If anyone can make it work, it's the racing engineers at Prodrive.
Amphibious vehicles can be rather finicky. But one man is gearing up to wade into the market. And he just might have the chops to make it work. That man is David Richards, the head of British racing consultancy Prodrive and former chairman of Aston Martin. (He also basically runs Aston's racing division and once ran Honda's F1 team.) Richards recently traveled to California and came back with a Watercar Panther, a sort of Jeep modified for use across the earth's surface... and not just the dry parts. Richards has been modifying his, in part to meet European regulations.
In the process, he became interested in developing his own. So he put some of Prodrive's young engineers on it. “I went to see one in Los Angeles and was pleasantly surprised with the quality, so I bought one with the intention of importing some into Europe. But there’s lots of legislation, and it’s tricky for the EU with emissions and crash testing. Even single type approval had some insurmountable problems,” Richards told Autocar. “Now I’m inclined to do our own. We know about them, and I have some young engineers working on it – we’re all excited by it. I have a boat engineer looking at the hull.”
The idea would be to bring an amphibious off-roader to market with a turbodiesel engine for around £150,000 – equivalent to roughly $200,000, or about the price of a new Aston DB11. But Richards has no illusions about the task. Amphibious vehicles are typically “neither a great car nor a great boat,” he said. “That’s inevitably the case, so you err towards making it a better boat, but you can still make it a better car.” Sounds good to us, and given the bang-up job it's done on so many race and rally cars, we're looking forward to seeing what Prodrive can cook up.