Never Seen One: 1963 Submersible Submarine

With the going rate for a person, two-man submarine well into the millions of dollars, may I present to you a more affordable alternative? This no-name two man submersible submarine supposedly hails from 1963, but that’s about all the seller tells us about this oddball, which looks both hugely fun and abjectly terrifying considering this is essentially an adult Powerwheels that goes below the waves. The seller indicates that it’s still “…super fun,” which I can only take to mean that he’s been under the waves with this Jetsons-era creation. Find it here on Facebook in Connecticut for $7,500.

Now, I love stuff like this, seemingly created at a time when safety regulations were a few steps behind the manufacturing phase. In other words, I feel something like this today would be so strangled and smothered by regulations, there’s no way it’d ever reach meaningful production. And maybe that would keep some folks safe, but man – how boring! Per my earlier comment about modern day personal submarines being incredibly expensive, I’d love to know if this was the submarine for everyone, or if it, too, was out of reach of most consumers when you adjust for inflation. More to the point, I want to hear more from the seller about his apparently active use of this underwater artifact.

The seller includes a period photo of the submarine, likely from a brochure or some other piece of marketing material. It shows the obvious, which is that occupants need to don sufficient scuba gear before heading underwater, and that this looks like a hell of a lot of fun. There’s no information in the listing about how this submarine is powered, and that is a vital piece of information, largely just to satisfy the curiosity behind who made this and how. Did it use some derivative of a lawn tractor engine or is it more sophisticated than that? Do any of our readers recognize from whence this oddball creation came?

The interior is incredible spartan and leaves more questions than it answers. How, exactly, does this thing work? Does the battery really reside in a small case between the front occupant’s legs? I don’t even know how you’d sit in this submarine with fins on your feet. The history of this unusual submarine is perhaps as fascinating as the machine itself, if only we could learn more about its original manufacturer. The Barn Finds readership has helped us out with oddballs like these before, so please weigh in below if you know anything about this unusual two-man submarine.

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Comments

  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    I would imagine that careful restoration will leave the new owner to be under water…[rimshot]

    Like 44
    • Douglas Still

      “Don’t forget to tip your waitstaff, I’m here all week” ;-)

      Like 1
  2. Moparman Member

    Mr. Bond, your escape pod awaits! LOL!! :-)

    Like 23
    • Mike

      Escape pods are for Bond villains. Bond uses a Lotus. :)

      Like 16
      • Chuck

        I think this is more of a Mike Nelson vehicle.

        Like 9
      • schooner

        Where its downforce was readily apparent. Bow planes full up.

    • Douglas Still

      “One Meeeeeeilllon Dolllars!” BwhaHaHaHa!!!

      Like 1
  3. Arthell64 Member

    I wonder what keeps it from sinking to the bottom and how does it lift. I’m assuming it has air tanks maybe. Interesting machine.

    Like 10
    • David Taylor

      Explanation from old scuba diver: Pic 1 above shows front of vehicle. Obvious is a square rod pointing left of the vehicle. The round thingy out front is the spotlight. Pic 2 is a different and clearly shows “dive plane” which is mounted on the square tube of Pic 1. The dive plane is used to make the vehicle go up or down. Pic 3 position of dive plane indicates vehicle is rising toward surface. Pic 3 also indicates the only “air tanks” are the one worn by the divers for breathing. The vehicle is battery powered as indicated in Pic 4.

      Like 6
    • Douglas Still

      Maybe it’s a one-time use vehicle? Dives and never resurfaces? Seriously though, there’s no ballast. Other than beaching it I don’t see how it can surface?

      Like 2
      • Al

        I think you are right Douglas!
        However that being said I think it should have mast about 8′ long with a shark fin mounted on top. This would be great around swimming holes.

        Like 10
  4. MattR Member

    What a find.

    Poking around, I found this nugget that may be related to this sub:

    “Beginning in 1961 with the first SPORTSMAN 300 and in 1963 with SPORTSMAN 600, both sometimes referred to as AMERSUB”s (15), the American Submarine Co. of Lorain, Ohio constructed shallow one- and
    two-man submersibles aimed at the recreational market (as their name implies) as well as government and other commercial activities. Various reports allude to 20 or more of this class having been constructed (16), but
    documentation is lacking.”

    http://scilib.ucsd.edu/sio/hist_oceanogr/busby-manned-submersibles34.pdf

    Like 13
    • angryjonny

      “The largest collection of Sportsman 300 Amersubs can be found today at the bottom of the Ohio River.”

