A Quick Cruise Through the History of Amphibious Cars

While amphibious vehicles have been around since the 1700’s (carriages back then) – amphibious technology didn’t merge with automotive technology until around 1900 (so – fairly early in regards to automotive technology.)

A Quick Cruise Through the History of Amphibious Cars

By: Laure Justice

Schwimmkübel Amphibious Vehicle
1944 Schwimmenwagen Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-721-0372-13A / Koll / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Early Amphibious Cars

Most of the early developments in automotive amphibious technology centered around military use, with the 1944 WWII Schwimmenwagen (shown above) as a perfect example of an amphibious car developed for military use.

Then in 1951, Ben Carlin and his wife successfully crossed the Atlantic ocean in their amphibious car, the Half-Safe, which was a modified 1942 (SEEP – which stands for sea Jeep) Ford GPA. (The Half-Safe is shown below as it enters the port at Copenhagen.)

Half-Safe Amphibious CarHalf-Safe Amphibious Car image By Unknown photographer [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Say Hello to the Amphicar

As amphibious automotive technology advanced into the 1960’s, these car-boat crossovers began to transform to a more car-like shape, distancing themselves from the boatlike appearance of the early versions.

Classic Amphicar
Classic Amphicar image By user:Enslin (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Amphicar (shown above) was a West German vehicle, in production from 1961 through 1965, though it continued to be marketed in the US through 1967.

The Amphicar was produced in four colors, Lagoon Blue, Fjord Green, Beach White, and Regatta Red – and only 3,878 were ever produced, with US President Lyndon B. Johnson owning a Lagoon Blue model – which he reportedly used to tease guests and make them think the car was out of control as he drove into the lake.

Modern Amphibious Cars

Gibbs Aquada Amphibious Car
Gibs Aquada Amphibious Car image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A couple of more recent cars of this genre are the Gibbs Aquada (shown above – and which, by the way, is the type of car Richard Branson used to set a record crossing the English channel in an amphibious vehicle) which has a shape slightly reminiscent of a 1980’s Corvette and is known for high-speed planing on water – and the Water Car (shown below), which is built in California.

WaterCar Panther
WaterCar Panther image By Kmr1985 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Amphibious vehicles have a rich history in both the military world and in the general population, and I’m thinking it should be fun to see where this fun-in-the-sun technology takes us in the years to come.

If you are looking to buy or sell a classic car, such as an Amphicar or any other classic, feel free to take advantage of the free listings on the Classifieds page.

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