WaterCar Panther Ready for Production

Next time you see a Jeep pulling a water skier, it might just be a WaterCar Panther.

You’re on the lake and you see what appears to be a Jeep skimming across the water, maybe pulling a water skier or two. No, you haven’t had one too many mai tais, it’s just WaterCar’s new fast amphibian, the Panther.

For 13 years, Dave March and the folks at his Southern California body shop have dreamed about building and selling amphibious cars.

The company built a couple of prototypes, obtained 27 patents and had numerous requests to sell its WaterCar Python, which is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest amphibian. But the company always refused, saying it just didn’t have the expertise to assure reliability.

Now, WaterCar is finally ready to start offering a fast amphibian for sale. Only this time, instead of the big, bold and fast Python, it’s launching the Panther, which looks a lot like a Jeep CJ-8. Instead of the Python’s Corvette power, the Panther uses a 3.7-liter Honda V-6.

The advantage of switching from the Python to the Panther is a big reduction in price. Where the Python was estimated to cost $200,000 – if it had ever been put into production – WaterCar is offering the Panther starting at $135,000 for a complete vehicle. While the Python could touch 60 mph on water, the Panther’s top water speed is 44 mph. It’s capable of highway speeds, or more, on land.

The WaterCar Panther can transition from land to on plane in about 15 seconds.

Fred Selby, who handles marketing for WaterCar, said the company is hoping to get 25 orders before it begins production. Selby said the company, an off-shoot of Fountain Valley Bodyworks, in Fountain Valley, Calif., could easily produce 100 Panthers a year. If there is demand for more, the company will need to expand. Is there a market for more?

“We don’t know how big the market is,” Selby said.

The Panther is rear-engine with rear-wheel-drive. Coupled to the Honda engine is a four-speed manual transmission from a VW Microbus and a transfer case designed by WaterCar. Selby said the company has purchased PantherJet, the shuttered maker of the water pump used in the Panther amphibian. The purchase included a stock of jet pumps, but the company could restart production if needed.

The Panther uses a hydraulic system to raise the wheels, which allows the vehicle to plane at about 21 mph. WaterCar says the vehicle can go from land to on plane in about 15 seconds. The vehicle has a knob on the dashboard to activate the jet pump so that it is not turning on land.

WaterCar is hoping to get orders for 25 Panthers before it begins production.

The interior seats four. Right now, there is no plan for air conditioning but it would be relatively easy to add. There is no heat, either. Selby said the company will offer some sort of top, but it might just be a simple bikini-style boat top. Since it’s based on Jeep architecture, it wouldn’t be hard to add an aftermarket road top.

Selby said there is plenty of storage space under the front hood for a pair of golf club bags.

While the Panther is based on the Jeep, WaterCar was careful to alter the brand’s signature grille, including giving is six openings, rather than Jeep’s familiar seven. With so many aftermarket Jeep parts on the market, Selby isn’t expecting any calls from Chrysler’s lawyers.

As is typical of any amphibian, Selby said the Panther is a compromise.

“It will never be the best car or the best boat,” he said. But as with any amphibian, the dual-purpose nature of the vehicle is the sell.

“It’s fun to drive,” Selby said.

The Panther has four seats and a cargo area that can easily swallow a couple of bags of golf clubs.

The 3.7-liter Honda engine produces 300-310 horsepower in a variety of Acura and Honda vehicles. Selby said the company has not done dynamometer tests on the engine in the Panther, so he doesn’t know exactly how much horsepower it’s actually putting out in this application.

Currently, Honda doesn’t sell crate engines, but WaterCar has a source for lightly used engines. Selby said the company is talking to Honda about supplying new engines. Selby said the transmission is from a VW Microbus.

The Panther has a fiberglass hull combined with an epoxy-coated tubular chrome-moly steel frame.

WaterCar will sell the Panther as a completed vehicle, but it might be difficult to title it if built by WaterCar. Or you can take advantage of two other options: a rolling chassis for $73,500 and a “turn-key minus” – essentially a complete vehicle minus the drivetrain for $106,000. The buyer would then complete the vehicle or have a shop do it. While Selby didn’t have any numbers on how much that would cost, he said it would be cheaper than the complete $135,000 vehicle from WaterCar. The rolling chassis or turn-key minus allows the Panther to be licensed as a kit car.

“You’re going to save money if you’re going to do it yourself,” Selby said.

