The Amphicar Model 770 is an amphibious automobile, launched at the 1961 New York Auto Show.
Manufactured in West Germany, marketed from 1961 to 1968 and production stopped in 1965.
Designed by Hans Trippel, the amphibious vehicle was manufactured by the Quandt Group at Lübeck and at Berlin-Borsigwalde, with a total of 3,878 being built.
A descendant of the Volkswagen Schwimmwagen, the Amphicar offered only modest performance compared to most contemporary boats or cars, it also featured navigation lights and flag as mandated by the Coast Guard.
The power plant was the 1147 cc engine from the British Triumph Herald 1200.
Many engines were tried in prototypes, but the Triumph engine was “state of the art” in 1961 and it had the necessary combination of performance, weight, cool running, and reliability.
Updated versions of this engine remained in production in the Triumph Spitfire until 1980.
The Amphicar engine had a power output of 43 hp (32 kW) at 4750 rpm, slightly more than the Triumph Herald due to a shorter exhaust.
Designated the “Model 770”, the Amphicar could achieve speeds of 7 knots in the water and 70 mph on land.
Later versions of the engine displaced 1296 cc and 1493 cc and produced up to 75 bhp (56 kW). Some Amphicar owners have fitted these engines to improve performance.
One owner was quoted “It’s not a good car and it’s not a good boat, but it does just fine” largely because of modest performance in and out of water. Another added, “We like to think of it as the fastest car on the water and fastest boat on the road.”
In water as well as on land, the Amphicar steered with the front wheels, making it less maneuverable than a conventional boat.
Time’s Dan Neil called it “a vehicle that promised to revolutionize drowning”, explaining, “Its flotation was entirely dependent on whether the bilge pump could keep up with the leakage.” In reality, a well maintained Amphicar does not leak at all and can be left in water, parked at a dock side, for multiple hours.
Production started in late 1960 and by the end of 1963 production was stopped.
From 1963-65 cars were assembled from shells and parts inventory built up in anticipation of sales of 25,000 units, with the last new build units assembled in 1965. Cars were titled in the year they actually sold rather than when they were produced, e.g. an unsold Amphicar assembled in 1963 or 1965 could be titled as 1967 or 1968 if that was when it was first sold, though the inventory could not be sold in the U.S. in the 1968 model year or later due to new EPA and USDOT emissions and safety equipment standards, they were available in other countries into 1968.
The remaining inventory of unused parts was eventually purchased by Hugh Gordon of Santa Fe Springs, California. Most Amphicar’s were sold in the United States. Cars were sold in the United Kingdom from 1964. Total production was 3,878 vehicles. 99 right-hand drives were converted from left-hand drives. Some were used in the Berlin police department and others were fitted for rescue operations.
On sale today:
Our 1965 Amphicar 770
A stalled home restoration and freshly painted red was discovered by Bridge Classic Cars when we actually bought another car from the previous owner.
Never wanting to shy away on a challenging project we decided to purchase her and basically to start again.
After removing pounds of filler and putting the car back to bare metal, we have rebuilt the body, letting in new metal and respraying her in the correct original white with red wheels.
The car will now be finished as a concours restoration with the necessary modifications to allow registration for use on the British waterways.
The car actually has to be registered as a boat and as a car, nothing is ever easy.
Everything will either be bought brand new or refurbished to as new.
This lovely piece of automotive history is now looking for a new owner and completion is estimated for summer 2019.
You won’t find another for sale in this condition, better than money in the bank, prices rising faster than gold and it will be better than when it left the factory all those years ago.
The restoration can also be followed on our website in the projects section.
Viewing by appointment only. Finance can be arranged by a third party. Office hours are Monday to Friday (Saturdays and Sundays can be arranged) 8am to 5pm. To arrange a viewing please call Craig on 01473 742038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org