This Incredible Old Amphibious Isuzu Concept Reminds Me Of The Wrongest Assumption In The Automotive Industry

Nagisa Top

I’ve certainly been accused of liking weird cars or having non-mainstream automotive tastes as some kind of performance, as though I’m just doing it for attention or something like that. This, of course, is not remotely true, and it’s an accusation usually leveled by people who can’t fathom a human even can give a shit about anything that doesn’t have a massive V8 jammed under the hood. Most people, though, are more than willing to embrace my peculiar vehicular fetishes without judgement, with one notable exception: my sincere belief that an amphibious car can be a success. Pretty much nobody takes this seriously. But once, back in the early 1990s, Isuzu seemed to think it was a solid enough idea to make a really bonkers amphibious concept car. That car was the very boat-like Isuzu Nagisa.

Nagisa1

Before I get into the details of the car, let me just politely seize you by the upper arm with a demented grip, as tight and desperate as a jumper cable clamp, and demand that you hear me out when it comes to why I think – no, believe – that amphibious cars make sense. You see, I live in a place where there are lakes around, and I see plenty of boats of various sizes in people’s yards and driveways. And you know what most of those boats do? They sit there. They consume money and space. But people are willing to accept that because, generally, they feel the ass-pain of storage, trailering, unloading, re-loading, maintenance, etc. is mostly worth the enjoyment they get from being able to putter around on the water.

Until it isn’t, of course, then the boats become big, mossy monuments to procrastination and money you can no longer justify spending.

But, if you can combine at least the basics of boathood with a reasonably normal car, then you’ve got the whole problem licked. You don’t have to deal with an entirely different vessel. You don’t have to have a special place to store it, you don’t need the right scale of vehicle to tow it, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of towing, the unloading it into the water, the place you’re most likely to sink your own car in normal life, you don’t need to deal with so much if you can just drive your normal commuter right into the water and have fun.

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.

You know what would be a great platform to start with to make an amphibious car? A Ford Maverick. The base car is cheap to get into, so after the necessary modifications, you’re looking at something that perhaps could be sold for, what, $55 to $65,000. I mean, I’m pulling those numbers ex recto, but I believe it’s possible. What the hell, here’s a very, very quick sketch of what I’m imagining:

Maverick

See? A truck is an ideal platform for an amphibious car, because it already has a nice open deck at the back. Trust me, this could sell.

Okay, that was kind of a digression but I think it’s relevant here, because now perhaps you can imagine the thought process going on in the head of whatever Isuzu executive greenlit the Nagisa. Well, to be fair, while I’d bet at least some of the same ideas were considered in the context of the car as a leisure vehicle/pleasure craft, what’s even stranger is that one of the motivations for Isuzu to make an amphibious vehicle was as a way to help alleviate traffic congestion in Tokyo.

Yes, the story is – and I regret I have yet to be able to confirm it definitively with some documentation right from Isuzu, so it’s possible this is apocryphal – that the thinking was if more people could be moved off the roads and into the water, then that can only help traffic, right?

As Carstyling puts it,

” And the fact that this prototype was not invented for wealthy clients at all – it was assumed that such a machine would help unload the roads of Japan, in particular large port cities.
It was even planned to create a whole family of boats (small amphibious trucks and compact amphibians the size of kei cars were patented), but Nagisa sea trials showed that the idea was difficult to implement – this car turned out to be too slow and clumsy on the roads, and on the water it lacked stability. “

Honestly, based on the design and specs I’m surprised that it didn’t perform better in the wet or dry. Unlike what’s likely the best-known amphibious car, the Amphicar, with its little 1150cc 43 horsepower engine, the Nagisa had a 3.2-liter V6 which made a respectable 175 hp, good enough for the car to comfortably hold highway speeds.

The Nagisa had all-wheel drive as well, leveraging Isuzu’s extensive experience there, and used an impeller-driven water jet engine, like a Jet-Ski, in the water.

Amphi Nag

Design-wise, it’s pretty clear that the main focus was boat instead of car. This is a fundamentally different concept from, say, the Amphicar, which looked like a car that could go in the water; the Nagisa looks like a boat that can drive on land. I think a modern successful amphibious car needs the opposite approach: it should look more car-like.

The Nagisa unashamedly went full boat. It has a real, dramatic prow, a hood that looks more like a deck, it’s nautical white, it just feels like a cool little speedboat. It doesn’t even appear to have conventional doors.

