September 1, 2016
Amphicar takes to the water at MOTORWORLD Classics Berlin: Potomac Classics presents amphibious vehicle from the 1960s
Loriot’s character Müller Lüdenscheidt from the famous sketch “Herren im Bad” (“Men in the Bath”) would have had a lot of fun with the Amphicar. Visitors to MOTORWORLD Classics Berlin can certainly look forward to a treat, since the congenial amphibious car, which has its roots in Berlin, will be symbolically lowered into the water of the fountain at the Palais at the Berlin ExpoCenter. Yet another rarity worth seeing that will be on show at the classic car trade fair on 6-9 October 2016. The car is being provided by the Dutch company Potomac Classics, who are specialists in these fun vehicles, which today have a real collector’s value.
The Amphicar fits right into the MOTORWORLD Classics Berlin concept in two ways: Not only is it a rarity from the good old days, but it is also originally from Berlin. The vehicle was developed by the designer Hans Trippel, who had it mainly built in the Wittenau district of Berlin at the Deutsche Waggon – und Maschinenfabrik from 1960 to 1963. It was the first amphibious car to be manufactured in series production for civilian use, and was sold from 1962 for the proud sum of 10,500 Deutschmarks. In terms of today’s purchasing power, that would be almost 23,000 euros. Back then, even a Porsche 356 wasn’t far off this price class. A total of 3,878 vehicles left the production line, of which over 3,000 were shipped to the United States.
Good for a presidential joke
A nice anecdote from overseas suggests that owners of the Amphicar weren’t so much interested in the vehicle’s reliability and practicality, as in the fun factor. So the story goes, famous owner President Lyndon B. Johnson used to scare his guests by faking a brake failure and storming into the lake in front of his house.
An American dream is dashed
The American dream of 25,000 sold units burst faster than the amphibious vehicle’s top speed – which after all was 110 km/h on land, and 12 km/h in the water. A small 1.2 litre engine, cramped cabin space, a mediocre suspension, and dubious manoeuvrability in the water, are just a few of the limitations of this hybrid. Consequently, the envisaged distribution system through commercial outlets in U.S. supermarkets did not even get off the ground. Sales were slow in Europe as well, which meant that new cars were still being offered three years after production was halted in 1964. Today, however, the personable amphibious car is a true collector’s item.
More information about the Amphicar: