1961-1968 Amphicar

1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 Amphicar Origins

Hans Trippel, inventor of the Amphicar, pioneered land/water vehicles long before the famous Schwimmwagen that arrived during World War II. In 1932 Trippel actually began manufacturing one under his own name at a small factory in the Saarland.

Like the Porsche design, the early Trippel employed four-wheel drive but used conventional inline engines -- an Adler four or an Opel six -- instead of a flat-opposed unit.

1962 Amphicar
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Note the high ground clearance and the marine running light and docking fixture on the front hood of this pristine 1962 Amphicar.

When Germany occupied the Rhineland and the Molsheim region of France, it seized the factory of the famed Bugatti concern, and Trippel soon began turning out amphibians there for the German army. After the war he set up shop in Germany, where he built small land-only cars powered by 498cc engines.

About the time Trippel was working on his eventual Amphicar design, Saab in Sweden briefly considered an amphibian of its own. Interestingly, the idea popped up during the early stages of the development program for the Sonett sports car of the late Sixties.

Designer Björn Karlstrum produced a series of studies for a small doorless runabout called the Skogmatros ("Forest Sailor"), which was deemed potentially saleable to the Finnish Army for its cross-country excursions in that rugged land of lakes and forests.

Built on an 83.4-inch wheelbase, the Skogmatros echoed the Schwimmwagen in its high, pointed front, free-standing "frogeye" headlamps, and narrow track, but it looked more like the dune buggies of a later era in its pert, open bodywork featuring a rear-facing two-passenger back seat separate from the main cockpit.

How well it might have sold on the civilian market is anybody's guess, for nothing came of the idea beyond Karlstrum's studies. This left the Amphicar -- if you'll pardon the pun -- to make quite a splash at its 1959 introduction.

It took about two years to get production going, initially at Lübeck, West Germany, near the North Sea and close to the East German border. Operations were soon transferred to Karlsruhe in the Rhineland, where they continued until the last Amphicar was built in 1968. Design changes were minimal over the entire run.

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