Inventor have been trying to combine the car and the boat for over 100 years. We skipped the obvious ones to bring you the most unique car-boat mashups ever. In a world where driverless cars with artificial intelligence on the rise, we can’t help but wonder why there aren’t more amphibious cars out there! It’s the same deal with flying cars and hotels on the moon: the 21st century has arrived, but we’re missing half of the things we were promised! Where’s my boat car water craft? While there aren’t any good production model cars that can go on land and in water, there are plenty of small producers and eccentric inventors working on exciting water car concept car models and prototypes – and even a few small batch production too. If you’re looking to travel the open road, and open water, in style then check out these epic land to water vehicles!
There’s no Amphicar, Duck, or VW Schwimmwagen on this list, no way. While the West German, Triumph Herald based, Amphicar marvel unveiled by Hanns Trippel at the 1961 New York Auto Show was no doubt impressive, it’s just too obvious a choice for this list! We’ve also omitted military machines dreamed up during and after the last World War too. These are the most obscure, unique amphibious vehicles we could find.
The WaterCar Python is a vehicle capable of being equally unattractive in the water as it is on the land. One aspect of the WaterCar Python which you can’t fault is the performance. Thanks to a GM-sourced V8 – ranging from the LS1 to the LS9 from the Corvette ZR1 the company claim the Python is the fastest amphibious vehicle in the world. With the top-spec LS9 unit the Python can launch itself from 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. Top speed is a more conservative 100 mph on land with power delivered through a four-speed manual transmission, but that’s a small price to pay for driving the world’s fastest amphibious car. The car is packed with United States Coast Guard-approved closed cell foam in the bottom of the hull to stop you from sinking, this car packs the thrill of a jet ski with the comfort and practicality of a car. Who could ask for more?
The Isuzu Nagisa was a 1991 concept vehicle which attempted to meld the on-road capabilities of a car, with the aquatic abilities of a cabin cruiser. It used a 3.2 L Isuzu DOHC V6 engine and was able to reach 65 mph on the highway. Unfortunately because of the compromises required to perform both roles, the Nagisa failed to Isuzu’s standards, and it remained a concept.
Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen
The Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen was a spectacularly ugly attempt to create an amphibious SUV. A prototype was built and shown by the German manufacturer Herzog in 1979, but apparently it never made it to production. The Schwimmwagen (literally “swimming car”) was based on a Mk1 European Ford Granada mounted on a fiberglass hull. There were two engine choices for the Schwimmwagen: a 2.3 L V6 with 114 horsepower, or a larger 2.8 L V6 which provided 135 horsepower. Despite questionable above-the-waterline aerodynamics and a 5,100 lb heft, this strange Schwimmwagen vehicle is capable of 87 mph on land. Its speed on the water is unknown but we doubt it holds the world record for amphibious anything though. Herzog had intended to offer the Schwimmwagen in two different versions. A hardtop version, and a model with a soft top rear roof which could be folded down.
Very few amphibious vehicles are quite as capable on both land and water as the Gibbs Humdinga (which is definitely at the top of the list for best car names). The 5 seat (3 up front, 2 in the back) Humdinga is powered by a 350 hp V8 engine which allows for 100 mph on land and 40 mph on water. When the Humdinga enters the water the wheels fold away so as to not interfere with the flow of water underneath, and drive switches to a water pump jet, powered by the same V8 engine as used on land.
Hydra Terra from C.A.M.I.
The 49 passenger Hydra Terra from C.A.M.I. is an unsinkable amphibious bus. Built for Wonder Bus Tours of Dubai, U.A.E. The Hydra Terra is capable of 75 mph on land and 7 knots on water. C.A.M.I. can construct the Hydra Terra in a variety of configurations and sizes, using heavier duty materials for rough-use deployments (like Middle School bus duty?).
The Terra Wind from C.A.M.I.
The Terra Wind is an amphibious motor home from Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International LLC (C.A.M.I.). With all the comfort associated with a Class A motor home the Terra Wind has the ability to travel on highways at speeds of up to 80 mph and cross the water at 7 knots. A Caterpillar engine, Allison transmission and Neway front and rear air suspension make the drive smooth and reliable. On the water an all aluminum hull, a marine drive transmission and one touch rudder control makes maneuvering the Terra Wind straightforward. Safety features include two onboard automatic fire extinguishers and a three zone bilge pump system.
Introducing the he WaterCar Panther: an amphibious car that looks more like an amphibious Jeep, which is built on a chromoly chassis with a fiberglass hull (filled with flotation foam) and a 250 hp V6 Honda engine that drives through a custom transfer case that directs power either to the propellers at the bottom of the or to drive the rear wheels. The builders claim the 2950 lb. Panther will travel up to 44 mph in the water and 55 mph + on land.
Rinspeed Splash & Rinspeed sQuba
Swiss car design house Rinspeed has a few interesting amphibious boat cars in their portfolio. The Rinspeed Splash was the first from the company to get worldwide attention. It debuted at the Geneva Motor Show back in 2004, but it wasn’t until it appeared on Top Gear that it really received worldwide recognition. The Splash successfully managed to cross the English Channel in 3 hours and 14 minutes…which isn’t that impressive considering how narrow the Strait of Dover is.
However, Rinspeed didn’t give up, and in 2008 the firm pulled the covers off a new amphibious car: the sQuba a zero-emission and all-electric beauty. Essentially, the new car was more than just an amphibious car boat – it was more like a car submarine. Built on top of a Lotus Elise frame, the Rinspeed sQuba “flies” underwater and glides through all that prime underwater real estate. Apparently costing less than a Rolls-Royce, this Lotus styled submarine is a rich-man’s play thing and unlikely to become a regular method of transport for the everyday driver.
The Gibbs Aquada is a high speed amphibious vehicle developed by Gibbs Sports Amphibians and produced only in 2003 and 2004. It balso looks like a Mazda Miata wearing Totes. Powered by a 2.5 L Rover V6 it is capable of speeds of almost 100 mph on land and 31 miles per hour on water. Rather than adding wheels to a boat design, or creating a car that floats, the Aquada was designed from the ground up to perform very well in both fields, with over 60 patents covering technical innovations. And at $300,000 it better. In 2004 Richard Branson used a Gibbs Aquada to set a new record for crossing the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle. Branson cut 4 hours 20 minutes off the previous record of 6 hours, which had stood since the late 1960s. The new officially recorded time was 1 hour 40 minutes and 6 seconds.