749 words • 4~6 min read

A brief, poorly researched, history of amphibious vehicles

James Bond had them. Baltimore’s inner harbor has them. Mitt Romney is probably building one for each of his moon mansions. From the Alligator Tug to the Boston Duck Boats, amphibious vehicles have been with us for more than a century. Which is why it’s strange to see a headline, dated June 21st, 2012, touting “WORLD’S FIRST AMPHIBIOUS CAR REVEALED“.

Now, if we want to strictly limit ourselves to production line, non-military, non-commercial vehicles (so no decommissioned beach landers or custom fanboat VW bugs), than the first amphibious vehicle was probably the Amphibicar, way back in 1965:

Notoriously leaky, not entirely stable, but still pretty swank. If Romney ever finishes building his moon mansion’s moon ocean pool for amphibious moon cars, he’ll join the ranks of former president Lyndon Johnson, who also owned an Amphibicar.

If retro space fins aren’t your thing, and, barring a moon mansion moon pool for your moon… (Ed: stop, we get it Andrew. Mitt Romney is insanely rich and so out of touch that he might as well live on the moon. Can we get back to amphibious cars now?). If you’re looking for something a bit more modern, you could try you hand at the Gibbs Aquada. notable among amphbious vehicles as being a pretty good car and a pretty good boat. It broke the Amphibicar’s English Channel crossing record by more than 4 hours, piloted by none other than that guy who’s kind of like James Cameron.

The Gibbs Aquada: Proving that no matter how much money you have, inexperienced boaters still drive around with the fenders out

The Gibbs Aquada: Proving that no matter how much money you have, inexperienced boaters still drive around with the fenders out

But what if you’re rather handy and like to build things yourself? Well, WaterCar, who claims to have the fastest car on the water, has a kit for you. If you’re looking for speed, you might be better off buying their Python. Don’t be afraid of that $200,000 price tag you can just do what Mitt Romney did and borrow it from his parents. Also, the doors can be opened at sea, if you’re in to that sort of thing.

courtesy WaterCar.com - http://www.watercar.com/html/watercar_python.html

courtesy WaterCar.com – http://www.watercar.com/html/watercar_python.html

Ok, so there’s a few floating cars out there, but what I really want is a car that can sink, and then, later, un-sink. Where can I find one of those? Well, my friend, Rinspeed has your number. Instead of reading my commentary, just watch this video:

So what’s the point of this poorly researched, ill-conceived history of aquatic cars? Well, if you’re going to write silly headlines that are easily disproved by Google, someone is going to make fun of you. To be fair, the Sea Lion looks pretty cool, and I like that they went with a skiff style instead of the weird no-boat shapes of other amphibious cars, but the world’s first it ain’t. I am fascinated to find out how they constructed “extraordinary stainless steel exteriors made of brushed aluminium” since those are two completely different metals.


Deep-sea biologist, population/conservation geneticist, backyard farm advocate. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.


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