Make Waves: 1964 Amphicar 770

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The cheerful, whacky Amphicar has an unsavory genesis. Its designer was Hans Trippel, a German industrial designer, auto enthusiast – and member of the Sturmabteilung, a Nazi para-military force. When Germany invaded France, Trippel ran the Bugatti plant for a time, and while there, shifted production to his own amphibious car design, the Schwimmwagen SG6. Originally intended for civilian use, the SG6 was swept into the tide of wartime service, a tool for Germany’s ground forces. It was one of several Schwimmwagen models, including those made by Volkswagen, used for amphibious warfare. After the war, Trippel spent just two years in prison, then bounced back into manufacturing, focusing on civilian markets. Fixated on amphibious cars, he modified his pioneering design to introduce the Amphicar at the New York Auto Show in 1961. Quandt Group, run by Harald Quandt, a lieutenant in the Luftwaffe whose stepfather was Joseph Goebbels, manufactured the car. (Quandt Group still owns a hunk of BMW.) Now that I’ve tarnished the cheerful demeanor of the Amphicar, which actually has a berth at Disney Springs where visitors can take rides, I’ll introduce this 1964 Amphicar 770 on craigslist, with an asking price of $60,000. This example paddles around Mukilteo, Washington. Thanks to T.J. for finding this vessel!

The first Amphicars received an 1147 cc 43 hp Triumph Herald motor mounted in the rear, driving the wheels through a four-speed manual gearbox. Displacement grew over time to top out at 1493 cc’s. When in the water, the motor turned propellers controlled by a second gearshift. The front wheels acted as crude rudders. In the water, it managed about 7 knots, and on land, 70 mph – thus the “770” designation. After a twenty-five-year slumber in storage, this Amphicar has been treated to the substantial renewal of several components. It has one mile on new brakes, complete all the way to the e-brake; new wheel bearings; new carburetor; new electronic ignition; new generator, starter, muffler, battery, fuel tank, and lines. The seller indicates the odometer reading is 6,000 miles.

The interior is largely original. But the gauges, wiring harness, windshield, and seals are new. The wiper motor and all lights and sockets have been replaced. It even rides on new tires. Speaking of which, the waistline on these cars is quite high, so it can launch properly when you want to take it swimming.

Cosmetics are fair here, but the seller says everything works, and I’d say if you’re going to be transitioning from land to water and back, functionality should be the priority. Values have skyrocketed over the years. Several are available for well into six figures, but if that’s too rich, here’s a show-quality Regatta Red example at $85k. If our seller were so inclined, he could probably achieve a slightly higher price using a different sales venue; what do you think?

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. Alan R ChurchMember

    In spite of its murky beginnings, it would make a great toy for the man who has everything!!!☮️♥️🎸

    Like 8
    • RKS

      I had one briefly. The novelty wore off VERY fast. It went like a boat on land and a car in the water. I was glad when it left.

      Like 17
      • Michael Ferrino Jr.

        I was Jonsing for one in the 70’s. Instead of going into the woods when cops chasing me. I figured Id blow the cops mind driving across the lake. Young and Not thinking clearly at the time. Yes, many said they didn’t drive good as either at the time. Thanks

        Like 7
  2. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Nice write up. ‘so it can launch properly when you want to take it swimming.’ LOL!

    Like 5
  3. RayT

    Michelle rocks it again, with an entertaining and fact-filled writeup!

    One word of caution: these should be restricted to freshwater boating only, as salt has the same effect on them as it does on any car. I remember seeing a couple in Canada that were used for island-hopping on the Pacific Coast and they were terminally afflicted rot-mobiles.

    Hard for me to wrap my head around the price, but I suppose if you can afford that, you might already own a really big swimming pool….

    Like 9
  4. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    One of the attributes of being the excellent writer you are, Michelle, is your penchant for a brief but thorough historical background of your subject matter. All the years we’ve all seen these I for one had no idea of the origins!

    “Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, learn as if you’d live forever”. (Mahatma Gandhi-incredible guy).