Nagisa Rear

Around the stern, it’s even more boaty, if possible: there’s an actual deck, the cabin is open to the elements, and other than the wheels and taillights, you could easily mistake this for a water-only boat. It seems Isuzu mentioned a cap to enclose the rear, useful for the winter, when you would likely only be using this to get to and from work or whatever. I’d still think you’d have to enter from the rear, though.

Sure, the Nagisa likely leaned to hard to the boat side of things, but I’m not dissuaded from my belief that the world needs a viable, practical amphibious car. Automakers that want to make bank, you know how to contact me.

 

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit

56 Responses

  1. I’m really trying to figure out if there’s a small cabin under that front deck there. It looks like there’s a roof hatch and those two black patches all the way forward might be ports. The engine is almost certainly under the rear deck/bench, which would leave the front open. (Incidentally, this is why the Maverick wouldn’t work as a car/boat: Weight distribution. You can’t have the big heavy engine all the way forward and the floatiest bit (the open bed) all the way aft.)

    I applied for a job with a company in Pittsburgh where I could have legitimately commuted more quickly at rush hour by parking in a lot of dubious legality on one side of the Allegheny river and kayaking across to their building on the other side. Unfortunately, they moved their operations between when I applied and when I interviewed and I declined a second interview after I learned that that key perk was no longer available.

      1. Hey it’s Pittsburgh not Pittsburg. Also due to frozen rivers, river traffic, ice flows, and limited ingress and egress areas I doubt that his plan would work. But gave him a star for spelling Pittsburgh correctly.
        NO STARS FOR YOU!

        1. On the contrary, I worked on the North Shore for a couple years. While there, I would, on most days, commute by bike down the river trail from Washington’s Landing (Free Parking!). Other days, I’d take my kayak into town and pop in for a couple hours’ paddle either around the Point or up one of the rivers, including in January and February.

          Access was possible at the spots I wanted, provided I could locate the owner of a specific gravel lot along Allegheny River Boulevard.

          I’ve kayaked all up and down the Mon, Allegheny, and lower Yough and boat traffic is never a problem on weekdays, especially out of the Point area. Barge tows are infrequent, slow, and predictable. The GWC fleet and the DUKWs (no longer even a thing) don’t venture far upriver. Personal watercraft are mostly only out on weekends and are not a problem to navigate around.

          Ice, wind, and fast currents would certainly make the journey unsafe or inconvenient for several weeks out of the year (You can get a 1.5-2 foot chop on the more open sections when it’s windy.), but it would still be perfectly doable for most of the year and, when it’s not, well, I’d just sit in traffic.

  2. I used to live in Niterói, a city in Brazil that is 4km (~2.5 miles) from Rio de Janeiro on the water, and, like, 25km (~15 miles) away on the road. The reason is a big ass bay between them. As I commuted I often wondered, stuck in traffic on a 13km (~0.8 miles) bridge (it sits in the middle of said bay), how great would it be if my daily beater could traverse the mouth of the bay so I could get to work in 20min (~3.17 widdershins) instead of 1:30h (~2 pebbleworths).
    Long story short, you are absolutely right, but the marked for that is very limited. I think that if general seaworthiness could be integrated (and justified) into cars somehow (leak proof, plastic body, rust proof underneath), then the “boatyness” could be an add on. Maybe building cars that can handle salty roads on the window could justify the basic “boatyness”?

    1. I like the alternate units of time that you used. I used to have a similar scenario where I lived almost directly across a river from where I worked. If there were docks on each side, my commute would have been 3 minutes by jet ski instead of 20 by car.

  3. Here’s a thought – pontoons. Design a set of retractable pontoons that fit on a roof rack, lower them into position when you get to the boat launch, and off you go. When you’re done, drive back up the ramp and the pontoons retract enough to let the wheels do their thing, then fold back up top for the drive home.

    This solves the stability problem in the water, and keeps the body/hull of the vehicle from needing to be boat-shaped. To take it a step further, allow the pontoon apparatus to be removable for normal driving use. Include a hoist that gets installed in the customer’s garage when they buy the car, to make removal and installation a simple one-person task.

