A car that can drive on land and swim in water is such an amazing idea for many people that dare to dream. And for a short period that dream was a reality.
Amphicar was the brainchild of Hans Trippel, a German auto designer who is better known for the gullwing doors of Mercedes-Benz sports cars. Trippel experimented with amphibious cars in the 1930s and later built several hundred heavy duty military ones during World War II. A competing military design from Volkswagen called the Schwimmwagen was a little more successful than his.
After the war, Mr. Trippel returned to his dream of building a commercially viable amphibious car. But after designing a prototype of the Amphicar, he had no more involvement with its Berlin manufacturer.
It was all for the best. After making a splash (pun intended) at the 1961 New York Auto Show, the company thought it could sell tens of thousands a year to Americans. Those estimates turned out to be way too optimistic. Between 1962 and 1967 fewer than 3,800 were sold in North America plus only a few hundred more in Europe. Many were simply given away to employees.
A publicity stunt that involved a successful crossing of the English Channel got headlines. Another in the Strait of Gibraltar was less successful, since it involved the first-ever collision of a ship and an automobile. More strict U.S. safety requirements in 1968 finally sank (again, pun intended) Amphicar Corp. itself.
There have been other attempts at passenger cars that float, fly or even can submerge, but none approaching Amphicar’s brief heyday.
While people tend to be terribly fascinated with them, they tend not to buy them.
While you certainly don’t need to have a car/ boat combo, you do need a regular car. Don’t drown in responsibilities, apply for an auto loan today to get the perfect (non floating) car for you!