    Like 5
  5. Fred W

    One of the few times I can believe a claim of 6000 original miles, for obvious reasons!

    Like 7
  6. TheOldRanger

    I remember these… and I was at a freshwater inland lake when a guy “launched” by driving down the ramp. I had a 26 ft Bass Pro pontoon boat. The guy drove over to my BP and asked if I wanted to take a “spin”… I did, but I was totally unnerved the whole time (5 minutes was enough for me). Later that day, I heard this guy got swamped by 3 speed boats in the area, and I hear he got out of the water, but not his “vehicle”…. I’ll stick to my pontoon, thank you

    Like 5
  7. gippy

    Floating cars, flying cars- solutions looking for a problem. How many times in a person’s life did he suddenly find a need to drive his car in the water and float to a destination. And as far as flying cars are concerned, drive on any freeway and then imagine that same bunch of idiots flying around the sky.

    Like 15
  8. Jim Weaver

    I remember one sinking just past the rocky river breakwater near Cleveland. Maybe late 60s.

    Like 3
    • JustPassinThru

      Coincidences. I remember one on my school-bus route, in a nearby West Side suburb…not far from Valley Parkway. I was 6 to 11 years old, (mid-1960s) and was intrigued by that car in that driveway, with propellers on the back.

      It’s the only one I’d ever seen in Cleveland. My older brother had a subscription to Popular Mechanics, and they (Robert Gannon, their own Hunter-Thompson wannabe) tested the Amphicar in a New Orleans flood.

      So, the guy on Root Road, sank his Amphicar. As a kid, I thought it fascinating. Now, with some sense…and also, having read stories about how Amphicars would rust faster than early Toyotas…not so much.

      Like 5
  9. John

    I spent the money at Disney and took a ride in one of their Amphicars. Checked that off my automotive bucket list. Was very cool and worth the $$$. I would never own one for myself. I got my fill. for about a hundred bucks. Will do it again there one day.

    Like 4
  10. Glenn ReynoldsMember

    It’s a bad car, a bad boat and a bad idea. Why they bring strong money is beyond me.

    Like 9
  11. 99-WS6-1LE

    The answer to a question no one asked…

    Like 3
  12. Chinga-Trailer

    Let’s hope it doesn’t “:paddle around Mukilteo, Washington” – it will dissolve quickly in the salt water!

    Like 0
  13. Howie

    This looks like great shape and low miles. But still overpriced.

    Like 4
  14. BimmerDudeMember

    I’ve always been fascinated by these dual purpose vehicles, would not expect it to do either task “well,” but adequately and a head-turner when you go down the launch ramp and keep going.

    Vacationing years ago in Paris we were crossing the Seine and saw a houseboat/barge with their backup vehicle on it, that made perfect sense for that need.

    Like 5
  15. RalphP

    I remember seeing a couple of these trolling along in Lake Mahopac (NY) on the weekends back in the 1960’s. Been fascinated with them ever since.

    Like 2
    • LMK

      RalphP, Lake Mahopac in the 1960’s. Now that brings back great memories for me….a boy who vacationed in Brewster, N.Y. in the 1960’s.

      Like 1
  16. Steven Meteer

    a red 1967 amphicar 770 just sold on BaT for over $101k. crazy money for such a car/boat. they are faster than the vw shwimmwagen both on and off the road.

    Like 1
  17. ServiceVet

    In Dundee Illinois there was Santa’s Village and they have a few of these in a lagoon you could take rides in.

    Like 2
    • PRA4SNW

      Same thing at Disney in Florida. Here’s a photo from a few years ago when I visited.

      You could buy a ride in one.

      Like 3
  18. Mountainwoodie

    Whats the old saying..slightly modified………..a car that can float is a hole surrounded by metal that you pour money into .

    Can’t believe the prices they brings………..saw one parked on a street in NYC in the mid sixties, believe it or not. Don’t know where they launched it though. If it went into the East River it would have dissolved lol.

    Like 1

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