The Ultimate Land and Sea Vehicle
There have been a lot of all-terrain vehicles over the years, but most of them are more suited to crossing rough landscapes and smaller creeks and bodies of water. There have been a few cars that have attempted to be as adept at picking up your groceries as they are at taking some friends out on the lake for a quick fishing trip, but none ever really seemed to catch on. Amphibious vehicles have always piqued the interest of the general public, but their impracticality for most uses and the cost of such vehicles never blew up. The first self-powered land and sea vehicle was actually created in the United States in the early 1800s and was powered by steam. There isn’t any hard evidence that it was actually able to handle the water, though. Fast-forward 200 years, and not much has changed. There are ATVs and modified SUVs that are able to trudge through relatively deep water, but none give you the true ability to go from car to boat. That might be changing if you ever get a chance to check out the work that the folks at WaterCar have created.
The Fiberglass Body
The WaterCar have been fine-tuning the hull of their vehicles since their inception in 1999. The company claims that they went through 14 different “failures” before creating the perfect body for land and sea. Using fiberglass, the hull is able to withstand both the beatings from off-road driving as well as the abuse from taking a dip. The hull is built on a proprietary chromoly chassis and is loaded with 32 cubic feet of closed cell styrofoam, which should help render it nearly unsinkable… but the Titanic was “unsinkable” too.
After much trial and error, the company supports only one engine combination, the Honda V6 V-Tec. I’m sure they tested more powerful engines, but with the ability to pump out 250 horsepower, and its reliability, it is the only one they use. The outboard motor consistently lasts over 5,000 hours between rebuilds, and has proven itself in Honda and Acura SUVs often exceeding 200,000 miles before it needs an overhaul. It also offers strong fuel economy.
The Transfer Case
WaterCar claims that this is the most important component to its vehicles. After five years of development, the company patented the transfer case in 2004. They claim that it is nearly indestructible, and the stats seem to support it (even though NOTHING IS INDESTRUCTIBLE). It uses quick-change gears and its components can handle over 1,000 HP while converting the power from the Honda V6 to the Jet and Transmission.
The company currently has two different models, the Panther and the Python. The Python is a limited release model and looks almost like a late model El Camino. The Panther is the company’s flagship ride, and looks like a cross between a Jeep Wrangler and a Toyota FJ Cruiser. The interior of both rides uses a combination of off road suspension seats with marine vinyl. The rest of the hardware is just as all-weather sporting loads of stainless steel and marine-grade equipment.
And now it is time for the reality check. You are able to buy the Panther as a kit vehicle, and probably save a bit of cash, but it is still a pricey ride. According to the website, you should expect to drop about $125,000 to make this yours. Definitely not for somebody looking simply for a new toy (unless you have that kind of cash laying around… I want to be your friend).
Weight: 2950 lbs
Height: 69″ windshield up 51″ windshield down 44″ windshield down, wheels retracted
Water Speed: 44 mph
Land Speed: 55+ mph
Engine: Honda 3.7 liter VTEC
Transmission: 4 speed manual
Marine Propulsion: Panther Jet
Tire Size: 30X9.50R15
Brakes: Four wheel disc
Wheel Retraction: Hydraulic
Fuel: 91 Octane Pump Gas
Cooling System: Closed with marine heat exchanger