After its completion, the idea of “floating” cars received natural development in the civilian sector of the automotive industry. The result was the development of some amazing amphibious vehicles. Among them is our today’s hero – Amphicar 770.
Amphicar 770 feels very confident on the water. Photo: YouTube.com
This is one of the strangest and most promising projects of the last century, which continues to be popular today. This amazing model, which looks like a regular vehicle, can travel both on public roads and on water. Just the perfect car for a vacation, despite the fact that it comes from the last century. It is noteworthy that it is also the only serial representative of the “autoboats” in the world.
The history of the birth of the Amphicar
This compact, versatile amphibious convertible Amphicar 770 owes its birth to the German racing driver, engineer and designer by vocation Hans Trippel. It was he who was the author of this ambitious project. He was fascinated by the idea of implementing a civilian version of an amphibious military vehicle, whose capabilities he was very impressed with.
Externally, Amphicar 770 is no different from an ordinary small car.. Photo: YouTube.com
Trippel was so confident in the company's success and that he could conquer the automotive market with his know-how that he planned to produce 20 copies annually. But, as one famous saying goes: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” This happened in the case of the Amphicar. Trippel's bold ideas, unfortunately, were not destined to come true. At the same time, some success was still achieved, and under certain circumstances it might have been consolidated.
The first functional prototype of the new machine, after many years of design and multi-million dollar costs, appeared in 1959. Construction was entrusted to the Quandt Group, and launched at the industrial facilities of companies located in West Germany.
Two years later, in 1961, the car was presented at the Geneva Salon and attracted considerable public attention. At the first presentation of the new product in New York, a purchase was immediately made. Mass production of the custom car was carried out under the direct supervision of Harald Quandt and lasted until 1968.
The engine compartment of the Amphicar 770 is hermetically sealed. Photo: YouTube.com
Over the entire period, only 3878 Amphicars were produced. It is noteworthy that 100% German by origin, he was more popular outside his homeland. Almost 90% of the presented series was sold in the United States.
There it sold for between $2800 and $3300. In today's money, that's about $25 and $000, respectively. This is not to say that it is cheap, but, on the other hand, it is not very expensive for a car with double capabilities. But, in any case, such a cost did not contribute to the huge demand.
The propellers that propel the Amphicar 770 through the water. Photo: YouTube.com
Moreover, the performance characteristics of the floating four-seater car left much to be desired. And plus, according to US law, owners of such a vehicle were required to obtain additional permission to operate a yacht. In addition, in 1968, the rules for importing cars into North America became stricter. In general, Trippel failed to realize his bold ideas with multi-thousand production volumes.
How does Amphicar work?
The Amphicar body is made of carbon steel and was offered to the buyer in four colors: white, red, blue and green. Outwardly, it is completely similar to a car, but the bottom of it is equipped like a boat. Absolutely everything is hermetically sealed to protect against water. In addition, the lower edge of the Amphicar doors is located below the waterline, so the seals do not require additional attention.
The rear-wheel drive four-seater car had the following dimensions:
✅ length - 4,343 m
✅ width - 1,575 m
✅ height - 1,524 m
✅ wheelbase - 2,100 m
Officially called the Model 770, the car was powered by Triumph's 1147 cc Standard SC inline-four engine. cm. It is capable of producing 43 hp. and 4750 rpm of torque. The engine works in tandem with a four-speed manual transmission and is located at the rear.
The luggage compartment of the Amphicar 770 opens in an unusual way. Photo: YouTube.com
It is noteworthy that the name of the model comes from a combination of numbers indicating the vehicle’s speed parameters depending on the conditions. On water, the “Amphibian” moves at a speed of 7 knots (13 km/h), and on land, like the average small car of that time, with a maximum speed of 110 km/h.
To be able to easily change the “habitat”, the Amphicar received a double Hermes transmission. When launched, the engine drove two nylon propellers located at the lower rear of the vehicle. This did not require any additional movements from the driver other than switching the speed lever.
The role of steering was performed by the front wheels. It was possible to move on water only in two directions - forward and backward. When reaching land, the torque was transmitted simultaneously to both the propellers and the rear wheels.
Amphicars are still popular
Despite the fact that the era of Amphicar production ended quite a long time ago, this masterpiece of automotive engineering still deserves a lot of attention. Surviving examples are very popular among collectors, regardless of their condition.
A noteworthy fact is that these days you can even purchase original spare parts for this machine. This can be done through Gordon Imports from California. It bought the remaining inventory when the Amphicar Corporation went bankrupt in 1968.
This is what the dashboard and front seat of the Amphicar 770 look like. Photo: YouTube.com
As for the cost, on average, the price of a fully restored example with low mileage can be about $100. Converting this amount to rubles at the current exchange rate, we get approximately 000 million.
Perhaps this is why “amphicars” that regularly appear on the used car market do not stay there for long, even if they are presented in the most deplorable condition. Those who have lost the ability to ride and swim also find their owners.
There is even a community of Amphicar enthusiasts in the USA. Its members regularly host Amphicar swims and meet on forums to discuss current projects or maintenance issues. Among the fans of the floating convertible was the 36th American president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Ground clearance of Amphicar 770. Photo: YouTube.com
He, as they say, was very fond of playing pranks on the numerous guests of his estate by “losing control”, rushing down the slope in the Amphicar straight into the pond. There is also a story about a daredevil who drove this car across the English Channel in a force-six storm. All in all, there's hardly a dull moment with the Amphicar 770.