Lyndon Johnson Had An Amphibious Car, Didn't You?

By | February 14, 2019

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President Lyndon B. Johnson loved his amphibious car. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Do we need an amphibious car? Lyndon Johnson thought so. President Lyndon B. Johnson was one of a relatively few people who owned an Amphicar, a seaworthy automobile that was produced in West Germany from 1961-65, and sold through 1968.

The Amphicar is a footnote in the history of the auto industry -- mainly for the reason that its utility was debatable. Hans Trippel and his company, Quandt Group, succeeded in making a car that could be driven off of a road and into or across a body of water. But how often was this feature needed?

Lyndon Johnson, one of the great practical jokers the Oval Office has ever seen, felt it was actually needed on several occasions. When the 36th President of the United States invited guests to his Texas ranch, he loved to pile them into this unusual-looking car, without telling them of its amphibious capabilities, and take them on a tour of the ranch. As they would start down a steep incline toward a lake, Johnson would start yelling about brake problems and send the vehicle straight into the water as his terrified guests cried, screamed, and prayed. 

What Was The Amphibious Car?

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A German-made Amphicar. Source: (Photo by Joseph Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

As the name suggests, amphibious cars were like traditional motor cars, but with a twist. They could convert to a motorboat. The Amphicar Model 770, designed by the German engineer Hans Trippel, was first unveiled at the New York Auto Show in 1961 and promised to revolutionize travel. But that never happened.