What is an Amphibious car?
The Amphibious car or Amphicar was a convertible that could operate on roads and in water. Although commercial production of the car only began in 1961 in West Germany, the history of the amphibious car’s original design can be traced back to World War II.
The design for the Amphicar came from its predecessor the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen. That amphibious military vehicle was designed by engineer Hans Trippel, a member of the Sturmabteilung paramilitary branch under the Nazis.
In 1961, the first Amphicars were manufactured under the Quandt Group, an industrial empire run by the stepson of Joseph Goebbels. The Quandt Group still owns stakes in the luxury car brand BMW to this day.
The car’s production officially ran until 1965, but more Amphicars were made from the remaining parts until 1968. All told, the Quandt Group produced 3,878 amphibious cars. Although its numbers might be modest, the Amphicar remains the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass-produced to date.
An uphill struggle
The infrastructure needed to support the amphibious car’s unique capabilities simply didn’t exist. For the driver of an Amphicar to launch their vehicle into the water, there needed to be sufficient space, like a proper ramp. These kinds of setups were limited.
Though compact, the Amphicar was also a high-maintenance automobile. After five hours in the water, the engine needed to be greased, which could only be done by lifting the entire car and taking out the rear seats. Exposure to saltwater made it vulnerable to erosion, so it needed to be frequently cleaned thoroughly with fresh water.
Amphicar was unable to meet the new regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency so the 1968 model couldn’t be sold in the States. This devastated sales since the majority of purchases came from the U.S.
Taking seven years to complete, the Aquada surpasses its 1960s predecessor, the German Amphicar, which only achieved a speed of 70 mph on land and 7 mph on the water.
Paving the way for Aquada’s grand entrance are three new military models in development for the U.S. Navy and Special Forces, produced by the newly partnered Lockheed Martin and Gibbs Technologies. These models will be equipped with the same technology employed in the Aquada.
The three models are:
The Terraquad, reaching 50 mph on land and 55 mph on water and resembling a tractor mixed with an Army tank.
The Amphibious Combat Craft-Expeditionary (ACC-E), travelling at 80 mph on land and 45 mph in the water, which appears to look a lot like a Hummer crossed with an Army tank.
The Amphibious Combat Craft-Riverine (ACC-R), cruising at 65 mph on land and 40 mph in the water, looks like a mix between a platoon tank and a submarine.
All of these vehicles will be used for military purposes. And for common people, there are going to be more models coming up in the future.