Guard — and after operation in water, required greasing at 13 points, one of which required removal of the rear seat.
The Amphicar name is a portmanteau of “amphibious” and “car”.
The model name 770 was chosen as an Amphicar could hit 7 mph on the water and 70 mph on dry land.
In the water, a simple lever switches the Amphicar from rear-wheel drive to twin rear propellers, with the front wheels doing the steering in the water as well as on land.
Model 770s were available in only four colors from the factory: Beach White, Lagoon Blue, Fjord Green and Classic Regatta Red.
Front undersurface is slightly pointed and sharply cut away below. The wheels are set low, so that the vehicle stands well above ground level when on dry land. Front and rear bumpers are placed low on the body panels (but fairly high in relation to dry ground). The one-piece windshield is curved. The foldable top causes the body style to be classified as cabriolet. Its water propulsion is provided by twin propellers mounted under the rear bumper. The Amphicar is made of mild steel.
The Amphicar’s engine was mounted at the rear of the craft, driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission. For use in the water, the same engine drove a pair of reversible propellers at the rear, with a second gear lever engaging forward or reverse drive. Once in the water, the main gear lever would normally be left in neutral. By engaging first gear as well as drive to the propellers when approaching a boat ramp, the Amphicar could drive itself out of the water.
The powerplant was the 1147 cc (69 in³) engine from the British Triumph Herald 1200. Many engines were tried in prototypes but the Triumph engine was “state of the art” in 1961 and had the necessary combination of performance, weight, cool running and reliability. Updated versions of this engine remained in production in the Triumph Spitfire until 1980. One owner was quoted “It’s not a good car and it’s not a good boat, but it does just fine” largely because of modest performance in and out of water. Another added, “We like to think of it as the fastest car on the water and fastest boat on the road.”
In popular culture..
In 1965, two Amphicars successfully navigated the Yukon River in Alaska.
Two Amphicars crossed the English Channel in 1968 enduring 20-foot (6.1 m) waves and gale-force winds.
Howard Singer of San Diego, California sailed an Amphicar from the mainland to Catalina Island in the late 1970s.
Amphicar appears in the films Rotten to the Core (1965), The Sandwich Man (1966), The President’s Analyst (1967), Inspector Clouseau (1968), Femina Ridens (1969), Savannah Smiles (1982), Pontiac Moon (1994), and in the episode 5 of season 4 of The Avengers (Castle De’ath, 1965).
President Lyndon B. Johnson was known as an owner of an Amphicar. Johnson, a known practical joker, was said to enjoy frightening visitors at his Johnson City, Texas ranch by driving them downhill in his Amphicar, directly into his property’s lake, all the while shouting that he had malfunctioning brakes.
At Disney Springs in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, guests can take a ride in amphicars, driven by a pilot.
Production of the Amphicar started in 1961. From 1963 to 1965 cars were assembled from parts inventory built up in anticipation of sales of 20,000 per year. Production ended in 1965. Cars were titled in the year they actually sold rather than when they were produced, e.g. an Amphicar assembled in 1963 could be titled a 1968 if that was when it was first sold. Most Amphicars were sold in the United States. Cars were sold in the United Kingdom from 1964. Total production was 3,878 vehicles before the company folded. 99 right-hand drives were converted from left-hand drives. Some were used in the Berlin police department and others were fitted for rescue operations.
ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
This Amphicar benefit from a very recent restoration.
This 770 Amphicar is presented in Fjord Green and has a very nice yellow with white interior.
The restoration of the Amphicar has been done very thoroughly and after the restoration the car drove approximately 200 kilometers.
We have used the Amphicar ourselves a couple of times in the canals of Amsterdam and can confirm that it is very impressive to drive in the water.
Using the Amphicar as a boat is just fantastic. In the beginning it’s a little scary but after some minutes you get used to the fact that the car became a serious boat which can give a lot of fun.
The response from people on the road or in other boats is absolutely amazing. As an example we tell often that we receive more attention with the Amphicar as with a 5 million euro Ferrari.
Due to the fact that this Amphicar is restored in a very attractive and original color scheme the car seems to get even more attention.
The body of the Amphicar is in a super condition. One could hardly find any signs of use as the car only drove approximately 200 miles since the restoration.
During the restoration the soft top has been replaced for a new example.
All chrome parts have been re-chromed.
The exterior of the Amphicar is in a very impressive and beautiful condition.
The car features a white manual soft top in brand new condition and a yellow / brown leather interior.
Every part of the interior has been restored so the floor mats as well as the seats, doorpanels, handles, meters etc. are in a fresh and newly restored condition.
All meters are working properly and even the radio is playing.
This Amphicar is fully restored (mechanicals, interior, paint, rubber,glass, chrome).
We used the car for some weeks on both the road and in the water.
We cannot say that the Amphicar itself is the best driving classic car and we can also not write that we never been in a more relaxing boat but the combination of a car and a boat is just fabulous and gives an enormous smile on everybody’s face.
The Amphicar runs very well, shifts easy and brakes properly. The car gives a very strong feeling both on the road and in the water.
If you are in for a very unique experience, then the Amphicar can give a good opportunity.