Arizona

Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa
19 - 20 January 2017
Lot 166

1966 Amphicar 770

Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection

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$73,700 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona

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Chassis No.
106 523 027
  • Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection
  • The only commercially successful “car that swims”
  • Beautiful, well-maintained, and authentic restoration
  • Extensive history file of documentation and manuals
  • Always the crowd favorite in any collection or museum
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43 bhp, 1,147 cc Triumph OHV inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, coil-spring independent trailing-arm front and rear suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 82.7 in.

Developed over a period of 15 years at a cost of $25 million, the Amphicar was debuted at the 1961 New York Auto Show, as the first fully amphibious vehicle sold to the public. Resembling a combination of 1957 Thunderbird and Glasspar ski boat, it was motivated by a rear-mounted four-cylinder engine, borrowed from the Triumph Herald and driving the rear wheels. On land, it drove like any other small European automobile of its day.

Upon reaching a boat ramp, the doors’ special watertight seals were locked into place, a bilge plug was installed, the front luggage lid was locked, and the car was driven—slowly—into the water. A lever then directed the engine’s power to dual rear propellers, and off the Amphicar went. The “captain” would steer his craft using the front wheels, which served as rudders. Putting the car into reverse in the water would spin the propellers in reverse, serving as a brake, much as on conventional boats. For returning to shore, both the rear-wheel drive and the propeller drive could be operated at the same time.

About 3,878 Amphicars were built between 1961 and 1968. The majority, as planned, were exported to the United States, where they sold for $3,395, a price comparable to the Austin-Healey, to buyers that included President Lyndon Johnson. Surviving Amphicars are restored and enjoyed by enthusiastic owners’ clubs worldwide.

The car offered here was owned as early as 1972 by Sidney Armistead of Anchorage, Alaska, who obviously loved his Amphicar; he retained ownership of it until 2004, and along the way accumulated an exhaustive collection of materials devoted to keeping it running. In 2004 the car passed to another Alaskan owner, then, shortly thereafter, to Eugene “Gino” Francavilla of Jupiter, Florida. In Mr. Francavilla’s ownership the Amphicar was painstakingly restored to its present condition, in the attractive factory color of Lagoon Blue. Correct parts for the authentic restoration were sourced from several Amphicar experts. The restoration was judged Most Unique at the Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance in 2009, and it won Best Amphicar at the Classic Boat Show in Mount Dora, Florida.

Close inspection of the Amphicar shows that the body is very solid and in excellent overall condition, especially underneath, which is extremely clean. The interior is virtually new, showing little use, appropriate to the 12,200 miles recorded at the time of cataloguing. It is accompanied by receipts relating to the restoration, a CD of photographs, and a large collection of information that will help keep the Amphicar on the road and afloat, including an owner’s manual, maintenance and repair manuals, and repair diagrams for the bilge pump.

One of the nicest Amphicars to recently come to market, this car is perhaps the most fun for the money to be found. It is a surefire crowd-pleaser, from Lake Havasu to Bay Harbor!