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Photographer's Note

Imagine glimpsing this sight and not doing a double-take! I was just happy to have my camera on hand. The scene was at the 1986 Henley Royal Regatta, pitting dozens of crews against each other: "Eights," "Fours-with-coxswain," "Fours-without..." But then, suddenly a man wearing a "boater" (straw hat) came into view, casually driving his Amphicar down the river.

The Amphicar Model 770, a portmanteau of the words "auto" and "car," was an amphibious automobile, launched at the 1961 New York Auto Show. It was manufactured in West Germany and marketed in the United States from 1961-1967, with production having ended in 1965. Since I took the photo in 1986, this car was already a vintage vehicle 20 years old. (I saw one other such vehicle in the 1960s in Washington, DC on the Potomac River.) The car designed by Hans Trippel and manufactured in Lübeck saw a total production of only 3,878.

A descendant of the Volkswagen Schwimmwage, the Amphicar offered only modest performance compared to most contemporary boats or cars, featured navigation lights and flag as mandated by U.S. Coast Guard — and after operation in water, required greasing at 13 points, one of which required removal of the rear seat. In short, it was not overly practical. This is a scanned digital photo of a thirty-year-old Kodachrome slide.

This is far from the submersible Lotus Esprit, a slick white vehicle, made famous in the 1977 James Bond film with Roger Moore “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Following the completion of the film in 1989, that car was covered by blankets, was placed in a storage container, and hopelessly lost. Then in 2001 the Lotus Esprit was found in a New York storage container purchased for $100 (£64), and subsequently sold at the RM Auctions house in London for $860,000 (£550,000). The Long Island building contractor who bought the storage container initially had no idea what he had purchased.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6712 W: 479 N: 11946] (40523)
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