vintage, nostalgia and memories


October 3, 2017

The Fastest Car on the Water and the Fastest Boat on the Road: Funny Vintage Photos of Amphicars From the 1960s

The Amphicar was designed by Hanns Trippel and built in Germany from 1961 to 1968, with a total of 3,878 manufactured in a single generation. 3,046 Amphicars were imported into the United States between 1961 and 1967. All Amphicars are convertibles, and the civilian models were originally offered in only 4 colors, Beach White, Regatta Red, Lagoon Blue and Fjord Green (Aqua).

The Amphicar has a top speed of 7mph on water and 70mph on land. Hence, it was dubbed the "Model 770". The Amphicar is 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 "land transmission" is a 4-speed-plus-reverse unit similar to those found in the old Volkswagen Beetles. The "water transmission" is a 2-speed offering unique to the Amphicar featuring single forward and reverse gears. In the water, the front wheels act as rudders.
One Amphicar owner, John Hein, 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."
When new the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year. Later model years actually sold for less than those of early years. No 1968 model year Amphicars were directly imported into the USA. This was because of the U.S. Government's EPA and DOT regulations that went into effect beginning with 1968 model year vehicles. This caused a major financial disaster for the Amphicar Corporation since the USA represented about 90% of all Amphicar sales. The Amphicar factory in Berlin, Germany closed for good in 1968, and the remaining inventory of unused parts was eventually purchased by Hugh Gordon of Sante Fe Springs, California. Hugh's Gordon Imports remains the Amphicar owner's primary source for spare parts.

The Amphicar is used as a fishing boat by its owner at the start of the salmon fishing season on the River Tay, Scotland. Jan. 17, 1964. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

British Transport Minister Ernest Marples takes a ride in the Amphicar in London. April 22, 1964. (Fox Photos/getty Images)

The Amphicar is demonstrated at the International Motor Show on Long Island, 1960. (Keystone/Getty Images)

1965 (National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

July 6, 1967. (Mccabe/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1962 (Bernd Thiele/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images)

1962 (Bernd Thiele/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images)

President Lyndon Johnson drives an Amphicar at his Texas ranch. April 10, 1965. (LBJ Presidential Library)

Artist John Worsley docks his Amphicar near Tower Bridge in London. April 28, 1966. (Les Lee/express/Getty Images)

July 2, 1966. (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

1963 (Ullstein Bild/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images)

(via Mashable/Retronaut)

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