Panther Specifications

Weight: 2,950 pounds

Height: 69″ windshield up; 51″ windshield down; 44″ windshield down, wheels retracted

Length: 180″

Width: 72″

Ground clearance: 10”

Vehicle layout: Rear engine, rear-wheel drive

Chassis: Fiberglass hull with epoxy-coated tubular chromoly steel frame

Flotation: 32 cubic feet of U.S. Coast Guard-approved closed cell foam

Interior: Marine-grade vinyl off-road seats

Water Speed: 44 mph

Land Speed: 80+ mph

Passengers: 4

Payload: 700 pounds

Engine: Honda 3.7 liter V-6

Transmission: 4-speed manual

Marine Propulsion: Panther Jet

Tire Size: 30X9.50R15

Brakes: Four-wheel disc

Wheel Retraction: Hydraulic

Fuel: 91 Octane

Cooling System: Closed with marine heat exchanger

Comments

  1. Like to know the cost of this car/boat/

    1. Dwight,
      Prices range from the mid-70s to $135,000 for a finished vehicle. Because the vehicle is not certified for sale as a production vehicle, if you want to use it on U.S. roads, you’ll want to go the route of buying one and either finishing it yourself or hiring a shop to do the work. Because of those factors, you should be able to build one for less than WaterCar’s $135,000 finished price.

  2. Can you send be a few Brocheurs please I have buyers and can you make it right hand drive ?

    1. FastAmphibians is the enthusiasts site for amphibians such as the WaterCar Panther. You can find contact information for WaterCar at http://watercar.com. Please let them know that I sent you to them.

  3. will you be publically traded where I could buy stock shares?

    1. FastAmphibians is the enthusiasts site for amphibians such as the WaterCar Panther. You can find contact information for WaterCar at http://watercar.com. Please tell them that I sent you to them.

  4. How do I buy one

  5. I would like to know how much it will cost and when will it be for sale.

    Ed Ewing

    1. Ed, The cost is $73,000 to $135,000, depending on the level of completion of the vehicle you buy. The least-expensive way to buy one of their vehicles is to go with one of the unfinished versions, then either complete it yourself or have someone do it for you.
      As for availability, they are taking orders, but I’m not sure when they will actually start production. Should be soon.

  6. Email me I want one foe my wave runner shop in NJ . Thank s

  7. Is there any way to contact the maker of the watercar panther? I would like to ask him a couple of questions about the amazing watercar!!

    Thanks, Riley

  8. Hi do u have distributor in philippines!? If none how can i buy? Thanks

    1. April,
      You have found http://FastAmphibians.com, the enthusiasts’ site for fast amphibians such as the WaterCar Panther. WaterCar is not planning on adding distributors right now. They have a very limited production plan, at least initially. Buyers are responsible for picking up their vehicles from the factory.

  9. Hi. It’s amazing to see the efforts put buy u guys to creat this wonderful machine..hats off. Being in to the marine constructions business I really knw how big this creation will make wonders.
    I Wuld really like to buy one of this .
    Can u guys get back to me on my mail so tht we can figure it out how to go about it.
    Thanks ..
    Nimil.

    1. Nimil, you need to contact WaterCar at info@water.car.com. I’m sure they would be happy to hear from you. Please tell them that I sent you to them.
      - Bryan Laviolette, founder and editor of FastAmphibians.com

  10. what is the price of this water car and when it available in India

    1. Umesh,
      A completed Panther is $135,000 in U.S. dollars. Unfortunately, their distribution network essentially consists of their factory parking lot. It’s a small company, basically a body shop that has entered the kit car business. They will sell you one, but you will be responsible for getting the vehicle to India.
      Could that change in the future? Sure, but I would think that international dealers might be a long way down the road.

  11. South Africa
    will I be able to get a licence for road and see in South Africa.
    How long is waiting list for orders.
    Regards
    Hentie

    1. Hentie,
      Are you talking about the WaterCar Panther or the Gibbs Quadski? On both, you would have to check the laws in your country. I can’t say whether you will be able to license it for the road. Water shouldn’t be a problem.

  12. Please make contact very interested in purchase of your vehicle regards Neil Wallace

    1. Neil,
      You’ve found FastAmphibians.com, the enthusiast’s website for fast amphibians such as the WaterCar Panther. You need to contact WaterCar directly at info@watercar.com. Or you can visit their website at watercar.com. If you contact them, please let them know that I sent you to them.

Leave a Reply


Connect with Us

Facebook Twitter

Subscribe