Hot Wheels Inspiration: Amphicar 770 Custom

The owner of this customized Amphicar 770 claims that it is a vehicle that may have served as the inspiration for a Hot Wheels diecast model that appeared on toy shop shelves a few years ago. Whether this is accurate or not is unclear, but the customization work that has been performed on this distinctive little car has resulted in a vehicle that is both more powerful and more, um…distinctive. The Amphicar is located in Fenton, Missouri, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has now reached $5,322, and the reserve hasn’t been met.

Look, let’s be honest here. The styling of the Amphicar is not the stuff of oil paintings. The modifications that have been performed on the body of this car probably haven’t helped its cause in that respect, but they do serve a practical purpose (which we’ll get to shortly). The owner refers to the color as aquamarine, but I think that it is an original Amphicar color known as Fjord Green. The body itself appears to be in pretty fair condition, with only a few minor marks on the paint. The Amphicar features a custom removable top, but it does look to be a bit ungainly. What the owner doesn’t mention is the condition of the vehicle’s floors. A few rust holes in the floor of a classic muscle car can be quite acceptable, but finding that you have the same issues in an Amphicar just as you’ve driven down a boat ramp and into a lake is going to cause you a world of pain. That’s one area that I would be checking quite carefully.

I said that the custom bodywork was there for practical purposes, and now we see why. The original 1,147cc Triumph Herald engine and the Amphicar’s original transmission have both been consigned to the history books. In their place, we find the venerable 3.8-liter Buick V6 engine, a 3-speed automatic transmission from a Dodge Power Wagon, and a rear end from an Alpine. The custom panels not only help to conceal this new combination but offer a housing for the larger radiator and transmission cooler that is required to keep this lot in good health. In standard form, the “770” model designation signified that an Amphicar was capable of a top speed of 70mph on land, and 7 knots on water. I suspect that the top speed on the open road is now a bit higher than 70mph, but with all of that extra weight hanging out the back, I don’t fancy chucking the thing into a corner at any speed. It isn’t clear how well the car actually does drive, so we just have to guess at that. I personally have quite a phobia when it comes to dealing with most forms of watercraft, and an Amphicar would be no exception. Even in standard form, they do have a tendency to display a “tail down” attitude when on the water. I really have to wonder whether this is something that would be worse in this new configuration because there is a lot more weight at the rear of the car now. It is possible that this won’t be a huge concern anyway. The owner says that he hasn’t tested the vehicle on water, and he has found that the drive chain for the original propellers is missing. Maybe that’s for the best.

The customization work continues inside the Amphicar, and to me, this is probably the highlight of this vehicle. The car would have originally featured waterproof carpet on the floor, but a more practical rubber floor mat is there instead. The seat upholstery is a custom type, while the door trims feature some interesting timber inserts. The upholstery colors are close to the original trim, but not identical. There is also a floor console which not only houses the shifter for the automatic transmission, but a rather neat Sunpro Super Tach II. The dash is an interesting mix of original and custom. The fascia itself is original, but an aftermarket CD player has been added. There are a significant collection of switches and knobs, and most of these appear to be unlabelled. Dominating the dash is a Phase Linear digital display, which provides most of the information that you would normally find in an analog gauge cluster. Thankfully, an instruction manual for this system is included with the car.

As a practical custom, I think that this 1969 Amphicar probably misses the boat (sorry!). However, as a distinctive custom that will attract a significant amount of attention, I think that this is a car that really does hit that nail on the head. I wouldn’t be surprised if the additional weight over the rear of the car puts paid to its amphibious capabilities. As a conversation starter at a Cars & Coffee, I doubt that there would be a stronger candidate than this vehicle, so it will be interesting to see if it eventually reaches its reserve.


  1. Mike

    So THAT’S how we got the phrase “WTF”. Who knew?

    Like 19
  2. KevinLee

    I’ve looked at this at every angle in the provided pictures, and I’m just not getting it. On the back, is it a park bench, or a church pew? And why? Saying it drives well in the snow is a moot point.

    Like 7
  3. 8banger dave Member

    Well, I’ve seen it all now. But really, that 223 Dauntless IS a good mill, has plenty of scoot, and lasts a long time.

    Like 2
  4. Coventrycat

    Looks like something else that also floats in the water.

