News and views, and history and humor, about the lake I love.

"I can hear my granddad's stories of the storms out on Lake Erie, where vessels and cargos and fortunes, and sailors' lives were lost." ~ James Taylor, Millworker

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Amphicar: Nutty idea or the best thing since sliced bread?

It may seem odd to most people, but for a boat lover like me, it's like heaven on earth. No, I'm not talking about an on-board jacuzzi. I'm referring to an amphibious car. Just imagine driving along and spotting a beautiful body of water. Instead of thinking, "Gee, wish I had a boat about now," you just drive right in!

Well leave it to the Germans to come up with just such a thing. By far the coolest entry at the Huron Boat and Car Show a few weeks ago was both a boat and a car. It was a 1962 Model 770 Amphicar. Yes, an amphibious car.

I remember reading about this thing back in the 60s and and not long after I actually spotted one driving down the highway in Port Clinton, but this was my first chance to see one up close. It was setting on dry land with the hood up and engine compartment open for inspection. I though, this is cool. Later, when I was walking along the harbor gazing (okay, drooling) at the boats in the water, there it was, chugging down the harbor! The two passenger were having the time of their life, waving to everyone they passed. It was pretty slow, and with a dangerously low freeboard you wouldn't want to take it anywhere where the waves are higher than a foot or two, but was it ever cool.

So I did my research and found out that these cars were imported into North America between 1961 and 1967. They sold new for $2900 at a time when a new Corette sold for $3400. Stricter EPA and DOT regulations that went into effect in 1968 put excessive financial strain on the company that ultimately led to its demise.

This amphibious car was given Model number 770 because it had top speed of 7mph in the water and 70 on land. The car/boat was powered by a 4 cycle, 1200 cc Triumph Herald motor generating 43 horsepower. It was fitted with a custom 4 speed transmission by Hermes, the same company that manufactured Porsche transmissions. It came wired with a 12 volt positive ground electrical.

Okay, it may not be practical, or safe, but man is it cool.


  1. Wow! Love this car! Wish I could have seen it in person. Great pictures and story too!

  2. Thank you, I wish I had one of these!