THIS BOAT IS A CAR! (Jul, 1960)

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IT’S a boat! It’s a car! It does everything but fly! In fact, it’s Amphicar, a West German import that looks like a jazzy convertible and, when driven off the road into a lake or river, becomes an efficient motorboat.

The car’s water-tight body is 15-1/2 ft. long, has a wheelbase of 80 in. and weighs 1,738 lbs. Fuel consumption is said to be 32 mpg on land and two gallons per hour on the water. The Austin four-cylinder engine is water-cooled.

For on-water drive, a switch lever operates two stern propellers at forward or reverse speed.

Recommended for fishermen and outdoor sportsmen, the Amphicar will sell in the U. S. for under $3,000. •

  1. LightningRose says: April 11, 201110:41 am

    I’m surprised that by 1960 it’s still worth noting that an automobile has hydraulic brakes.

  2. Charlene says: April 11, 201111:01 am

    Didn’t they have one of these in the 1966 Batman movie?

  3. Andrew L. Ayers says: April 11, 201111:55 am

    @LightningRose: I am currently reading the 1960 year of Popular Science; I started with January 1950. 1960 is an interesting year; while hydraulic brakes are common on many new cars, older car owners had to do a re-fit (kits and such were available, and advertised in PS). Also, power-brakes boosted by manifold vacuum are a new thing, and apparently dual-cylinder ones (separate cylinders for front and rear) are just coming into vogue. There were a lot of changes going on in automobiles (rear-transaxles were supposed to be the “future”, instead of front-wheel drive; also, the use of the booster for brakes apparently made it move to the firewall position it now occupies; before, the booster was located under the floorpan, and access via a small panel in the floor near the brake pedal).

  4. Hirudinea says: April 11, 20113:33 pm

    Was this made for commuters in Venice?

  5. Mike Brown says: April 12, 20116:38 am

    I remember they had a bunch of these at the 1964-65 Worlds Fair in New York. You could buy a ride down a ramp, around the lagoon and back.

    The Amphicar has been listed in several books I’ve read about the world’s worst cars. It wasn’t a very good car, and wasn’t a very good boat, either. Apparently, steering in the water with the front wheels didn’t make the car/boat very maneuverable, and it wasn’t particularly fast. On land, it apparently would cruise fine at 60MPH – if there isn’t a hill.

    In the end, quoting the enthusiast at the Amphicar Club’s website, criticizing the Amphicar for not being a very good car or a very good boat is like criticizing a pig doing the tango – “So what if the pig is a little slow or sloppy in its chops and steps? What’s really notable is that there’s a pig doing the tango!, Right? “

  6. John says: April 12, 20119:26 am

    Mike Brown: I think your memory might be mixing the Ford Magic Skyway with the Log Flume. There doesn’t seem to be any reference to Amphicars at the Fair.

  7. Mike Brown says: April 13, 20117:11 am

    No, my memory’s fine (on this point, at least, don’t ask what I had for breakfast).

    There’s a page on a Worlds Fair website which even has a picture of one of the Amphicars at the fair:…

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