      Like 46
      • Dave

        Well…Lorain is actually West of Cleveland on Lake Erie, but the rest is probably not too far off.

        Like 4
    • EVAN HARRIS

      I was very into diving in the 60’s…if you look up HEALTHWAYS submarine you will see this. They made 2 models as I recall…(I ran a scuba school at the Castaways in south Florida in the late 60’s)…one model is as you see in the pic where you wear your own tanks and the more expensive model had scuba tanks in the spot behind each cockpit so you didn’t need to wear them.

      Like 3
    • Johnny

      Just trying to read –understand and imagine being under water –with this article. Made me dizzy. I wouldn,t make a scientist. hahaha I wonder and imagine the fun a couple of people cold have with a operable thing like this. A person could have by making it look like some kind a water sea dragon and come up where a couple of guys would be fishing. On a foggy lake. hahahaha Be my luck they,d probably have some dynamite.hahahaha

      Like 3
    • David Taylor

      I read your article – at least the pix. BIG difference in those $M sumersibles and the DIYer one shown for sale.

      Like 2
  5. Howard A Member

    Oh, this will get the humor going. IDK, submersible, to me, means an enclosed vessel,,with air, I’d have to think, this thing would sink like a stone. And individual windscreens? For what? Look at the picture, them sitting there with all the diving gear ( that ain’t cheap either), I’d think, why bother? If there ever was more evidence that PT Barnum was right, here you go.

    Like 12
    • Dave

      For some reason I remember seeing these on the old Sea Hunt TV show.

      Like 7
    • Kenn

      Howard A, Why bother? Easier and faster than swimming. And frankly, lots of fun – something I’ve gathered from your many posts you don’t have a lot of, or interest in. ie: doing or having something just for the sheer fun of it is not in your wheelhouse.

      Like 1
  6. Jock Q Anchor

    What do you want on your tombstone?

    A great craft for lunch time feeding to sea creatures .

    I like this unit and hopefully aome harpoons it soon 👍

  7. Frank Sumatra

    I think having a “submersible” submarine is kind of the point isn’t it?

    Like 8
    • Lou Tripper

      Or you could opt for a non submersible vessel commonly refered to a boat.

      Like 14
    • jeffro

      I was thinking the same thing. Anything else would be a boat.

      Like 5
    • MIke

      That was the first thing that made me stop and re-read the info.
      That’s like saying 8 AM in the morning!

      Like 1
    • schooner

      A submersible is open, a submarine is self contained.

      Like 3
  8. JohnD

    I complain about the write ups here sometimes, so here is the other side of the coin .. . .”abjectly terrifying” and “safety regulations were a few steps behind the manufacturing phase” . .. . BEST BARN FINDS WRITE UP EVER!!!!

    Like 20
  9. Greg Y

    Time marches on…these were made here in Redding, Ca for a few years starting around 2011…they were cool and terribly expensive. Fun idea gone broke.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=602xB2yoUUw

    Like 8
    • Dlegeai

      great video, incredible machines, too bad they did not make it.

  10. Little_Cars

    Those clear acrylic cases for the battery look nothing like the “dry-wells” used today on kayaks. I can only imagine the technology required to make those seal perfectly so as not to get a shock between the legs upon one’s shallow descent.

    Like 4
  11. Chris

    IMHO, if done right this could be converted into a car! It would certainly be unique!!

    Like 8
  12. Chris

    Ha ha ha brought to you by the fine people @ Ronco & Crapco products. Not for me

    Like 2
  13. Russell

    Probably handles better than the Lotus Esprit from “The Spy Who Loved Me”

    Like 3
  14. Mitchell Gildea Member

    We need a head to head test between this submarine and 007’s submersible Lotus

    Like 5
  15. Scott Marquis

    Submersible submarine ? From the Department of Redundancy Department ?

    Like 6
  16. H_Vaughn

    Pretty sure they made these on the Jarts line.

    “How, exactly, does this thing work?”

    Farts.

    Like 2
  17. Mark

    I heard the max speed was restricted to 17.38 knots……………….

    ………because of the craft having to operate in a perpetual School Zone.

    I’m going to step aside and give myself a good talking to for that one.

