I’ve known that cars that could double as boats were a thing since I first began doodling in my kindergarten notebook. Who amongst us hasn’t dreamed of our automobiles doing more than just boring old driving? And so, a few years later, when my father showed me a picture of an Amphibicar 770 I wanted one deeply.
The Amphibicar 770 was produced in West Germany from 1961 – 1965 and was a thing of beauty. I craved mine candy-apple red and imagined racing around the streets then splashing into the ocean at top speed, flying down the coast at tremendous speed too. Then my father told me they didn’t drive well and also didn’t boat well.
Dreams die hard and I still wanted one, as I got older, for surf exploration but then I had exclusively of old cars, a 1960 Ford Falcon, a 1965 Ford Ranchero, a 1972 MG Midget etc. and knew that my vintage Amphibicar, while looking cool, would only ever sit in the garage.
Well, yesterday I learned that the world’s oldest car company wholly owned by its founder is one that manufactures amphibious cars and let’s head straight in to a thorough description.
Is it a boat? Is it a car? Actually, it’s the best of both – an amphibious vehicle. It’s the ideal solution for anyone who fancies driving to the coast and then… well, motoring out to sea. For the past 50 years, Tim Dutton has been at the helm of his eponymous firm. He started out in 1969 and is justly proud of the fact Dutton is the oldest car company in the world still wholly owned by its founder. He is based in a workshop in the pretty village of Littlehampton where he has his own slipway into the River Arun. Visitors can take a Surf out for a test drive/cruise. You won’t be surprised to hear that owning a dinky Dutton is a niche interest – Tim sells about a dozen a year. Most drivers/captains just want to have fun – who wouldn’t in a vehicle that looks like a cross between a sports car and a rubber duck? – but there are more serious applications, too.
Yeah. I know what those serious applications are. Driving them into line-ups infested with SUP foils, like Santa Cruz’s Cowell’s Beach which saw last week’s VAL/SUP foil/surfing dog mix-up. It’s the apocalypse out there, a Dutton is no larger nor more dangerous than a SUP foil and, I would imagine, handles similarly.
My dream is back and, soon, it will be the World Surf League’s President of Content, Media and Studios dream too only he’ll stand on the back of his Dutton swinging a paddle.
To each his own, I suppose, as that is the motto of the apocalypse.
Also, though, while we’re here… what is the greatest car you’ve ever owned?