Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Gibbs Aquada Works

        Auto | Unusual Cars

History of Amphibians
The 7th International Amphicar Owners Club Swim-In, Celina, OH
The 7th International Amphicar Owners Club Swim-In, Celina, OH

­The history of the amphibian parallels that of the automobile. Even as the automobile was in its infancy in the early twentieth century, people were already working on creating an amphibian. This a list of some of the more notable efforts to build one.*

  • Magrelen Amphibium (1899) - Possibly the first motorized attempt at an amphibian, the Amphibium was built in Denmark.
  • Trippel SG6 (1937) - Designed by Hannes Trippel, who designed several amphibious cars for Germany, the SG6 was produced for the German army. Trippel was also involved in the Amphicar, described below.
  • Hydromobile (1942) - Built in 1942 by a Hungarian engineer in the United States, it had a wooden hull and three retractable wheels.
  • Amphicar (1961-68) - Perhaps the most successful commercial amphibian, it is the only mass-produced amphibious automobile ever, with 3,878 built. The Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300. It could reach 70 mph (113 kph) on the road and 7 mph (11 kph) on water.
  • Renault Racoon (1993) - Developed by the French auto manufacturer, the Racoon was a concept car designed to go anywhere, including in the water. It was a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a V6 twin-turbo engine. Its top water speed was 5 knots (8 mph/13 kph).

*Sources: The International Amphicar Owners Club; History of amphibious cars

For more information on the Aquada and related topics, check out the links on the next page.


More to Explore