    Like 6
  18. BRIAN FULOP

    I can think of better ways to die. :)

    Like 3
  19. G Lo

    A very good underwater scuba sled can be had for less than $1000, and in comparison would be the better buy in pretty much any category you care to compare. This thing would be a very cool restomod to a belly tank kind of car or a vintage style track car or something along those lines, and it would be a fun project and a lot of work. But no way on the 7.5k ask for this.

    Like 4
  20. Jim

    Pretty sure it was tethered to a boat and towed at a very slow speed. It would have a control for up/down left / right. The battery was possibly for a light.

    Like 1
  21. John

    I think we need a little research on the 196 G registration ?

  22. Jim Houghton

    These were pulled by a boat on the surface at very slow speeds. Or your mask would be torn off. The controls allowed left right up down and the battery was for lights. In 1963 I was a scuba diver and wanted one very badly. As a teenager it was totally out of my very limited price range. I think I saw it in a Scuba Diving magazine.

    Like 1
    • EVAN HARRIS

      jim…as a teen I was a diver..this one might be the one that was towed for propulsion..however,,as I said earlier in a post..look up Healthways submarines for the 2 models (with or without built in scuba tanks)..way cool

      • Jim houghton

        I did look them up. That looks really cool. Still too expensive .

  23. Bob USN retired

    Looks like a fun way to enjoy cruising around your neighborhood lake or pond. More sophisticated underwater vehicles are still manufactured today. They are known as SDV’s (Seal Delivery Vehicles). No they don’t deliver circus seals to your front door along with a pizza. Our U.S. Navy has used them for decades enabling covert delivery of U.S. Navy Seals. The first generation of SDV’s look very much like the image you provided. Teams still are outfitted with scuba gear when they go for a ride. Google Seal Delivery Vehicle if you want to learn more.

    Like 1
    • schooner

      https://stiddmil.com/ might help others get a better visual for what your saying about SEALs and other SOF transport. Signed; Civilian Subcontractor Worker Drone (Ret.) Sorry, had to go there Sir (or Chief).

  24. MKG

    Hey Didn’t I see Lioyd Bridges driving one of these in Sea Hunt, lol.

    Like 1
  25. Richard Van Dyke Sr

    I have done some really crazy things in my life but this falls into the ” Not only NO but H*LL NO” category

    Like 4
  26. PeterfromOz

    Being a 1963 submersible this is prior to the Bond Lotus. It is from Thunderball which had many submersibles in it.

  27. Chuck

    Hmmm …
    Something about this gives me a sinking feeling.

    Like 3
  28. Phlathead Phil

    Looks like something the professor would dream up from Gilligan’s Island.

    Oh, yeah, wouldn’t you like to go scuba diving with Ginger in this thing?

    Like 4
    • hatofpork

      Maryanne.

      Like 2
  29. David Kelm

    Heavy insulated cable going to back of craft indicates the battery powers a motor and prop at the stern. About the same size battery as used with a trolling motor on a fishing boat. Sure not a speed demon nor a long range
    cruiser.

  30. chrlsful

    we had a basic 1 in the ’70s, not sit in. 2 handles on the back – it towed U around under (or on) the water, scuba equp needed 4 ‘under’. Handy for savin energy ona long swim or far under water.

  31. KKW

    Submersible submarine. Sounds like a reflective reflector.

    • PeterfromOz

      KKW. I think you are correct about the conflict of terms. However, if you Google Submersible Boats you will find these are generally military boats that travelled just under the water surface to avoid line of sight detection. I presume they used a snorkel for air & exhaust. They were used in WW2 (and I think later) to restock submarines and other ships in the ocean.

  32. Frank

    Didn’t the Seaview have one on Voyage to the bottom of the Sea 😆

  33. JoeNYWF64

    Not to be used where there are sharks, gators, or crocs! lol

  34. Pete

    Ya’ll remember the WWII aircraft fuel tanks they would convert into racers? This looks like they took one of those tanks and made a fiberglass mold of it and then reversed the process to create these things. Pretty simple looking affair. I guess if you had a long way to go underwater this would keep you from getting as tired and using as much O2. I remember Yamaha had these underwater drones so to speak that you would hang onto and it would pull you through the water. Made for lazy swimmers. LOL.

  35. Brian

    The larger version, with sides, windows and a top- is parked off of Rt 7 in New Milford, Ct. It has a spot for the air tanks. 2 passenger. Ill have to look for a picture

  36. Patrick M Keenan

    It was a prize on. Bill Cullen THE PRICE IS RIGHT. PRICE. was 2500

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