When a car can drive straight from the shore into the water and then back on land again, the term “all-terrain” takes on a new meaning. The concept of amphibious vehicles is nothing new, however — according to Mental Floss, these land-water crafts date back as early as 1805, when an inventor from Philadelphia constructed the Orukter Amphibolos, or “amphibious digger.” In World War II, the British, German and American forces used amphibious vehicles to transport troops and weapons and in 1961, the Amphicar made headlines.
While these aquatic cars have been around for a while, manufacturers have just recently started producing these vehicles for the consumer market. Many travelers and outdoor enthusiasts are taking to the water in a different way by using amphibious vehicles.
While it looks more like an ATV or dune buggy than a car, Hydratek manufactures rugged off-road vehicles that are fully amphibious. These versatile vehicles can be used for back-road exploring, construction, agriculture and many other work or play uses on land or in the water. These tank-like crafts are also fuel-efficient and low-emission, so the environmental impact is minimal. This sturdy vehicle is useful, but don’t count on it to replace your car or boat. Its maximum speed on land is 15 mph and 4 mph in the water.
The Hydro Gator was developed by the company Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International, or CAMI, and is marketed as a more affordable land-aquatic vehicle for everyday use. A little larger than a golf cart, the body of the Hydro Gator has the shape of a boat, but the wheels of an all-terrain vehicle. According to CAMI, this car has 4×4 capabilities and is ideal for campers, golfers, hunters or any other outdoor enthusiast. While $60,000 is still nothing to sneeze at, it is still much less than some of the larger amphibious vehicles.
DUKW – ‘The Duck’
During World War II, the U.S. Military’s answer to British and German amphibious vehicles was the DUKW, nicknamed “the Duck.” After the war, most of these vehicles were disbanded, but they have resurfaced over the years not only as privately owned vehicles but as popular tour guides. Today, “Duck Tours” can be found in waterfront cities around the world including Boston, London, Vancouver and Seattle, according to the Dish Network blog. Visiting travelers can get a unique perspective of cities from the land and sea, plus a history lesson while they are at it. If you’d rather take your own private duck tour, you can often find old DUKWs for sale that have been restored.
Terra Wind Amphibious Motor Home
If you want an amphibious vehicle that combines the comforts of home and off-road performance, look no further than the Terra Wind Amphibious Motor Home. This vehicle not only transitions smoothly from the land to water, it is also a top-of-the-line luxury motor home with all the amenities. The price may be steep, around $1.2 million, but the vehicle is fully customizable and capable of taking to the freeway at up to 80 mph.
If speed, style and flash is your cup of tea, the Gibbs Aquada is right up your alley. According to Wonderful Engineering, this stylish amphibian set the record for crossing the English Channel in less than two hours, captained by Richard Branson. With the sleek look of a sports car convertible and a powerful V6 engine, the Aquada can get up to 100 mph on land and 30 mph on the water.