We’ve seen no shortage of amphibian cars over the past 80 years (yes, it’s been that long). Some have looked more like boats with wheels, others have been full-blown luxury motorhomes, but nevertheless, these machines have fulfilled your dreams of driving up to the launch ramp and, well…just keep on driving into the water.
Possibly the most well executed of these amphibian autos only arrived a year ago and has surprised many by its ability to do both land and sea remarkably well. The Panther WaterCar, built by Fountain Valley Body Works – a company appropriately out of Fountain Valley, California – takes much of its styling cues from the traditional Jeep Wrangler, but that’s about it.
The Panther’s powertrain is an Acura 3.7L VTEC V6 engine. Rated at an impressive 305 horsepower, the aluminum engine features single-overhead camshaft cylinder heads and 24 valves, each controlled by Acura’s Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) management software.
Backing the WaterCar is a patented transfer case using a set of Winter’s Quick Change gears and components, and a model 091 VW Vanagon bus transaxle. Amazingly, the Panther can speed up to 80-plus-mph on the road and 40-plus-mph on the water! With all that grunt, the Panther is suddenly a prime candidate for wakeboarding, tubing, or towing skiers.
But wait, there’s more! The Panther can also hold its own in the sand! The lightweight chromoly chassis is stout and can handle some duning, but the Panther has no rear-wheel drive, so drive conservatively. Likewise, the developers recommend entering the water no faster than 15mph.
Now don’t expect to pick up your new toy tomorrow. All Panthers are individually built and priced to order. In highest trim setting the Panther WaterCar comes in with a hefty $155,000 price tag. But hey, it runs on 91-octane gasoline, so that’s something. Right?