    1. Wasn’t there an article on the other site years back about an RV with pontoons which folded out of the lower sides (like baggage area on a Greyhound bus) and went cruising on a lake? Seemed like a party trick: only went like 3 knots and the thing was easily 7 figures. 2 million ~10 years ago, maybe?

  4. That seems less like an amphibious car and more like a boat on wheels. I prefer the Amphicar personally.

    What I think would be more feasible and probably would sell that same or better would be an affordable golf cart/ATV that was also a boat. Imagine all the old folks in Florida puttering around in their golf carts that, oops, accidentally end up in an alligator infested river.. literally not a problem now. Or the bros with those stupid lifted ATVs, now four of them can cruise around off-road parks AND go the lake! In the same vehicle! On the same day!

  5. It’s not too often i disagree with a Torch take. Like, i’m baffled or bemused by plenty of them, but they are always well thought out and generally pretty persuasive, but this time i’m not fully buying it. I think that you’re absolutely right about boats being a pain in the ass to actually use and so they just sit there gradually turning into trash while pissing off the local HOA, and that there must be a way to make it easier for people to boat. This goes along with your general theory of making shit less hard for people to actually do shit, an argument i find as convincing as it is wonderful, and a good way to think about Owning Shit (what, whether, and why to). But here i think that the car-leaning amphibious vehicle will simply never be great, and i really don’t think that people are willing to sacrifice much in terms of car-ness of a car that they actually rely on for daily transportation. The key is to have a boat, more similar to the Isuzu that you showed, that is mostly a boat but makes it way easier to actually use, by getting rid of the necessity for a trailer and a car that can haul said trailer. It’s like a car that’s great for driving on track that you can drive to the track as well. In that case, you make it minimally road-worthy so as to maximize track-day ahootinandahollerin. As for the amphibious car, you do the minimum to make it so a guy can just hop in his boat and drive it to the boat launch, without it being too ridiculous, unsafe, or otherwise burdensome for all the people in regular cars. Or, like, just get a fucking canoe/kayak that fits on a roof rack. What do i know?

  6. Torch, if the three geniuses of Clarkson, May, and Hammond can’t get it right after trying for decades I don’t think it is functionally possible.

    Also, the idea that these could eliminate congestion by getting cars off the road is silly. You’re just moving congestion to the launching ramps.

    1. Your comment here and my 4th Vodka and coke give me an idea. Most people are driving with no or just 1 passenger. How about an ultralight? Takeoff in your yard land in the parking garage top floor, which is always the last to be filled and park there. Just find a way to protect the pilot and 1 passenger from bad weather and don’t fly in really bad weather.

  7. I think the boat car is more doable than the flying car, but neither seem to have generated much in the way of success.
    There used to be a guy, in the subdivision where I lived as a kid, he had an amphicar it never moved as long as I can remember.
    The Nagisa looks pleasant enough, it has a BMW-like face, the roof looks a bit like a basketball player’s custom Fiero and the back looks like a boat with built in trailer lights. Too bad it wasn’t a better car/boat.

    1. I’ve seen a good proposal for a roadable plane. That is, a fairly uncompromised private plane where a pilot can fold the wings, pop on an auxiliary drive unit akin to the back half of a motorcycle (which can be either taken in the back of the plane or left at an airport), and drive home to avoid hangar fees or drive to town from some of the more remote western airports. The flipside, though, never makes sense and while the above is a valid use case, it’s not likely to ever be a very large market.

  8. “an accusation usually leveled by people who can’t fathom a human even can give a shit about anything that doesn’t have a massive V8 jammed under the hood.”

    Now that’s not fair, I like V10s too….

  9. I grew up on a lake in Michigan. One of my Neighbors had two of the old Amphicars in his yard. It seemed he worked on them for two years, then drove them on the lake for a few times, then worked on them for two years, then repeat cycle. They could only drive them into the water on the boat launch site, and got lots of strange looks. The cars’ owners also had strange looks on their faces, as if the thing could, and may, go to the bottom at any second.

  10. I agree.This would have sold better than the amphicar ,if for nothing else than the HP figure.
    Japanese build quality and detailing are solid pluses.
    I wonder why they said it was too slow on the road?Couldn’t it reach highway speeds or something?

    As for reducing road traffic i can see the massive flaw. How many of these would it take to make the bay a dangerous mess?Less than a thousand would do that.
    That’s not a lot of cars being removed from the roads.
    And how much parking space is available in an already clogged shorefront? So mechanized multi level parking would be needed to solve that.

