Part Car, Part Boat: 1964 Amphicar

The Amphicar 770 was an interesting novelty vehicle from the 1960s. Built in West Germany, it was part car and part boat, so it functioned on both land and water. A quirky vehicle, owners were quoted as saying things like “we like to think of it as the fastest car on the water and fastest boat on the road.” A 1964 model, the seller’s Amphicar was running when a restoration was started many years ago, but the effort stalled, and the car has been garaged-kept ever since. Located in Vinton, Virginia, and available here on eBay, the vehicle is waiting for someone to finish the job. The highest bid so far is $25,300 (no reserve).

Production of these amphibious cars began and 1961 and concluded in 1965, although some editions have been registered as late as 1968. Just 3,878 of the Amphicars were built before production ended, with all but 99 of them being sent to the U.S. A descendant of the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen, the Amphicar featured navigation lights and a flag as mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Constructed in “mild” steel, the front undersurface is slightly pointed and then sharply cutaway below to perform in the water. The wheels are set low so that the vehicle stands about ground level on dry land. They are powered by a Triumph 1147cc 4-cylinder engine that was rated at under 40 hp and provided water propulsion by twin propellers mounted under the rear bumper.

The seller has owned this car for nearly 40 years and he had it running for a time back in the day. He decided that a restoration was in order and had all the bodywork and paint done before life got in the way to do the rest. It’s been sitting idle in his garage since the 1990s. We’re told the body was sound and the only panel that was replaced was the section under the battery. Most of these things rusted from the bottom up because of their time in the water (that was not the case here). Some of the new parts included front and rear bumpers and navigation lights, and the seats were redone in the original factory pattern.

At one time, the engine ran great and is not locked up now from sitting. It’s not bolted in as the seller figured the next owner would want to refresh the motor’s innards. The transmission is said to have shifted smoothly and a new clutch assembly is present. A separate tranny drives the propellers and we’re told it also works, though the car was never in the water while the seller has had it. Mileage on the overall vehicle is under 46,000, but the odometer reads zero because it and other gauges are new. While the convertible top frame is there, the buyer will have to have it recovered.

We’re told parts for these vehicles are not hard to come by but may cost you an arm and a leg. Of the nearly 4,000 assembled, the seller believes fewer than 10% have survived, so the overall population worldwide might not exceed 400 units. Hagerty estimates one of these cars in top form can tip the scales at $100,000, and Fair Condition is under $30,000. If you want to get a feel of how one of these things does in the water, you can take a ride at Disneyworld in Florida: they have five restored units giving off-land tours.

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Comments

  1. Ralph

    What? Is the seller insane/on drugs? This is another example of “I have something rare, and I want ALL the money in the world for it.” Bite me.

    Like 4
    • Mike

      How can the seller be insane if the auction is no reserve? He get what he gets.

      Like 26
    • flmikey

      Hey, it’s a no reserve auction, so it is the buyers that have driven up the price, now at 25K….

      Like 19
  2. Terrry

    The motor probably was under water at some time. And the buyer will be too unless he’s a real fan of these.

    Like 7
  3. Walter Joy

    What’s fun is you can ride in them at Disney Springs in Orlando Florida. They have I think 6 cars. They’re decent 20 footers, as you can see rust bubbles up close, and they’re SLOW, but it’s awesome to ride in

    Like 6
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Someone near where I grew up had one. IMO it didn’t perform well as either a car or a boat though it was novel to watch it go into or come out of the water.

    Like 4
  5. Madbrit

    No, it’s not a Metropolitan…… lol.

    Like 3
  6. GuernseyPagoda Member

    Is it a boat that drives, or is it a car that floats?😂

    Like 6
    • Jules Member

      There is a famous quip about the Amphicar: “A terrible car and a terrible boat and a heck of a lot of fun.”

      Like 13
  7. Melton Mooney

    This is where I say that I have been in an amphicar, on the water. Sorry, just don’t get many opportunities to brag about that.

    Like 12
  8. Bob Washburne

    Does the tortoiseshell cat come with it?

    Like 2
  9. angliagt angliagt Member

    Jules,

    There was an Amphicar owner in the Arcane Auto Society
    in San Francisco who said –
    “It’s a terrible car,& a terrible boat – it’s does both things
    equally well”.

