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By Lara Vella • TODAY Sydney reporter 9:53pm Jan 31, 2018
It’s not often you get to feel like you’re in a James Bond film, but taking a spin in this extraordinary car comes pretty close.
This is a 1966 Amphicar. It’s a German-designed automobile taking you straight from the road and across Sydney Harbour.
And it’s quite remarkable how incredibly buoyant – and bizarre – you feel bobbing along the water in a floating car.
Speed isn’t her main asset, only tracking about 11km/h in the water.
But she sure is a head-turner, with white-wall tyres and a striking canary yellow making sure she’s the star attraction as we putter past Sydney’s ferries and delighted kayakers.
So exactly how does a car float on water?
Jason Fischer is the Operations Manager at the Gosford Classic Car Museum – the vehicle’s new home – and says it’s simply a matter of switching the gears into “boat mode.”
“The car is obviously shaped like a boat underneath, and the propellers are in the back,” he said.
During the 1960s, almost 4000 Amphicars were manufactured, retailing for about $3500. Now they’re worth upwards of $120,000.
Most sales came from the United States, including one purchased by former President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In fact, one of his favourite pranks was to drive the car straight off a bridge, claiming the brakes had failed, as his terrified passengers clambered for the doors.
As we glide across to Shark Island, we cop a couple of big waves thanks to some very curious ferries coming a little too close for comfort, and there’s really not much you can do except hope a strong grip and stronger stomach will keep you afloat.
But as I look out at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from the leather passenger seat of a car, with my hand gently touching the soft waves, I have to admit, it’s one incredible ride that I’ll never forget.
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