BY JAMES CAMPBELL
What do you get if you combine my love of the sea and diving with my passion for cars? Amphibious cars and underwater cars.
Bear with me. I am not barking mad. Nowadays there are some genuinely decent vehicles in the class.
Arguably the first proper car that could go from driving on the road, to ‘driving’ in the water, was the Amphicar, a German built car, which was manufactured from 1961 until 1965 and around 4000 were sold. It was a kind of floating Robin Reliant. I am not convinced.
After the Amphicar there were some sleeker designs, the best of them being the Gibbs Aquada, below, which looks a bit like an MX5.
Built around 2005, it was designed in New Zealand and was more recently produced in the UK. Capable of speeds of around 100mph on land and 30mph on water, the Aquada was designed and built from the ground up and had an impressive 60 patents within the original build. It holds the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle.
The Gibbs Humdinga, a military vehicle launched in 2012, is also worth a ganders. I like the Hummer style looks and angry lines. Enough to scare away a surfer if not a Great White Shark.
If you are looking for something that is less of a freak show, then there’s always the uber-cool Quadski, below. (If you are reading, my darling and beautiful, sweet wife, I really really want one and I promise I’ll build that extension you keep talking about…..after I’ve got one in the garage).
Next, what all James Bond fans will want for Christmas, the world’s first fully submersible vehicle that is driven on the road as well, although you’d not have to open the doors to let the fish out before driving off, a la Roger Moore, as it doesn’t seem to have a roof. The Rinspeed Squba is the latest car to go on the water, but pretty much the first to go underwater:
Based around the Lotus Elise, the Squba is electric-powered, with one motor for driving on land and two further motors for driving underwater, with further side jets to provide manoeuvrability. It has zero emissions too, something that ‘Q’ could certainly not achieve back in 1977. Drive into the water from land and it will float and drive along on the surface, but at the flick of a switch, it will submerge and start ‘flying’ underwater, to a maximum depth of 10m. And, since you are underwater, there are no pedestrians staring or pointing at you, which is surely a major bonus
Then there’s the world’s fastest amphibious car. – The Sealion. With speeds of 180mph on land and 60mph on the water, it’s no slouch and has been built to compete in the Amphibious World Speed competition. Although I’m not sure that I’d feel so confident driving a car that costs a quarter of a million pounds into the water.
The other ‘world’s fastest amphibious vehicle, the Watercar, looks the business too. The sort of floating Jeep you could smoke a Boss Hog cigar in or drive your overweight friend around in without getting worried you’re going to sink.
Is there ever going to be a huge market for amphibious and underwater cars?
No, this seems most unlikely.
Nonetheless, you only live once. A giggle to have a go in one all the same.