In the back of a houseboat in Paris, there's a shiny red vintage car. You might miss it, taking in the River Seine, but on closer inspection, you might recognize it from somewhere. It was photographed by famed LIFE Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt as it actually crossed the Seine in 1963. This is the Amphicar.
From a Paris resident in the know: "The amphicar in Paris is owned by Undersea Architect and visionary Jacques Rougerie. Its a 1964 and he has had it for about 15 years.
It was restored in France, with all of the parts being purchased from Hugh Gordon in California. Jacques and I have cruised the Champs-Elysee many times in it, but Ive yet to take it in the Seine. It has some very unique cleats above the front wheel wells. I have no idea where they came from, but they look great.
The boat that it sits on is a Pineche, or French river barge that has been converted to his home and office. Inside, he has an aquarium full of lake sturgeon which you can actually dive into and hang out in a bell. The rest of Jaques daily life is equally as interesting."
4,500 of these cars were manufactured in Berlin from years 1962 to 1967. Only about 500 of them are still in use today, 90 of which are still in Europe.
They were the only amphibious vehicles ever produced outside of military operations and made available for commercial use. They're capable of going more than 70mph on land and eight knots by sea. Drivers attest to its comfort and describe its ride as being similar to a high quality 1960s European saloon car or 1980s American car.
However, the Amphicar failed due to its extraordinarily high cost and a marketing disaster inexplicably driven by its engineering staff. It did complete some incredible road trips from Africa to Spain, San Diego to Catalina Island and England to France.
Companies Hobbycar of France and AmphiRanger of Germany made final attempts for amphibious vehicles on a small, built-to-order basis, but by 1996, both factories were shuttered.
Today, amphibious vehicles can fetch up to $100,000 on the used market. They require two licenses to operate: one for land and one for sea. Here's a look at one of the Amphicars recently on the market:
And a 1961 Lagoon Blue model for sale for a mere £45,000 in the United Kingdom.
Credit: Messy Nessy Chic