It’s a car. It’s a boat. Actually, it’s both. Developed in West Germany, the Amphicar was aimed squarely at America’s leisure market and debuted at the 1961 New York Auto Show. As the culmination of a 15-year, $25 million development program, the Amphicar was the creation of amphibious-vehicle pioneer Hans Trippel.
A mid-rear-mounted Triumph Herald 4-cylinder engine was mated to a German Hermes transmission, which directed power to the rear wheels on land and, once on water, to twin propellers at the rear. The front wheels provided directional control both on land and water, the doors had special watertight seals, and the front compartment contained the fuel tank, spare tire and tools.
Amphicar marketing highlighted the vehicle’s ease of operation, and its unofficial “770” designation referred to its factory-claimed top speeds of seven knots on water and 70 mph on land. It is generally agreed that 3,878 were built through 1967, with the majority exported to the United States until the onset of the first wave of federally mandated safety and emissions regulations for 1968.
The 1965 Amphicar 770 offered here was the subject of a nut-and-bolt rotisserie restoration by noted Amphicar restoration specialist Roger Sallee. Fewer than 900 miles have been driven since then, and the vehicle is said to remain in excellent condition. With perhaps the most festive and sought-after color combination of Fjord Green with an Apricot interior, this Amphicar is certainly eye-catching, whether in use or parked in a garage or boathouse.