The original Volkswagen Beetle famously floated on water. Its door and window seals were manufactured precisely and the amount of air contained within the main compartment provided enough buoyancy to overcome the car’s comparatively light weight.
That’s not the only German car which was designed to survive contact with the water. There was also the Amphicar, which was expected to take the U.S. by storm when it hit the market in 1961. Unfortunately, the vehicle didn’t handle especially well on roads and few people purchased them. The 770, so named because it could travel at 7 knots on water and 70 mph on the road, was a commercial failure.
Not only did only it fail to sell, less than 4000 were produced, so it went unseen by most Americans. Visitors to auto shows encountered them, but most dealerships never stocked a single Amphicar. They were points of pride for auto collectors, not typically driven.
One of their owners was unusually famous, and he did drive his model. Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States, loved his Amphicar and kept it on his ranch.
He would invite guests to see the ranch in his distinctive convertible, and as part of the tour would inevitably crest a hill before seeming to panic. He’d yell that the brakes were out as the car rolled down the hill toward the lake…
…and then he’d shift the car into boat mode and give them a lakeview tour as well.
Question of the night: What’s the best prank that’s been pulled on you?