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Is It A Car Or Is It A Boat?

By raccars Published

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James Bond's submarining Lotus Esprit is not the only car with an identity crisis, with amphibious cars an inexplicably popular experiment among car makers and inventors alike. For times when you need to escape a marauding Caroline Munro's helicopter assassination attempts, but the Lotus is in the shop getting a service, you could try searching out one of these...

VW Type 166

They say necessity is the mother of invention, which is probably why times of war have proved a fertile ground for wacky contraptions, such as VW's swimming Kubelwagen of WWII. The military off roader became the 128 and 166 Schwimmwagens, which were built in thousands.

Gibbs Aquada

In 2004, Richard Branson set a new record for crossing the Channel in this amphibious car, which looks like it came out of a Chinese factory for Citroen DS knock offs in the mid Nineties. Later, Gibbs inventions included the Humdinga SUV and the Quadski ATV, all of which were acknowledged to be competent and capable but somehow have never managed to compete with the likes of the Ford Fiesta for sales.


The first attempt to bring amphibious cars to the masses was the Amphicar, a Cadillac resembling a two door cabriolet, rather underpowered by the Triumph Herald's 43bhp engine. Comically, it was built of steel and while only about 4,000 were ever built, it was considered a success in commercial terms. The Amphicar is very collectible today.

Dutton Surf

The brainchild of colourful kit car entrepreneur, Tim Dutton-Woolley, the Suzuki Jimny based Dutton Surf took its creator across the Channel in 2006. In contrast to Branson's one hour and 40 minute record breaking journey, the Surf took seven hours, but earned its pilot the dubious distinction of being the only person to use an amphibious car to cross the Channel twice. A similar invention nearly landed Dutton-Woolley a jail sentence a few years earlier, when he tried to sell it for pleasure cruises around Lake Windermere. A Dutton Surf costs £30,000 to buy.

Watercar Python

The fastest amphibious car in the word costs £130,000, thanks to a Corvette engine. It takes the form of a convertible SUV and can achieve 125mph on the road and 60mph on the waves.

Rinspeed Splash

Shown as a concept at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show, the Splash sprouts hydrofoils at the touch of a button and can apparently reach 50mph on water. On land it can get to 62mph in 5.9 seconds, using a natural gas engine but was never put into production.

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