  11. I’ve always loved the idea of an amphibious car and if any actual automaker would make one, I’d seriously consider buying it. I live in Colorado, but I’d love to be able to drive my car to the nearest lake or boat-able reservoir and watch all the other vacationers turn green with envy as I puttered my car right into the damn water. Also, think of the advantages in places like New Orleans or anywhere in Hurricane alley – it would make storm evacuations easy-peasy. With rising sea levels, maybe this idea will make a comeback. I sure hope so.

    1. I lived on one side of Biscayne Bay in Miami, 6 blocks from a boat ramp, and worked on the other side of the bay 2 blocks from another boat ramp for about 10 years. It wouldn’t have made my commute much faster to use an amphibian to get to and from work but it certainly would have been more relaxing than rush hour traffic.

  12. As a person who loves supercars and sports cars and power and all that stupid bullshit I have to say; The world needs more weird, quirky, cars! I will never understand how people DON’T love these strange little corners of the automotive world. Yes they are often ugly, yes they are probably shit cars, but goddamn it they have more personality than another fucking Nova with a mild 350 and a 3 speed auto or a goddamn S-Chassis with some over boosted swapped engine on the verge of blowing up, or some dilapidated sport compact with a fart-can exhaust and 2 different sets of wheels or some CUV Mobility Box, or some overgrown, luxury truck that will never see dirt, lumber, tools, or work… Let me get off my soapbox, now…

  13. The biggest issue, people do Stupid Shit to their cars. Drill hole in the weirdest (or not) places for the dumbest reasons. I know the warranty would protect against peoples stupidity but not for the headlines online that would shake consumer confidence. It is why there are so many nice things we can not have.

  14. There are several commenters here who make great points about challenges facing the amphibious car maker, as well as the customer requirements for both a boat and a car. Some of the solutions proposed are excellent, but I don’t think they go far enough. I have a design proposal that may address these issues.

    Customer requirements:
    Boat:
    – Useable deck space/room to move
    – Open Air
    – Stable
    – Moderate speed

    Car:
    – Easy to use as a daily driver
    – Functional cargo space
    – Moderate performance

    Mechanical Requirements
    – Minimal hydrodynamic drag
    – Minimum protrusions through watertight hull

    My vision is to take the general form of a pontoon boat or catamaran , and couple it with a rear RWD powertrain. It will rely heavily on drive by wire in order to work. Rather than two watertight compartments running the length of the vehicle, each pontoon would be broken into watertight sections, interrupted by spaces for the wheels. This configuration would allow the wheels to be fully enclosed, minimizing the drag over the suspension equipment. All suspension mounting points would be on the interior of this wheel well, eliminating as many pass-throughs through the hull as possible. The steering mechanism would require the steering gear to be mounted well above the waterline, and the forces transmitted to the tie rods via a bell-crank system. This will undoubtedly introduce a bit of play and slop in steering, but people still drive jeeps, so…. The rear wheel wells would have traditional stuffing boxes for the fixed inboard axle shafts, which would be connected to wheel ends via CV shafts. If we want to get super fancy, adding a moderate power lift function to the suspension at each corner and retractable doors to cover the wheel wells would aid in efficiency. Otherwise, partial fairing of the front half of the wheel, and tapering of the following pontoon section would be required to minimize drag.

    The engine would be mid-rear mounted a transfer case and transaxle. The transfer case would allow the driver to select the wheels, the water propulsion (jet or prop, either works), or both (for launching and recovery). This setup allows weight to be appropriately distributed over the hull, and efficient handling of the power transmission.

    The passenger compartment would be something of a departure from standard. In order to maintain the integrity of the hull, side doors would be vestigial at best. However, there would be a rear door with fold down (swim) ladder that allows entry to the vehicle. The swim ladder would not be more than a half-height door. There may be an opportunity to make the upper half glass that retracts into the ladder, and the ladder could be dual action – open to the side or down. Passenger seats would be pushed to the outside of the vehicle envelope, allowing a walkway down the length of the vehicle. The roof would be removeable in panels, like a Jeep or a Bronco, to allow for the open air experience. The rear cargo area would be a flat deck with the engine below it. The deck would need to have hatches to allow for engine maintenance.

