Amphicar: The First Civilian Amphibious Automobile (Part 2)

Posted by Steve White on Sep 14, 2012

The Amphicar steered with its front wheels on both land and water, and therefore, it was less maneuverable than an ordinary boat. Dan Neil from Time magazine called it a vehicle that would “revolutionize drowning”, because its floatation was wholly dependent on whether or not its bilge pump was able to keep up with leakage. In reality, the Amphicar will not leak if it is well-maintained, and it can be left on water for many days.

Although it is underpowered compared to modern vehicles, the Amphicar can be a pleasant vehicle to drive both on land and water if it is properly maintained. Since such a high percentage of Amphicars, 700 out of nearly 4,000 produced, have survived for more than 40 years, it is evident that they are high quality specialty cars. They must also have been highly valued by their owners, many of whom spent a great deal of time and effort to restore and maintain them.

One owner said that the Amphicar was neither a good car nor a good boat but it did just fine, referring to its modest performance both on land and water. Another owner said that he would like to think of the Amphicar as the fastest car on water and the fastest boat on the road.

The Amphicar had successfully completed several impressive feats over the years, including navigating the Yukon River in Alaska in 1965, crossing the English Channel in 1968, and sailing to Catalina Island from the mainland in the late 1970s.

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