David Richards’ Prodrive engineering company is developing an amphibious car that could make production.
The idea is inspired by the Watercar Panther, a US-developed amphibious car. Richards bought a Panther for his own use and has since made modifications to it. While Richards originally intended to carry his adapted design through to production, he now wants to create his own amphibious car inspired by the Panther.
He said: “I went to see one in Los Angeles and was pleasantly surprised with the quality, so I bought one with the intention of importing some into Europe. But there’s lots of legislation, and it’s tricky for the EU with emissions and crash testing. Even single type approval had some insurmountable problems.
“Now I’m inclined to do our own. We know about them, and I have some young engineers working on it – we’re all excited by it. I have a boat engineer looking at the hull.”
The brief, says Richards, is to create a car that can be driven on the road with sufficient ground clearance and be able to travel at speeds of up to 30 knots on water.
It would be priced around £150,000, and Richards has his eyes on a diesel engine to power it. “It needs torque, so a good torquey turbodiesel is needed,” he added.
Richards said that much like flying cars that are neither ideal cars nor ideal planes, amphibious cars can be “neither a great car nor a great boat”.
He explained: “Make it too short and you have a bad boat, too long and you have a bad car. That’s inevitably the case, so you err towards making it a better boat, but you can still make it a better car.”
Richards has tested his Panther extensively over road, beach and water. He has even used it for waterskiing, but found it not to be suited to choppy waters.
“You drive it from the road to the beach, then into the water. Press some buttons and you have a boat,” he said.