Rides in our amphibious car are a favorite activity for guests at Ludlow’s Island, but not everyone knows the history of our unique vehicle.
The amphicar descended from military amphibious craft; a total of 3,878 amphicars were built in West Germany and shipped to the United States during the 1960s, and they are still the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile to ever have been produced.
All amphicars are convertibles and the civilian models were originally offered in only four colors: beach white, regatta red, lagoon blue, and fjord green. Our beach white car received a total restoration in 2017 for its 50th birthday, and we opted to stay with the classic white color.
The amphicar has a top speed of 7 miles per hour in water and 70 miles per hour on land. Because of these speeds, the amphicar has been dubbed the “Model 770.” Amphicars have special two-part land and water transmissions built by Hermes, which allow the wheels and propellers to operate either independently or simultaneously. Our car is rarely driven on land, but each Labor Day Weekend it does make the twenty-mile roundtrip to the Antique and Wooden Boat Show on the west end of the lake. It’s quite a sight!
When new, the amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the model year. No 1968 models were directly imported into the United States because of EPA and DOT regulations that went into effect that year. This caused a major financial disaster for the Amphicar Corporation as the U.S. represented about ninety percent of all amphicar sales. The amphicar factor in Berlin, Germany closed in 1968.
As the “perfect” vacation vehicle, the amphicar found fame at beach resorts, island towns, and in a popular Pepsi commercial. They’re also featured at the Boathouse restaurant at Disney Springs in Orlando.
While a tour in their amphibious vehicles runs around $125 dollars, Ludlow’s guests can take a ride in our car as a part of the weekly activities program, included with your stay!