|2012 The Houston Classic Auction
ESTIMATE: $65,000 - $ 85,000
CHASSIS NO: 106522690
Four-cylinder Triumph Herald engine, 43HP, four-speed manual land transmission, two-speed (forward and reverse) marine transmission, 15 1/2 foot waterline; wheelbase: 80”
The Amphicar was built in Germany from 1961 to 1968, and is a truly international creation. It occupies a unique niche in automotive history, and any time an owner drives right off the road into the water, you can be sure a crowd will gather. There is a very active group of “swimmers,” as the owners prefer to be known, a vibrant club with a very cool website, annual meets, and a ready supply of parts.
The Amphicar is the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass produced, and traces its roots back to the Schwimmwagen developed by Germany in the ‘40s. Nearly all of the modern production was sold in the U.S. market, with 3,046 Amphicars imported between 1961 and 1967. The Amphicar is a rear engine design, and uses a reliable four-cylinder British-built Triumph Herald motor producing 43hp. All Amphicars are convertibles and were originally offered in only four colors: Beach White, Regatta Red, Lagoon Blue and Fjord Green (Aqua).
The Amphicar has a top speed of about 7 mph on water and 70 mph on land, thus, it was dubbed the "Model 770." The Amphicar is moved in the water by its twin nylon propellers. A special two-part land-and-water transmission built by Hermes (makers of the Porsche transmission) allows the wheels and propellers to be operated either independently or simultaneously, allowing a smooth transition from land to water and vice versa. The "land transmission" is a manual four-speed-plus-reverse unit similar to those found in the classic Volkswagen Beetles. The "water transmission" is a two-speed offering unique to the Amphicar, featuring single forward and reverse gears. In the water, the front wheels act as rudders.
The backbone of the Amphicar's electrics is a Lucas 12 volt positive ground system with certain items such as the horn, lighting and switches made by other manufacturers such as Hella and Bosch. The interiors are similar to the British sports cars of the day, all left-hand drive, and aside from a few switches, navigation lights, and a secondary door latch to prevent the unnautical act of opening the door while “swimming,” the cars present themselves as a sporty little convertible typical of the era. When new the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year. Total production was 3,878 vehicles. Eventually, the new U.S. EPA and DOT regulations for 1968 caused a major financial disaster for the Amphicar Corporation, and the factory in Berlin closed that year.
The stunning 1961 Amphicar presented here is a beautifully-restored example finished in red paintwork with white painted steel wheels, chrome hubcaps, and period-style whitewall tires. Other exterior features include front and rear navigation lights and an externally-mounted horn, all in excellent condition. Likewise, the attractive interior presents just as well, detailed in red and white vinyl upholstery with black rubber matted floors. The Amphicar is also fitted with a dash-mounted clock and floor-mounted levers for the land and water transmissions. Under the hood, the restored engine compartment has been thoroughly detailed, and contains a 70 cubic inch Triumph four-cylinder engine, which displays correct finishes and components throughout. Ready to drive or navigate, it will certainly be a unique addition to your garage… or boathouse!
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