Various automakers over the years have tried to make amphibious vehicles that are equally at home on land and at sea. Few have succeeded, but Suzuki just showed off a Grand Vitara Marine concept car.
Purely for show at auto show
Recently, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association or SEMA, concluded its annual auto show. The SEMA auto show provides a venue where after-market parts suppliers show off custom builds and auto manufacturers show off their coolest upcoming or concept cars.
One that deviated from the norm was Suzuki’s Grand Vitara Marine concept. The Marine, according to MSNBC, is a version of Suzuki’s mid-sized crossover SUV that was heavily modified into an “amphibious vehicle.”
Avast ye college students
Suzuki commissioned students from Ohio Technical College to build the Vitara Marine. They cut off the roof and added a radar arch, a “surfboard review mirror” and a Suzuki outboard. The students also, according to MotorWard, lifted the suspension and added over-sized tires and wheels, an electric winch, DVD and monitors in the headrests, along with a hydrogen fuel cell. It isn’t seaworthy, and there’s no word on whether Suzuki is going to try to make a production version that is.
Not likely to be produced
Most amphibious vehicles are modified All Terrain Vehicles. Because many of them are six- to eight-wheeled or equipped with tracks, none are practical as a road car.
There are a few small firms that produce amphibious cars. TerraWind and WaterCar both make amphibious sports cars using Corvette LS engines. Both cost about $200,000. TerraWind also makes an amphibious luxury RV that starts at $850,000.
Gibbs Technologies made its name with the Aquada, the amphibious convertible that Sir Richard Branson set the world record in for fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious car. According to Popular Mechanics, it was supposed to be on sale in America for less than $100,000 by mid-2009, but according to AutoBlog, has been held up by emissions regulations.
The solution for those who want a road-able boat may lie in aftermarket kits. The afore-mentioned WaterCar makes a conversion kit called the Gator, which mounts a Jeep Wrangler-style body onto a Volkswagen Beetle chassis, similar to the famous Myers-Manx dune buggies. The kit retails for $29,500 and the customer has to get a Bug chassis and motor to mount it on.
Dutton, a British company, makes and exports a kit to convert a Suzuki Jimny or Samurai into an amphibious vehicle. Shipping costs are unknown, and the kit costs 8,474 pounds (or about $13,578), which includes the cost of the donor vehicle.