Home » The Entire Dutton Amphibious Car Company Is Up For Sale And You Could Buy It

The Entire Dutton Amphibious Car Company Is Up For Sale And You Could Buy It

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Who didn’t dream of owning a car company as a kid? Pumping out machines of your own desire, building what both you and your customers think is cool. Sadly, the real world presents some barriers to car company ownership, but don’t consider that childhood dream entirely impossible just yet. The entirety of Dutton Amphibious Vehicles is up for sale, so if you happen to have a whole lot of money burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy an amphibious car company. No really, I’m not joking. Here’s what Dutton says is up for grabs:

ON OFFER (subject to contract):

Whole set 1999 GRP(FRP) moulds and production jigs for Surf

Whole set 2014 GRP(FRP) moulds and production jigs for Reef

All equipment in factory to produce the above inc removable mezzanine floor. Some of the machinery dating back to the late 60’s has no value and is included at no cost.

1/ Web sites:- timdutton.com duttoncars.com amphijeep.biz

2/ Current web site still up and running is timdutton.com

3/ Registered trade mark “Dutton”

4/ 54 years of suppliers details

5/ Hand holding by Tim Dutton thru transfer who is happy to assist for a set time if required. This can include vehicle production and as importantly vehicle/marine legislation including Individual Vehicle Approval. Worthy of note that our amphibs invariably pass IVA on first application.

6/ Other amphibious car projects in the pipe line…..

7/ Use of the name Tim Dutton as a figurehead if required.

8/ Continued consultancy by Tim Dutton if required.

That’s basically everything you need to make two models of amphibious vehicle, and all the intellectual property to keep marketing them for years, or at least until your money runs out. You know what they say: To make a small fortune in automobiles, start with a large one. So, what exactly are these amphibious vehicles? Allow me to introduce you to the Dutton range.

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Dutton Surf 1

First up is the Dutton Surf, a Suzuki Jimny-based amphibious SUV that really redefines the term “go-anywhere.” With proper four-wheel-drive and a jet drive for the water, this thing can tackle just about anything but the air. Land, sea, take your pick. We’re talking about eight inches of ground clearance, approach and departure angles of 35 and 30 degrees, and a jaunty 2,500-pound curb weight over here. Intriguingly, the Surf also used Mk4 Volkswagen Golf headlights for a while, and thanks to the molded-in-color monocoque, it’s not the sort of vehicle that’s liable to rust out structurally during a lifetime of water excursions. Oh, and it was even available with a poupe deck, which is just a fun phrase to say.

Dutton Reef 1

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Of more practical interest to the American market is the Dutton Reef. It’s an entry-level front-wheel-drive amphibious vehicle based on the common Mk7 Ford Fiesta. Since it uses the 1.6-liter powertrain, American Fiestas seem like prime donor cars, and the amphibious capabilities should prove a sleeper hit with the weirdos (affectionate) of water-heavy jurisdictions. Sure, it has a top speed of just 6 mph on the water, but imagine taking a direct route through the water instead of meandering along stop-and-go freeways.

Dutton Reef 3

If that rather pedestrian water speed turns you off, you aren’t the only one. As our resident professional car designer Adrian Clarke pointed out in our Slack, “A car boat! It’s the worst of both worlds: A shit car AND a shit boat.” He’s not wrong, but the flipside is that objectively bad things can be very entertaining. Ever watched Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room”?

[Editor’s Note: I just want to say that this is one of those rare times where I’m going to ask – no, demand – that nobody listen to Adrian. Amphibious cars are fantastic. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a great car or a great boat – most of us don’t need great anythings, and the combination of car and boat is so much greater than the sum of their parts. 

I’ve actually ranted about this before, right here:

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“People always say that cars like the Amphicar failed because they were inherently compromised, not a great car or a great boat. I get that. But here’s the secret: it doesn’t need to be great at either! It just needs to be adequate as a boat, and pretty good as a car. Err on the side of car, because people will use it as a car far more than a boat, and really, for most people, all they demand of a boat is something they can easily putter around a body of water in, without sinking, in reasonable comfort.

An ideal amphibious car will be affordable and should operate at least as well on public roads as other vehicles designed primarily for recreation; if it doesn’t make any more driving compromises than, say, a lifted Jeep, I think you’re good to go.”

Is it weird to blockquote myself? In an Editor’s Note? Who cares. I love amphibious cars. I wish I had the money to give this a go! Who wants to buy my middle kidney? – JT]

Dutton Surf 2

Oh, and Dutton amphibious vehicles can’t be that bad because Dutton claims to have sold more than 280 of them over the past 34 years or so. That’s far from crazy volume, but it certainly isn’t bad. As far as business points go Dutton also makes a point of recurring revenue, customers popping in for MOTs, pre-IVA checks, servicing, and what have you. Sure, the Surf can be serviced at any Suzuki dealer and the Reef at any Ford dealer, but this sort of customer loyalty isn’t terribly surprising for a niche maker of fantastic machines.

