Ride and sail: the strangest and most successful attempts to create a “boat car”

Fortunately, the samovarsteamlocomotiveflying fly exists only in the imagination of children’s writers. But to combine the incompatible, to harness, so to speak, a horse and a quivering doe in one harness, the creators of selfpropelled wheeled transport have tried from the very moment of its invention. It would seem, what does James Bond and Elon Musk have to do with it?

The Fiat 1110 Boat Car, a boat on wheels - Italian Ways

It is difficult to say why some automakers are so excited by the idea of  the possibility of going along the path of evolution in the opposite directionto return from land to sea, and to do it in the literal sense without getting off the chair. There are a great many quite workable projects of amphibious cars, and the initiators of mass use here, as usual, were the militaryremember at least the same Schwimmwagen, created with the participation of Ferdinand Porsche. But the dream of conquering the two elements at once sometimes took possession of quite civilian designers, who were concerned not at all about the speedy crossing of water obstacles by platoon and port, but only about the most exotic entertainment. Well, or about fishing right from the wheel.

The Amphibious Dobbertin HydroCar - A $1 Million Dollar 762 HP Boat/Car Hybrid

Of course, amphibians were built in the Soviet Union. Mostly by order of the defense department, but among the projects of huge transporters and floating tanks there were also those that could make a splash among the then collective farmers, if they appeared on the free market. Even VAZ dreamed of creating a water car, building several prototypes (of course, based on the Niva), and one of the last Soviet projects was the Jaguar, created in Ulyanovsk on the basis of the famous UAZ469.

УАЗ-469 — Википедия

It differed from the donor with its own allwheel drive system, a unique boat body and amazing survivability. It was rumored that the experimenters, desperate to get the Jaguar’s flaws, made frank efforts to drown him in Mother Volgaand did not succeed. The poor fellow, however, gulped gasoline in three throats and was depressingly slowmoving, but by the mid80s he still gained recognition in responsible circles. Guess what got in the way of the Jaguar?

Jaguar F-Pace 300 Sport 2019 UK review | Autocar

In the West, by that time, they were already applauding James Bond, the great 007 agent and the daring test of spy gadgets created by the gloomy genius Q. One of such devices was the amphibian. To create the image of a waterfowl car, the film crew of the movieThe Spy Who Loved Meused a really spectacular supercar Lotus Esprit, and in several copies at once for different shooting plans. According to rumors, at least one movie amphibian really knew how to swim. And, perhaps, it was she who was sold a few years later at auction for an impressive amount of $ 989,000, but we will return to this deal later.

The image of the James Bond submarine, over which another image hovered as an invisible shadowthe great Colin Chapman, was so deeply imprinted in the childhood memory of future freak designers from the Swiss studio Rinspeed that one day they took another Lotus (this time Elise) and built on its basis a real submarine. It happened in 2008, three decades after James.

Lotus Esprit from James Bond Film The Spy Who Loved Me. | Bond cars, Lotus esprit, James bond

Rinspeed sQuba really knew how to drive on the roads (though not faster than 120 km / h) and move under water. The last operation was carried out by means of screws and waterjet propellers with an electric drive implanted into the structure. The prototype had only one small drawbackthe lack of a roof, and therefore, when diving, the driver and passenger had to connect to the onboard oxygen tanks.

Interestingly, a few years earlier, Rinspeed built another amphibian, this time called Splash, and landed with it straight into the Guinness Book of Records.

The fact is that Splash, although it was not capable of diving, was rushing along the surface of the water at an enviable pace. The open car was equipped, as they would say now, with elements of active aerodynamicsa wing and sills with servos, which in the wet element turned into hydrofoils. It was thanks to them that Splash once crossed the English Channel in just three hours, which was recognized as the official record (albeit among boats).

Chevrolet Corvette — Википедия

Very soon, the unofficial leader of this extravagant industry was the American company Watercar, which by 2010 had built three prototypes of amphibians with a 450horsepower engine from the Chevrolet Corvette (by the way, the legendary supercar will survive a real technical revolution in a matter of weeks). And three years later, the Americans presented a commercial projectan amphibian named Panther, very similar to the Jeep Wrangler stylized boat. She also swims very nimbly, but not due to the power of the motor, but due to the effect of planing. A jeep with boat functionality? $ 140,000and it’s yours.

In general, amphibians are invented according to one of two concepts: either wheels are attached to the boat, or the car is taught to swim. The famous designer Brooks Stevens tried to combine both approaches back in the 70s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.