Cars that swim? That’s the nickname for the Amphicar, the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass-produced. Almost 3,900 Amphicars were built in Germany from 1961 to 1968. Of those cars, 3,046 were imported into the U.S.
The Amphicar has a top speed of 7 mph on water and 70 mph on land. An Amphicar is moved in the water by its twin nylon propellers. A special two-part land-and-water transmission built by Hermes (makers of the Porsche transmission) allows the wheels and propellers to be operated either independently or simultaneously.
The “land” transmission is a 4-speed-plus-reverse unit similar to those found in the old Volkswagen Beetles. The “water” transmission is a 2-speed offering unique to the Amphicar featuring single forward and reverse gears. In the water, the front wheels act as rudders.
When new, an Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year. All Amphicars are convertibles and were originally offered in only four colors: Beach White, Regatta Red, Lagoon Blue and Fjord Green (Aqua).
You will find many today that have been customized with paint and accessories. Some of the more unique include one adorned with pink flamingoes, one painted to resemble the Bat Mobile and another to resemble a huge rubber ducky.
Amphicars have been honored guests at the Celina Lake Festival in west central Ohio for more than 20 years. Thirty-five to 40 Amphicars are expected during the festival, which is being held July 28-30. You will begin seeing the cars on Tuesday and Wednesday of festival week as they drive around town and cruise along in the lake. Their official festival appearances include a “swim-in” July 28 and you can see the entire contingent of Amphicars as they take part in the Grand Parade July 29.
The Celina Lake Festival offers plenty of summer fun for the entire family including a huge collector car show, a fun car/boat poker run, a large craft show, free boat rides, a 5K run and music by Blame it on Shorty and fireworks July 28.
On July 29, twist and shout and dress like you’re back in the ’60s when the Beatles tribute band Hard Days Night takes the stage. Sunday is a special treat for the kids with lots of free fun including a kids fishing derby, pontoon rides, kiddie tractor pull, archery and canoeing.
The Celina Lake Festival takes place in Celina at Lake Shore Park along the northwest corner of Grand Lake St. Marys. Admission and parking are free. More information about the festival is available at lakefestival.com.
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