Classic of the Month
The Amphicar 770 is milestone in the history of motoring. The first civilian amphibious vehicle, and the only one ever produced in any reasonable numbers, went into production in 1961, and will therefore be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021.
The German automotive engineer Hanns Trippel (1908-2001) already designed the first amphibious cars for use in the military area in the 1930s. In the late 1950s, he successfully managed to get the management of the German Quandt Group interested in producing an amphibious car for civilian use. In the autumn of 1961, the Quandt subsidiary Industrie-Werke Karlsruhe then started to produce the Amphicar in its factories in Lübeck-Schlutup and Berlin-Wittenau.
Bizarre body design and modest performance
With a four-cylinder 38bhp (28kW) engine from British car manufacturer Triumph Herald with a cubic capacity of just under 1200cc, the vehicle reached a top speed of 105km/h on land and 12km/h on water. Nevertheless, the four-seat convertible appealed to only a few buyers in Germany – even dropping its price from originally DM10,500 down to DM8,385 after it had been in production for only two years did not change this. The powerboating license necessary to be able to use it on German waterways also contributed to the slow uptake, along with the modest performance and the bizarre body design. Most of the 3,878 vehicles manufactured until 1968 ended up in the USA – where they still enjoy an iconic status.