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The brainchild of Hans Trippel, the Amphicar is the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass produced. Built in Germany from 1961 to 1968, they were mainly aimed for the American market. To save on production costs, Amphicar outsourced many of its components from other manufacturers; from the British-built Triumph Herald four-cylinder engine to the Mercedes built braking and suspension systems. The Amphicar has a top-speed of 7 mph in the water and 70 mph on land, hence the model name 770. It had a special two-part “land and water” transmission which allowed the wheels and the rear-mounted propellers to be operated either independently or simultaneously. The “land transmission” is a 4-speend-plus-reverse unit, while the “water transmission” is a 2-speed featuring a single forward and reverse gears. There were no rudders, steering on the water used the front wheels. These vehicles were all convertibles and originally were only available in four colors, Beach White, Regatta Red, Lagoon Blue and Fjord Green. When new, the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, relatively cheap when considering it cost nearly 5 million dollars to design. 3,878 Amphicars were produced over the eight years of production, 3,046 imported to the United States. No 1968 models were directly imported into the U.S. due to the governments EPA and DOT regulations. Since 90% of Amphicar sales came in the U.S., these regulations spelled financial disaster for the company and they closed for good in 1968.
- The only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass produced.
- The model number 770 stood for the maximum speeds on the water and land, 7 mph and 70 mph respectively.
- Built in Germany between 1961 and 1968, mainly for the American market.