amphicar.jpg taken by Bolko Rawicz (

amphicar1.jpg taken by Yours truly :-) in a San Marino Automuseum in the summer of 1994

The following info on Amphicars is extracted from John Kuerzi's Foreign Affairs article published in this month's Skinned Knuckles. Skinned Knuclkes is "A journal of car restoration", it is a somewhat slim (50 page) monthly. It has three feature columns, On Restoration by Matt Joseph, a skilled shopmeister, Foreign Affairs, by John Kuerzi, and The Postwar Motorcar, by Orest Lazarowich. Joseph's column is a discussion of tool technology, shop methods and a little bit of politics. Kuerzi focuses mainly on history and collectability of European iron. Lazarowich has had a continuing series on theory and repair of automatic transmissions for the past couple of years. In addition, there is a Reader's Forum, reprints of service bulletins from the 20's and 30's, a What Went Wrong column and occasional contributions from readers. The highlight of the year is the Reader's Shop Ideas issue. If you are interested in old cars in general, this mag is kind of like sitting around on barrels in the radiator shop listening to war stories. I like it. It is probably too broadly-based if your interest is restricted to lbc's. Subscriptions are $18/yr ($35/$51 for 2 and 3 yrs, respectively), and may be had by writing SK at 175 May Avenue, Monrovia, CA, 91016. Some back issues are available. I have no connection with the people who publish SK.

The article is a general history of amphibious vehicles, inspired by last month's deluge in southern CA. Begins with a description of Oliver Evans Orukter Amphibolos, built in 1804 as a dredge. Steam-powered, it could achieve a speed of about 4 mph (how did they know? Steam-powered radar?) but was a problem because the wheels continually collapsed.

In 1932, Hans Trippel (of Germany) built a prototype amphibian that went into production as the SG6. 4wd, 4 cyl power, was adapted for military usage in the conflagration that followed -- apparently over 1000 units were built in the captured Bugatti factory at Molsheim.

The "Eurocar", soon to be called Amphicar, appeared at the 1959 Geneva auto show, brainchild of our friend Hans Trippel. It was built from a Continental montage of bits, with a fair amount of reference to the VW-produced Schwimmwagen from the war years. Went into production in 1961. Powered originally by a BMC "A" series, but soon changed to the 1147 cc Herald mill coupled to a Hermes 4-speed, with separate shafts to drive the twin nylon propellors. Body was steel monocoque, apparently from that special alloy used for Triumph floorpans and doorsills, in that usage in salt water caused the car to dissolve before one's very eyes.

Top speed of about 70 mph on land and 6.5 knots at sea. All steering via the front wheels. This worked well for starboard turns, which were aided by the propellor torque, but port turns had a radius apparently resembling that of the Queen Mary. Capsule judgment was that the beast was novel, but a compromise at best. Ride and handling on both land and water were choppy and somewhat unpredictable, but in water it was sufficiently slow that it was hard to get into too much trouble. Just remember not to rely on the brake pedal....

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Copyright April 1995.

Paul Negyesi

I'm no way related to this company or their products. I have no responsibility for the accuracy of the above info. This document or parts of it cannot be used for commercial purposes.