    Like 16
  5. Dan

    Looks like it’s sporting a set of cheesy wheel covers that were purchased at Wal-Mart. I agree wholeheartedly with Coventrycat’s comment.

    Like 2
  6. Little_Cars

    1969 Amphicar? Adam, I think you are off by a decade.

    To add to the comments here….really it’s just a display vehicle, totally impractical for it’s original use or any modern conveyance other than a careful drive to the local show and shine. Interior and wheelcovers look like the worst of malaise 1980s Americana. The aquamarine finish just emphasizes the worst of the body mods. I would have chosen a deeper hue.

    Like 1
    • Little_Cars

      Sorry Adam, I see you were just repeating what the seller used in his auction listing. The seller also has this “1973 Porsche Tin-Top Westfalia” Tin-Top Westfalia? Porsche? Not sure I could trust this dealer to identify a good car from a bad one.

      Like 3
  7. Arfwoof

    A bad car AND a bad boat all in one!

    Like 3
  8. Darrun

    I’ve never seen this one on the Hot Wheels display. ??

    Like 1
  9. Little_Cars

    73 Porsche Westfalia also listed by this seller.

    Like 1
  10. David Frank David Frank Member

    It’s sad to see what’s been done to this thing. Perhaps a short trip into a lake would be a fitting end for it. I had no interest in Amphicars until I drove one a couple of weeks ago. They really are great fun! All the folks who came for rides had big happy fun. It was really strange driving into the river and joining the crowd of boats and jet skis. Steering with the front wheels puts the rudder on the wrong end. It drives in the water like it does on land, poorly, but it is fun.

    Like 6
  11. gbvette62

    The Hot Wheels Amphicar looked nothing like this monstrosity. The Hot Wheels one is pretty cool, in a toy/caricature sort of way. Here’s a link to pictures of the Hot Wheels Amphicar.

    Like 3
    • Darrun

      Yeah…I could drive that one!!

  12. Moparman Member

    I think the elephant in the room is this: Have the modifications rendered the “Amphi” part of this creation invalid?? Since the propeller drive chains are missing, and apparently there have been no “water trials”, it would seem to be that this has turned into a faster, possibly more unstable car!! :-)

    Like 2
  13. Gsuffa Gsuffa Member

    Air filters are restrictive, so use the smallest one you can.

    Like 1
  14. BR

    Total lack of engineering competence. The ductwork looks stupid and out of place, out of scale, and out of practicality. A horizontal fan from a Corvair with a horizontal radiator would have been the perfect solution to keep most of the original lines. I can barely look at it.

    Like 3
  15. That Guy

    This is several reality tv shows’ worth of bad ideas rolled into one weird package. It should be called the “Whatcouldpossiblygowrongicar.”

    Like 1
  16. Boatman Member

    George Barris is rolling over in his grave!

    Like 1
  17. Wayne

    They ruined a not so wonderful car.
    Renault steering wheel?

  18. rustylink

    the whole point of the car is the water travel aspect – and I’m sorry – with that cocktail napkin engineering fiasco I’m not attempting that in this thing. The lightweight Triumph motor has been replaced with a Buick V6 on a craft that already had questionable abilities to master anything beyond a small ripple on a lake. Good luck with the salvage operation.

    Like 1
  19. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    As someone who is familiar with these car/boat vehicles, I must make it clear that the Amphicar tends to ride VERY low in the water in standard mode.

    When a boat is typically pushed forward to gain speed, the bow raises up, with the stern squatting a bit. The opposite tends to happen when slowing down quickly. If not designed well [and who would dare challenge the possibility this was not designed well], and the vehicle’s speed is suddenly decreased, with the craft already riding low in the water, it’s a serious possibility this vehicle will literally dive front first under the surface, resulting in an Amphicar submersible.

    My shop did a full resto of one of these many years ago, and prior to final detailing, we took it to a friend’s farm and slowly let it slide into his small lake. The Amphicar was attached to our tow truck’s winch cable, just in case it had to be pulled out quickly. [It didn’t – no leaks!]

    And yes, even very rusty ones can be made watertight, all it takes is skilled metal workers, a Mig welder & metal working tools, and of course, lots of $$$.

    Like 1
  20. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended: Aug 12, 2019 , 4:54PM
    Current bid:US $9,211.00
    Reserve not met
    [ 33 bids ]

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