    Overall, it would look a bit like a skirted Canoo truck, or a skirted Transit with removeable roof panels, but I think it deals with a lot of the issues raised by other combo vehicles. It’d be a 2 row “crossover” with the footprint of a 3 row.

    1. That’s a pretty good take, it could actually be a decent business proposition as a pontoon boat that doesn’t need mooring space or a tow vehicle. Only downside is it’d cost as much as a truck and have no more room than a speedboat, but would travel a bit slower than a pontoon on water. But with some Hot Wheels Deora styling, I think it could at least clear the stylish requirement.

  15. One big issue for me: Cars that break can be towed home. All boats CAN sink. Engineered boaty-car things are inherently compromised from the get-go. Cars are already hard enough to build for safety, adding in death by drowning seems to double the effort.

    Of course, I’m not really an aquatic mammal. So there’s that…

  16. Part of the appeal of a boat is that you can move around on it. I never got the concept of the amphibious car as anything but a toy, just like a jet ski it’s too limited in what you can do in it. I can’t imagine spending several hours in the water in a Ford Maverick.

    1. I agree but a jet ski is or was Hellafun until Big Brother started legislation on them. Now rip cord, helmet, life vest, no wake,must have separate operation license, registration, insurance, separate safe boating operation, no under 14 years old operation, clean between uses to prevent invasive species (this is a good one) speed limits but no speedometer

  17. I have always thought that retractable side pontoons would go a long way towards keeping an amphibian stable in the water. Saw a picture of some military amphibians that did just that, pulling the pontoons up over the roof when not used for floatation. Attractive? Not today, but if they help the craft get up on plane and move at 20-30 knots on the water instead of the 5-6 that a displacement hull is limited to in the water, tastes may change.

    1. Seas are rising the skies are falling we are all going to die. Let the government take over our lives and tell everyone but me what to do.
      Climate change exists. It has been going on far longer than man has been on the planet. There are deserts that have fossils of sea creatures in them. There are undersea worlds that have fossils from land based mammals. And for Christ’s sake most of the ice that would melt in a warm episode is 80% underwater already much like the ice cubes in my drink. If the ice melted the seas would only increase 20% of what The projections are and given all the droughts and lack of water in alot of places I think we would use it up. Scientists are very smart but very myopic. They only look at a single effect from their own field.
      But if you own ocean front property and want to sell it cheap to live in the mountains or some other region of the 80% of the USA that is not developed fine I’ll buy it cheap.s/

  18. Problem is, when people buy a slow car, they want mainly two things: safety and comfort. That means a hard top, square-bodied vehicle with good passenger restraints, compartmentalized to separate the occupants in case of a crash.

    But when buying a slow boat, they want two things: style and lounging space. No car can be a stylish boat, it will look geeky at best. The least stylish boats are pontoons, popular due to their ability to get you a lot of open deck space for cheap so you can take your friends out and party on the water.

    A lifted jeep is compromised to drive off-road, which is a very similar task to driving on-road, as it requires that the wheels stay on the ground, the car moves forward with its engine and transmission, and the passengers stay seated in their respective cocoons within the cage. Really, it’s the same task in a different environment, like boating on a lake versus boating on a river.

    Meanwhile, compromising between the needs of a car (see above) and the practical, idyllic and safety needs of a boat, which are to enable you to drive standing up to protect your spine from waves, have open-air lounge space for your new bikini-clad friends to lay down and sunbathe, and enable you to quickly bail in any direction without risk of smashing your dome on a windscreen so as not to drown in case of a capsize.

    As much as you can somewhat make a car that drives on water without compromising its qualities as a car too much more than an off-road convertible, you can’t do it without severely compromising its qualities as a boat.

    Nearly nobody uses boats as cars for the water, they’re really more like a moving patio, a platform where one can practice other hobbies such as pickup artistry, water skiing and fishing (all of them common human mating rituals).

  19. Boat schmoat. You are slipping Torch. What the world clearly needs, is a combination car/hovercraft with retractable rubber skirts that also serve as a whole-body bumper. I see no possible safety issues or production difficulties with such an outstanding idea.

      1. Kinda. Tho that’s clearly a horrible wobbly carbonate, not a hovervan. Also, it’s a Sprite, and they are fucking awful caravans. Putting it in water simply makes it more difficult for it to be on fire, which is a shame

  20. Maybe it’s just me, but the font for the name of the car “NAGISA”, while rendered in the font prevalent to Isuzu at that time, almost looks like the NASA worm logo… just remove the “G” and the “I” and the cross-members of the “A”s, and there ya go.

