Amphicar: The First Civilian Amphibious Automobile (Part 1)

Posted by Steve White on Sep 12, 2012

The Amphicar is the name of an amphibious automobile that was produced by German manufacturer Quandt Group. It was the first vehicle of its kind to be mass-produced and sold to the public, and it was developed specifically for the US market. A total of 3,878 units of Amphicar were built between 1961 and 1965, and they are highly prized by many classic car collectors today.

The Amphicar was constructed of mild steel, and its body style was classified as cabriolet because of its foldable top. It had a curved one-piece windshield, slightly pointed front undersurface, and low-set wheels, which enabled it to stand well above the ground when it is on land. Both its front and rear bumpers were situated low on the body panels, and it had twin propellers under the rear bumper to provide water propulsion.

Compared to ordinary cars and boats, the Amphicar’s performance was modest. It was equipped with a 1,147 cc straight-4 Triumph engine, which could produce 43 hp at 4,750 rpm. This engine was selected over many other engines used in prototypes because it had the necessary combination of reliability, performance, cool running, and suitable weight. Later, the car was fitted with more powerful versions of the Triumph engine, namely, the 1,296 cc and the 1,493 cc, which increased output to 75 hp. The Amphicar could reach a maximum speed of 70 mph on land and 7 knots on water.

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