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PHOTOS: Look at the Vintage Boat Car That Sold for $33K in Rockaway

By Katie Honan | August 26, 2014 7:27am
 The 1967 Amphicar sold on eBay on Sunday for much less than other listings.
Vintage Boat Car Sells in Rockaway
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BELLE HARBOR — This car actually is a boat.

A vintage boat car, the same kind owned by former President Lyndon Johnson, has found a new port after being scooped up on eBay.

A car collector in Belle Harbor hawked his Lagoon Blue convertible Amphicar, one of only a few hundred of its kind left out of fewer than 4,000 made, for 32,800 clams on Sunday, according to his eBay listing.

The "rare and unusual" car came with "big fins!" the seller wrote on the eBay post.

"I am sure you know these Amphibious cars are very rare and I believe there are about 500 remaining," he wrote in the listing.

"This one is a restored beauty."

The convertible, with a yellow interior, had the original engine, a cassette player and just more than 25,000 miles — although it's not clear how many of those were logged in the water.

"Car needs to be picked up as soon as possible or within two weeks PLEASE!" he wrote.

"I am pricing it very fairly in order to have a quick sale, I had my fun for two years and now the next fellow collector can enjoy it."

More than 40 people bid on the car. Similar models are listed for more than $50,000 on other websites

According to a sales flier from the time the vehicles were made, Amphicars sported a 43 hp, 4-cylinder engine, got 32 mpg on the road and 1 1/2 mpg in the water.

The doors were sealed using rubber strips "like the seal on a refrigerator" and joints were filled with lead for a tighter fit, according to the eBay listing.

About 14 inches of the car would sit above the water when the vehicle was submerged, the listing said.

The car is great in the snow, too, according to the seller.

"With 10 inches of ground clearance, a totally flat bottom and narrow rear wheels Amphicar has tremendous traction and ability," he wrote, saying it does better in blizzards than some larger trucks.

Despite the cult following, Amphicar never became popular — which the seller blames on a lack of marketing.

"The marketing was all wrong, in fact Amphicar didn't employ marketing staff, only engineers," he wrote in the listing.

President Johnson used to drive the same color Amphicar around a pond on his property in Texas — and would joke with unsuspecting riders when he drove it into the water, according to the National Park Service. 

The former secretary of health, Joseph Califano Jr., recalled a time when the president shouted "the brakes don't work!...we're going under!" before it went into the water.

"The car splashed into the water. I started to get out. Just then the car leveled and I realized we were in a Amphicar. The President laughed," he told a National Park Service  history site.

According to the History Channel, four of the machines crossed the English Channel in seven hours on Sept. 17, 1965, to get to the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.

The Amphicar was built in Germany between 1961 and 1968 and marketed to American drivers, according to a website devoted to the car's history and its collectors.

Fewer than 4,000 of the amphibious convertibles were built, and they were outfitted with nylon propellers. The car came in four colors.

The rides could hit a top speed of 7 mph in the water and 70 mph on land, and when it was in the water, the front wheels acted as rudders, according to the Amphicar website.

In 2007, an article in Time magazine declared the Amphicar one of the worst cars of all time in part because they were not "particularly watertight."