As far as unique cars go, our Find of the Week might be as special as they get. No, it’s not a rare supercar or an expensive custom Porsche, but we’re pretty sure if it’s looks you’re after, you’ll get way more attention in this Amphicar 770.
“If it’s a nice sunny day, you can get 200 people around you,” says its seller, Michael Smith.
This amphibious half-boat-half-car listed for sale on the autoTRADER.ca marketplace in Hamilton, Ont., was fully restored by Smith, 72, who ironically can’t swim. “I swim like a brick,” he said in an interview. “I always make sure to wear a lifejacket.” This is Smith’s fourth Amphicar.
“They’re fun,” Smith said. “You can just drive them right in! Down the road and straight in the water.”
[In the video below, you can see Smith doing what he calls an "extreme entry" into the water with the Amphicar featured in this article. Warning: There is some NSFW language in this video!]
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Through its brief production run from 1960 to 1965, there were only about 3,800 made and very few examples still exist today (even fewer that are still seaworthy). The Amphicar was assembled in Germany using British parts (like a Triumph engine) and this version has only 3,916 miles on the odometer. Most Amphicars were imported into the United States.
The rear-engine vehicle has a four-cylinder motor that gets power to the wheels via a four-speed manual land transmission, and to the two rear propellers via a two-gear (forward and reverse) water transmission. The wheels and propellers can be operated simultaneously or independently, so unlike an actual boat, you could drive yourself right out of the water and up a ramp.
Smith first saw an Amphicar in downtown Burlington, Ont., in the 1960s and was hooked ever since.
Smith, who is a retired mechanic, says this show-condition version was only used in freshwater, noting that Amphicars that were used in saltwater are prone to rust. He writes in the listing that it’s “very tight,” has “no leaks,” and that it "runs and floats great."
Although it appears to be in great condition, Smith warns that it’s terrible to drive as a car, but much easier and more comfortable as a boat.
“They don’t go very fast, maybe 70 miles an hour top speed on the road,” he said. “Because the suspension is designed also for water, they’re very hard to drive on the road. It’s very bumpy and stiff. It’s not an enjoyable drive.”
Smith says the open-top Amphicar is “very easy in the water,” however, and that the front wheels act like rudders. Because it’s amphibious, Smith notes that you’ll need both a driver’s licence and a boating licence to operate it on land and in water, and that it’s legally registered as both a boat and a car. On water, its top speed is about 7 knots and combined with its 70 mph land speed, that's where the name 770 comes from.
A lot of automakers say their cars have two purposes, as they're equally "at home on the road and on the track" but if you're looking for a real dual-purpose vehicle, this Amphicar could be just the ticket.