    This isn’t too far from me,but I think I’ll
    restrain my enthusiasm,& not go look at it.

    Like 5
  10. Smokey Member

    LBJ had one of these on his Texas ranch on the banks of the Perdenales river. He loved scaring the hell out of visiting dignitaries by taking them for a ride on the river banks and the suddenly making a sharp turn and head for the river and driving in the water at high speed. Great hilarity for LBJ but not appreciated by his guests, as if he could care! Then back to his ranch house for a bourbon and branch. That was “good ole” LBJ, God bless ’em.

    Like 7
  11. That Guy

    I’m lucky enough to have been a passenger in a couple of these. It is such a blast driving down the launch ramp, splooshing into the water, puttering around for a while, then boating back to the ramp and driving right up. Sure, they’re nothing special as either a boat or a car, but they are their own class of hilarious fun.

    This one seems very solid and a straightforward project. The lack of rust alone makes it well worth the current price, and it will undoubtedly go higher.

    Like 5
  12. CraigR

    Couple of years ago I was driving in Southern NH and was behind a flat bed truck with two of these things on it. Always wondered where they were headed.

    Like 2
    • Brian M Member

      About ten years ago I bought a Morris Minor from a fellow in southern NH who had 40 of these stashed on his property, which is more than 1% of the total production. Several rann, some were junk but most were restorable. The latest issue of Old Cars Report price guide gives a parts car a value of $3600 and a concours one $90,000. The ones you saw could have been going to or from his property. Around 1962, one of my neighbors, who lived on the lake, had one but the town didn’t want him to put it in the water as it was the public water supply. No matter that the lake was filled with oily two-stroke outboards leaving a sheen everywhere. The 770 came from 7 mph in the water, 70 mph on land, although that last figure seems a tad scary. My Triumph Herald, awaiting restoration, shares the engine with these.

  13. Howard A Member

    I have news for you, if someone put 46K LAND miles on this, they were brave souls. There are several vehicles throughout history, that always hit a nerve. The Amphicar is one of those. Anyone that’s spent any time on the water, knows what poor boats they are. If only they were fiberglass. As far as a car, it wasn’t much different than most small European cars at the time. It, to me, always looked like a Renault Caravelle that goes in the water.I see a lot of videos where people aren’t wearing life jackets riding in these. A disclaimer that should be mentioned, is don’t take it out unless a “light chop”. These sit low in the water, and can be “swamped” pretty easy, catching the occupants off guard, and will sink like a stone. Novelty wise? Through the roof, $25G’s? Like this? You know where I stand on that,,,

    Like 3
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    There is a following for these vehicles. There’s even a club, where the owners meet, swap parts, and tell stories. These people like fun and for the most part are a cheerful bunch. There’s always a group of fans for every make and model. Not my cup of tea, but I respect their love for their cars. They’re the ones that keep the prices high, because they like it that way.
    I’m currently restoring a mini truck, that’s my thing for now, might change later, but whatever floats your boat, or car have fun.
    God bless America

    Like 3
  15. Howie Mueler

    Yes these are very cool, no air cleaner?

    Like 3
  16. Frank

    Anything that floats is a money pit. The happiest days for a boater are the day they buy and the day they sell usually at a lost.

    Like 2
  17. Gerard Frederick

    The designer was a certain Herr Tripp, or Trippel who spent several years in French prison as a ¨war criminal¨. His crime had consisted of designing river- going craft for the Wehrmacht. When the French released him they did so with the proviso that he never design another amphibious car. Well, in THAT they may have been correct since in my voluminous reading, I have never read a single positive thing about these, excepting of course the fun factor. He also desgned a number of Micro cars in the 1950´s.

    Like 1
  18. Paul S.

    I was driving behind one several years ago and was able to take a picture of it. In Pemberton, NJ.

    Like 1
  19. MKG

    Scariest thing I’ve ever been in!

    Like 1
  20. Gary Raymond Member

    Maybe Leno needs another one…

  21. Andy B

    Years ago, someone in my neighborhood had one of these, because I would see him during around the neighborhood. Once, he even made the front page of the local paper.

    Fast forward, the other day I thought I saw one on my way to work. Today I drove past real slow, and yup, there’s a white one parked in front of a barn!

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