It was a natural progression for me, or at least that is what I tell myself. The love I have of all things
automotive and that same love for all things marine at some point had to converge. How do you blend those two passions? In an Amphicar of course! "The car that swims." The image above shows an old picture of an Amphicar out for what could be a nice drive or a nice boat ride... how cool is that. I'll spare you the history lesson on the Amphicar as it is already well documented on the web. If you are curious about the why, how, when and production figures of the Amphicar check out these web sites:
They have tons of information and links that can educate you on all things Amphicar
My personal attraction to these admittedly odd looking vehicles started when I was a teenager. Summer days of my youth in Maine were spent either on the lake or on the ocean. I can still recall the first time I saw an Amphicar. I was water skiing on the local lake with some friends and to our surprise we saw a car heading down the boat ramp and into the water! A few seconds later a whoosh of white water appeared out the back of this car and it drove off like a boat! It was one of those moments where any teenage boy would have said, "I have got to get one of those" and I was no different. Everyone I talk to about Amphicars has that same sort of story about seeing one hit the water for the first time. It turned out that a couple who lived on a small island in our local lake had two Amphicars, one red and one green. One was his and one was hers and this is how they got back and forth to the island house. The Amphicars were around for a number of summers and we always watched them with great delight, but then they vanished.
Over the years I have always still wanted an Amphicar but there were other projects that took priority, like restoring my antique farm house, starting a business and other trivial things like that... you know... life. Here we are decades later and some of the projects that just had to be done are now complete and the Amphicar has returned to my thoughts, so the hunt began for an Amphicar. I looked at a few,
but everything in my price range looked something like what you see above. I'm all for a project but the prices that people wanted for what was basically rusted junk was nuts. Sure, due to the limited production a rusted out Amphicar may be worth big bucks, but I guess it depends on if you want to pay it or not... and I didn't... I couldn't. I also couldn't plunk down the upwards of $50K for a really nicely done Amphicar either, so if it was going to happen it was going to be a project, now it was time to find the "right" project. Parts support for the Amphicar is surprisingly good thanks to some suppliers that make reproduction parts and a place out in CA called Gordon's Imports that basically bought out all the NOS parts and still can get you just about anything you want today, so a project would not be that bad. I've told myself that before, but what the hell. I just turned 40. I didn't buy a Porsche and I didn't get a younger wife so if an Amphicar is my sickness so be it.
After months of wading through the rusted cars and even some "restored" ones that looked like crap, I happened upon a collector that had an Amphicar that was completely apart, but that was nearly complete and wasn't a rusty basket case. This gentleman had numerous Amphicars so it was obvious he knew what he was looking at and what a good donor car would be. After a few conversations I bought the project. I was really lucky because the car wasn't really for sale, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was also lucky that I competed my deal before Barrett-Jackson sold an Amphiar for $124,000. in January 2006. That one sale seemed to jump Amphicar prices overnight and now the rusted junk is even more costly.
Old, out of service and apart, but complete and not rusted out. Short of having $50K in my pocket this was going to be the best it could be, and I rather build the car anyway.
Anyone can plunk down the cash and buy one done up. Only a few people can take one and make it good again. The image above shows the car before it was taken part.
The story goes that it was originally from Maine so who knows it may even be the car I saw when I was a teenager. OK, so that likely isn't true but it makes for a good story, and I'll check the VIN with the state later on to see if its true or not.
The car was taken apart by an auto restorer that never got around to doing the project. It was stripped and then sent out and chemically dipped to remove all the rust and old paint and then primer was applied to keep the steel in shape. This image shows the rear section of the car now.
This shot shows the wheel well. I've seen a lot of rust in my day restoring vintage Land Rovers and the thought of not having to battle pounds and pounds of rust on this project makes for a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
It is already stripped and ready for some metal work and then paint and body. I can't wait.
That is where we are as of this moment. The car is purchased, but sadly it is still in a storage area outside Chicago and I am in Maine. I'll have to fix that. Maine to Chicago in February... what a treat! I'm taking vacation time for this? This is a sickness.
While I am on the road I'll be headed out to Mid-West Amphicar to pick up some new quarter panels and to meet Dave the Wave.
Click the link below to see the trip.
Warren to Chicago: Collecting the "prize"
Amphicar Restoration 1
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