WaterCar: Big, Fast Fun
But he wanted to combine his passions for both into one vehicle — an amphibious car.
Today, the body shop, at 70,000 square feet is one of the largest anywhere, and March is devoting more of his time to WaterCar, which has plans to build two amphibious vehicles.
First is the Python, a monster with a Corvette motor that pushes the thing to 58 mph on the water, allowing WaterCar to claim that it builds the fastest production amphibious car on the market.
The other is the Gator, a Jeep Wrangler look-alike that is designed for low-speed water activities.
Fred Selby, who handles marketing for WaterCar, said the company started six years ago with its first attempt at an amphibian based on a previous-generation Chevy Camaro. But the Camaro didn’t ride well on the water because it sat so low, so March went back to the drawing board.
Next, they tried a Jeep Wrangler CJ-8, which was capable of 52 mph on water, but the 14-foot rig didn’t feel good.
“We thought, ‘this is cool, but not safe,’ ” Selby said.
Contact WaterCar on the Web at www.watercar.com or e-mail Info@WaterCar.com.So for the third vehicle, they used a full-size pickup truck body for inspiration. Finally, they had the ride characteristics they were looking for.
“You think you’re in a boat,” Selby said.
The end result is an amphibian with a hood shaped like a Dodge Ram, a horizontal-bar grille giving the front end the appearance of a Chevrolet Malibu, combined with a back end that suggests Corvette. But at about 20 feet long and with no pickup truck bed, there is also a resemblance in the shape to a big 1990s Bentley.
The Python is designed to accept a variety of Corvette motors, giving the vehicle between 400 and 700 horsepower.
The Python has retractable wheels, allowing it to hit a top speed of 58 mph on water. The Gator is a low-speed amphibian and is limited to 8 mph on the water. They both use a water jet to provide thrust.
WaterCar plans to sell the Gator as a kit and the Python as a “turn-key minus” –Â industry lingo for a complete chassis without a drivetrain — to avoid federal new vehicle regulations.
“To take on the government is too much,” Selby said. “We’re small. “We’re just a couple of guys here.”
Selby said the company will begin production once it has enough orders.
If you buy one of WaterCar’s products, you will have to put it together yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. Selby said the company is looking for a small number of companies to do the final build for customers.
WaterCar’s Python chassis costs $170,000. Add $30,000-$50,000 for the engine and transmission and the cost of putting it all together. Buyers have to supply their own Corvette engine and a special manual transmission from a designated supplier.
The two-door Python’s engine is mounted in the rear. It seats four to five, depending on configuration. The company is working on a removable hardtop.
The Gator kit is significantly cheaper since it is not designed for high-speed use. The basic kit costs $29,500.
The Gator is designed to use a Volkswagen Beetle chassis and engine. WaterCar says a completed car will cost anywhere from $40,000-$50,000.
Gators are rear-engine and seat four. Many of the body parts are interchangeable with Jeeps, so Gator owners could tap the vast network of Jeep outfitters for specialized parts, including tops.
Because the vehicles are built as kits, WaterCar is not required to have airbags or to do crash testing. The vehicles do have seatbelts.
So far, the company has built four prototype Pythons and six prototype Gators, plus the original Camaro concept.
The company is prepared to build to the demand for the vehicles, Selby said. He said the company will probably need a new facility when it goes into full-scale production.