Dutton Reef 2

Plus, think of the scalability here. Who needs autonomous robotaxis when you have manned water taxis for sightseeing, commuting, and everything in between? Why not sell these things to rich folks with private islands who occasionally need to hop across to the mainland? The Reef could even be a hit in low-lying locales threatened by sea levels, hurricanes, and whatnot. It looks way easier to park than a deuce-and-a-half, yet should still be capable of evacuating from waterlogged areas.

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Dutton Sierra

Preceding production of amphibious vehicles, Dutton made its mark on the automotive industry from a David-versus-Goliath battle with Ford. In 1980, Dutton launched a strictly land-going Ford Escort-based crossover SUV kit car called the Sierra. Two years later, Ford came along wanting to use the Sierra name for its family hatchback. As Car Magazine reports, Ford served Dutton with a legal writ, but London’s High Court ruled in Dutton’s favor, categorically separating assembled cars and kit cars to make peace. Before that, Tim Dutton-Wooley made sports cars in kit form, and even designed an ill-fated sports car based on the Polski Fiat P125. The man’s a weird car god, up there with Andre Citroën and Tom Karen.

Dutton Surf 3

In case strong heritage and everything you need to make real amphibious cars isn’t enough, here’s something else to consider: Jason is very much interested in Dutton, writing “I wonder if I can convince Beau this would be a wise investment,” and to be perfectly honest, we would all like to stay employed. Please, buy Dutton before manufacturing amphibious cars becomes a serious fucking problem for us. I guess if all else fails, we do have membership and merch, right?

(Photo credits: Dutton Cars, Buch-t – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

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Jayson Elliot
Jayson Elliot
9 months ago

Make a new top membership tier for Autopian: Whale Penis Leather Member

As A WPL Member You Get

  • Everything in Cloth+Vinyl+Velour+RCL
  • 3-year lease of a fully built Dutton Reef
  • Your choice of colors: Jet Black, Canary Yellow, Diamond White, NATO Green, Blue, or Orange

$7,000 per year – 36 month contract required

———————————————————-

I worked out the numbers quickly – that would be a fair lease rate for a $37k vehicle like the Dutton Reef, assuming it had a 40% depreciation over 3 years.

Tell me there aren’t 50 people in the world you could find to take this deal.

Autopian Motors, I am ready to buy your WPL Membership car!

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago
Reply to  Jayson Elliot

It’s only eighty percent car.
Ten percent boat.
Ten percent contraption.
It’s difficult to do the math on.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago

As I understand it, these make for terrible boats and terrible cars… and the number of people willing to pay for a bad car and bad boat in one package is very small.

Miles Long
Miles Long
9 months ago

Pah! The Quandt Amphicar (you know the one, it sold almost 15 times greater than all the Duttons so far) could do 8 mph on water, fully 1/3 faster than the Dutton Reef. So much for ‘progress’. Admittedly, the Reef looks faster than it is.

I_drive_a_truck
I_drive_a_truck
9 months ago

I would pay for an Marine Vinyl membership just to see Dutton become part of the Autopian auto conglomerate.

Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
9 months ago

From the license plates it’s a Brittish outfit… I’m not sure any of the Autopian writter/owner would want to relocate from Sunny California to Rainy Blighty.

Because owning & managing a company is not something you can do from half a world away.

Martin English
Martin English
9 months ago

Who needs a car / boat, when you can have a car / submarine ?
https://www.carexpert.com.au/car-news/electric-toyota-landcruiser-drives-7km-underwater

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
9 months ago

“You could buy it”. Yeah, right, maybe if I won the lottery. Let’s see what they’re actually asking for..

OFFERS CONSIDERED for all or part sale. We are more interested in someone keeping the brand going than a vast sum of money, offers in excess of £10K will be considered.”

..huh.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
9 months ago

The official amphibious vehicle of the hit TV show Yellowstone?

Tinibone
Tinibone
9 months ago

All I can say is I’m sure Adrian and The Bishop would make a great design team for the autopian’s amphibious vehicle!

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
9 months ago

Does the package include Dutton Malaga tooling? This was a Lotus 7 style car usually based on a,Triumph Spitfire but often powered by whatever was on the shelf or cheap at the breakers.
The idea is fun but don’t expect to get rich.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
9 months ago

Things I don’t want to hear when I’m boarding some kind of sinkable water born vessel:
”Welcome aboard, my name is Captain Torchinsky”
I don’t like little boats. I like big boats that carry little boats in case the big boat sinks.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

It’s better than boarding a waterborne vessel and meeting your captain.. Cap’n Crunch.
I think?
I’m not sure who I would trust more on that voyage.

Last edited 9 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Greg
Greg
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

First Mate is the chainsaw, safety is guaranteed

Martin English
Martin English
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

75% survival rate !!!

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

You do realise, by writing that phrase and publishing it on the internet, that he now has a brevet promotion, yes?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago

6 MPH? A real buoy racer.

Last edited 9 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
9 months ago

Nice!

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
9 months ago

You magnificent bastard.

James Davidson
James Davidson
9 months ago

COTD

Brian Carrington
Brian Carrington
9 months ago

I think you just named my Sailboat. Thanks!