    I really, REALLY, can’t unsee that now.

  21. If you’re making an amphibious car it shouldn’t have any doors below the waterline, and because of that it usually compromises its ability to be anything but a fair weather car/boat.

    Jeremy Clarkson basically proved the amphibious pickup concept. The bed of a pickup is the perfect place for one to control their amphibious car. However in order to make that area work one would have to very well seal up the tailgate which would mostly negate the usefulness of a pickup

    Your best bet for an amphibious car would be something like the VW ID Buggy. No doors, very open, lots of polymers, etc.

    If I were building an amphibious car it would be a boat first and a car second, not the other way around.

    1. One step further have a frunk and put a smaller ICE engine in the back. Have a side swing tailgate and use the ICE motor instead of 4 outboards to run the props, now the waterline would be higher but use the old pop out stairs like in old airplanes.

  22. I would have joined the chorus of those blaming the Amphicar’s failure on its attempt to do two things at once and the inherit compromises associated… but then I saw what’s happened with camera phones.

    Any time multiple functions are combined into a single device there is inherent compromise at work making each function less effective than it would be in a standalone version. When camera phones were first introduced, I was skeptical that they’d ever be more than a novelty. The first ones took truly horrendous pictures, and due to the inherent compromises associated with squeezing their electronics into a cell phone, I knew they could never take pictures that were as good as a decent point-and-shoot camera.

    But they didn’t *have* to be as good as a point-and-shoot in order to gain acceptance. They only had to be “good enough” and the convenience had to be worthwhile. Few people get a new point-and-shoot camera every other year, but many get a new phone at that frequency, so it didn’t take long for the camera in someone’s cell phone to equal the performance of the 10-year-old camera in a drawer somewhere whose proprietary cable has long gone missing. The convenience of “good enough” pictures that are easy to view and share trumped the technical edge that the standalone device held.

    And that’s all that needs to happen for amphibious cars to be a success. They don’t have to be the best boat and the best car — they just have to be “good enough” at each role that the compromises are outweighed by the conveniences.

    I don’t know if nautical technology has progressed at the same place that electronics have, but the fact that there are compromises shouldn’t make it a non-starter.

    1. I agree with you thesis but not your conclusion. So much of the car owning public would never use the boat aspects so would never buy. The cost of a phone/camera people see good phone the camera is free. The phone is good as it is. A car/boat spend $60,000 for trying it? No. Mediocre car for a never used boat? No! You can use the phone and camera anywhere. Moderate car with a boat you won’t use cause not a boater, or will use but have to travel 100s of miles to use because of draw? Nope not the same thing. But the argument works for many other things. Good enough so that if you have capital drain the competition until they close.

      1. I mean, sure, you’re not going to see every car on the road replaced with an amphibious car/boat hybrid no matter how good they get. They’d always be a niche at best — like convertibles — not for everyone but a fun solution for those who like it. That said, I’m sure there’s currently an untapped market of people who might enjoy boating but can’t get into it for any number of factors that would be solved by an amphibious car (limited storage space, inability to tow, fear of launching/recovering — have you ever watched videos of boaters struggling with their trailers on the launch ramp? It can be a real mess.).

  23. For an automoboat to work, you cannot start with a 4-wheeled car. All the safety requirements make cars just too damn heavy to be a viable boat. So start with a 3-wheeler, like a Slingshot or Morgan. Now you have a simpler, lighter base, and therefore, less water you need to displace to float.

    The next biggest challenge is transferring power from the wheels to a prop/water-jet impeller. You can either do this with a transfer case and a lot of gears and shafts, or go with a completely separate power train like an out-board. Or, if we look to the future of the industry, we go with electric. Since the biggest weight of EVs is the battery, having one motor for roads and a second for water isn’t as big a penalty as it is for gas-power.

    Now for steering, if we use a jet-ski approach, steering can easily be handled by the jet nozzle, just like any jet ski. On something like a Morgan, you could potentially just have solid wheels on the front and use the same steering for road and water.

    I bet somebody could make a 3-wheeled EV that is decent on both land and lakes and even street legal.

Leave a Reply