Amphicar makes waves on the Rideau River
OTTAWA -- You have probably heard of it, but maybe never seen one.
It's part car, part boat, all vintage and its owner enjoys taking it for a plunge and cruising on down the Rideau River. Yes, it's an Amphicar
It's a beautiful day for a cruise. Steve Ewing is pulling his baby-blue car out of the garage at his Merrickville home. It even matched the sky.
Ewing says the Amphicar is not just vintage, "It's the only car really that floats and it's the only boat that drives."
It is a 1964 Amphibi car model 770. Only 3,878 of the West German manufactured amphibious vehicles were ever made. Production ran from 1961 until 1965. Ewing took the plunge nine years ago to buy one because it was something he always wanted.
"The idea that a car could float was just amazing and it kind of captured my imagination," says Ewing.
The vehicle required a lot of work.
"The front suspension was seized up on it, the engine had no spark and when I did get it running it ran really poorly, the carburetor was gummed up. New engine, new brakes all around."
Now his 48 HP beauty purrs like a kitten. It also required extensive bodywork so that you are not pumping water out of it all the time. Ewing says that can make people a little nervous.
The car works off one transmission and with the pull of a lever the gearbox switches from the wheels to the two propellers on the back, it steers with the front tires. Ewing notes that it makes better right turns than left. The brake pedal of course doesn't work, however you can throw the props into reverse and it doesn't travel too fast. It's a comfortable trolling speed of seven knots, that's 13 kilometres an hour for all you land bearing folk.
It's a relaxed pace and it offers plenty of time for people on the shore or boats to check it out. Kevin McNamara is docked at the Burritts Rapid lock station along the Rideau River.
"You just can't explain it can you, it's just so rare it's a classic," says McNamara, who received a ride in the water car last summer. "I saw them growing up on TV, that famous picture of Lyndon Johnson driving one as president."
Ewing might not feel presidential when he is on tour but he says there are no shortage of spectators and there are lots of waves and smiles. And he has no plans of turning his one cart into a flotilla. He says this car is as good as it's going to get and plans to keep it as long as he can.