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago

Sweet! Can I bash it on the bow with an empty champagne bottle now? It was full a minute ago.
It’s all in good fun.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
9 months ago

You know how kit cars always smell like a fucking canoe because of the GRP and glue?
WELL GOOD NEWS.
Still, at least you’ll be off your face on glue fumes as the pig iron Ford mechanicals drag you down into the briny deep.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Adrian is being circumspect again. Can anyone divine what his true feelings are on this subject?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

OK hear me out.

What if it came in black? With black waterproof vinyl seats?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
9 months ago

NO FUCKING SALE.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
9 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Nonsense. An all black car that sends you to a watery doom? How Goth is that? Come on now…

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

I can comfortably state lottery tickets are a far better investment. A body kit needing a ever declining donor rig that by now might be gone or no longer usable. I agree you dont need both to be great but 6mph in the water at best? My fat ass floats quicker than that. It has good ground clearance but poor deck clearance. Doing a cannonball off the side or a boat soaring by, well it is a boat not a submarine. I think maybe with 4wd but launching and unlaunching with fwd not a good recipe.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
9 months ago

If you buy them, bring back the Dutton Melos instead. And the delightfully dumpy Dutton Rico as well.

Data
Data
9 months ago
10001010
10001010
9 months ago
Reply to  Data

Oh my dude I remember singing along with this song at the top of my voice when I was still too young to know what any of it meant 🙂

Ron Bitter
Ron Bitter
9 months ago

I really want to like these things but 6mph? I could swim faster.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
9 months ago
Reply to  Ron Bitter

Then you would be the fastest swimmer in history. Phelps top speed was around 6MPH. Good luck.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Screw phelps! Fat floats i only need forward momentum.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

This great and all, but I’m saving my money to buy the Supercar company when it comes on the market.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Just buy Spyker when it goes bankrupt again… which should happen soon since the company is relying on Russian investors to stay afloat.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyker_Cars

Alexk98
Alexk98
9 months ago

They have a long history of modifying Ford’s in new an inventive ways, and by “they” I mean BOTH Galpin and Dutton. I don’t think a better match could exist… just saying

10001010
10001010
9 months ago

“Please, buy Dutton before manufacturing amphibious cars becomes a serious fucking problem for us.”

Gee, I’d like to help, but… I’m pretty sure all of us really want to see Jason running an amphibious car company for the articles and videos that would create. Sorry.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
9 months ago
Reply to  10001010

Pretty sure articles and videos, especially videos, would be the only way to make an amphibious car company profitable. Need to sell the streaming rights to Amazon or Netflix for the big bucks. Would love to see the “unscripted” drama of Beau, Jason, and David arguing ala the Teutels of OCC.

10001010
10001010
9 months ago

I wanna see them rounding Cape Horn at the helm of 3 amphibious cars!

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
9 months ago

It sounds like Tim’s looking to retire from the day to day, which after 55 years of owning and operating a reasonably successful business, good on him. (Look, you don’t last that long contiguously unless you’re at least breaking even!)

Hopefully he finds a buyer that’s as passionate about the craft as he’s been.
If only we knew a bunch of crazies into weird cars, with a dealer connection to help them manage the large existing customer base and 30ish people ready to pay cash before the car’s even built…

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Yeah selling 8 cars a year over 34 years must be exhausting. My guess he figured he could build it and never asked should i build it? And now realizes his needed base cars are dissappering. What is he asking? But i am nothing if not a risk taker. I am offering half of a bologna and cheese sandwich IF at no time during a sales presentation i dont laugh out loud.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
9 months ago

So, when’s the fundraiser for Autopian to buy them?

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
9 months ago

I genuinely think this is a fantastic idea. I have a background in live streaming fundraisers to the tune of about ten million dollars it is completely viable, depending on what Tim is looking for

Lokki
Lokki
9 months ago

I have a suggestion for the fund raising appeal’s slogan – you have to hit em right in the feels to make em shell out the simoleans ya know:

“Women and Children First!”

Or, we could go the other way:

“Sure it’s a shit car and a shit boat, but shit always floats!”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

I suggest this vehicle has personally approved by Stockton Rush.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
9 months ago

I’d maybe sign up for that extra fancy-schmancy membership level if it came with an extended warranty on the Amphitopian Amphibious Car and maybe a factory tour…

Last edited 9 months ago by Austin Vail
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

8 cars a year? Hand built no factory.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
9 months ago

Just a wave of new and old companies that can sink so fast

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

If I bought this company, would that be considered sunk cost?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

You’ll definitely be underwater for a little while.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
9 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

let’s be honest, with 8 units sold per year it’ll need a bailout in a couple years.

3WiperB
3WiperB
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Buy it. Give in to the pier pressure. Don’t let the lack of sails discourage you. If you have enough capital, you can float it for a while.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

You could probably shore it up with some investor capital.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Change it to EV FLOAT BOAT GET A HABDOUT FROM NEWSOME IF CALIFORNIA HASNT BEEN STOLEN BY THEN

James Davidson
James Davidson
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Followed by waves of nausea as your pool of funds evaporates.

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