Amphibious cars are vehicles capable of transportation on land and in the water. The production of these innovative vehicles dates back to World War II although the majority of them were released in the 1960s and the concept became increasingly popular around the world. Some of the most well-known companies added amphibious cars to their fleets at this time, but they are not often seen on the lot. They vary in size, design, and weight, but have come a long way over the years.
10. Audi Hydron
When David Cardoso came up with the Hydron for Audi in 2010, he envisioned “the Audi Hydron (as) a 3-seat, electric amphibious vehicle with the looks of a road car that can be used as a “boat” when necessary.” Rather than simply re-designing an existing road car, he designed a model with unique abilities for both land and water use. Thus, water resistance is reduced with the narrow cockpit and propulsion is acquired by hollow axel wheels with an electric engine.
Known as the ‘world’s first diving car,’ the sQuba was launched in 2008 at the Geneva Auto Show by Rinspeed and can go underwater as deep as thirty-three feet. The sQuba is not designed to drive along the bottom of a body of water; it “flies” through the water, much like a submarine. Passengers can expect to get wet as the convertible top remains open while submerged and oxygen is carried in the vehicle through scuba-style driving regulators. The car also features carbon nanotube technology for safety to keep passengers secure in the seats, and a specialized system provides onboard air supplies.
8. 2002 WaterCar Camaro
The WaterCar has a sports car-esque design that rivals any land-based race car; this is believable since its independent suspension and brakes are the same as a C4 Corvette. The lightweight convertible is one hundred percent fiberglass and draws its power from a 2.5-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer engine. It produces 300 horsepower in the water and on land is driven by a Berkeley 12JE Jet Drive. It goes from land to water with the flip of a switch.
This amphibian vehicle was launched in 2003 and tops speeds of 100 miles per hour on land and twenty-six knots on water. British company Gibbs Technologies developed the technology used to accomplish these speeds and called it, High-Speed Amphibian (HAS). Instead of taking a boat and adding wheels or inventing a floating car, Gibbs Sports Amphibians built this one from the ground up to maximize performance in both fields. Drivers appreciate its smooth, sports car-like handling on the road.
As the name suggests, this amphibious vehicle is certainly one to take in the water. Its low, aerodynamic design makes it dream for drivers seeking speed. With speeds reaching 125 miles per hour on land, the Splash is attractive for its hydroplaning capabilities. Equipped with a 750 cc engine fueled by natural gas, drivers can speed off of a boat launch, press a button, and skip along the water at continuous break-neck speeds.
5. Ford General Purpose Amphibian
This water vehicle goes back in time. Built by the legendary car company Ford in 1942 and 1943, it was used as a service vehicle for World War II. Similar to the Ford GPW Jeep, the ‘Seep’ ended up too heavy and slow on land and its features were not successful in open water. Instead, Ford used the design from a six-wheel-drive DUKW amphibious truck, although its use was short-lived and left the model at car shows and in military museums to be observed by car aficionados.
4. Sea Lion
The Sea Lion prototype was popularized in 2012 when it was introduced as the world’s fastest amphibious ‘land speed’ vehicle. Competition ramped up when the manufacturer built the car as an Amphibious World Speed Record Competition Vehicle, along with twenty-five other contenders. The TIG welded 5052 Aluminum construction that was designed by CAD software and calculations by M. Witt. While on the water, the Sea Lion has removable side pods are available for floatation and cargo, and its fenders are also removable.
3. Army Duck
The DUKW, known as Duck, is within the heftiest of all water and land-based vehicles. The large military truck is a six-wheel-drive and is based on the design of the two-and-a-half-ton GMC CCKW army trucks utilized during World War II. The Duck’s primary use was for transporting cargo, supplies, and troops, particularly upon water landing. Its team of designers includes Rod Stephens, Jr. of Sparkman & Stephens, Dennis Puleston, and Frank W. Speir.
The Python claims to be the “world’s fastest, highest performing amphibious car ever designed and built.” This water and land-based hot rod is “built to your wildest dreams” and appears to be an experience to drive from road to water. The engine and rear of the car have that classic Corvette look and come with a similarly hefty price tag. The company later challenged others to create a faster vehicle and offered the successful builder $10,000 to do so.
The Amphicar debuted in 1961 with Model 770 at the New York Auto Show. Although manufactured in Germany, it was marketed primarily in the United States throughout the 1960s. Hanns Trippel designed the car as a steel, two-door Cabriolet, complete with similar features to a boat. As a car, it sat high above ground level with the low-set wheels. The Amphicar was powered by an 1147 cc engine producing forty-three horsepower. It had a four-speed manual transmission and under water was propelled by twin propellers.