- Ben Carlin's route around the world in 'Half Safe'

What amphibious vehicle would take you round the world?

5w ago


I've been surfing the net looking for suitable alternatives to the Ford GPA Jeep that Ben Carlin drove and sailed around the world. Read about his journey here, if you missed it: drivetribe.com/p/around-the-world-by-amphibious-COxDLVUWRtCvNqysgwr8EA?iid=KnPncv5sSsuNORP7ooimRA Here are just a few of the possibilities I came across.


Looks like a Triumph Herald but runs on water. This is one of two that crossed the English Channel, it's owned by my friend Jane at JHW Classics who hire cars to the film and TV industry, not available for private hire I'm afraid. She tells me, of the two that crossed the channel, this one lost power just short of the French coast and was towed by the other for the final few hundred yards. Commemorative oars mounted on the luggage rack mark the occasion.

If it crossed the English Channel then why not the Atlantic? Fuel capacity would be the downfall, unless outrigger fuel tanks could be constructed as Ben Carlin did with his Jeep. I wonder, had he set off a few years later, if he might have chosen one of these instead? It does also mean lugging those fuel tanks with you on a roof rack while driving the overland sections on a round the world traverse though.

Rinspeed Squba

I've loved the Squba since Rinspeed first released it as a concept car back in 2008. I love the Lotus Elise looks and its sink or swim approach to the water; travel above the water or, pop on the integral scuba masks, turn on your air supply and dive below the surface.

So how would this work on a circumnavigation of the globe? It's not as impractical as it first seems, the subaqua capabilities could be quite handy. Imagine for example a huge storm whips up, rather than being battered by wind, rain and high seas simply dive below the surface until things calm down up top. It's electric and while there are no charging points at sea there is plenty of wind, solar and sea power that could be harnessed to keep the batteries topped up. Water powered turbines attached to the wheels perhaps? There's not much space on the body for solar panels but on a calm day an array of flexi-panels could be unfurled across the ocean. Wind turbines too could prove useful and why not a sail to harness some of that power more directly, even better, a solar sail? On the downside you'd get very wet and probably die from exposure on such a long journey but you'd do it in James Bond style and with none of the claustrophobia associated with being trapped in a vehicle underwater. I actually think with a little development we could be on to a winner here.

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Video courtesy Rinspeed

Gibbs Aquada

Another sporty amphicar, although this one stays on top of the water. With a top speed on road of 100mph and 30knots on water it's the quickest of the line up. Power comes from a rover K series petrol engine though which brings us back to the fuel capacity issue. It would be the ideal car for someone living in the Caribbean though, perfect for island hopping!


Looks like a possibility, good load carrying space for fuel tanks and living accommodation. Made by Searoader, the same folks responsible for the Top Gear amphibious vehicles ....one of which just about made it across the channel, the Atlantic is a lot larger though and that exhaust looks like it would be swamped by a big wave.

Lamborghini Countach

Oh yes they did! More amphibious lunacy from the team that brought you the Top Gear amphibious, or should that be semi-amphibious, cars. Although circumnavigating the globe in a Countach would be super cool, it's impractical for the journey on every level - I just thought you'd like to see it!

Gibbs Humdinga

Ok, getting a bit more practical here; enough space for a cabin with a bed, toilet and cooker, plus storage. Powered by a marine diesel engine, so not the cleanest. It would still necessitate carrying extra fuel but I can see how that could work with this frame, a couple of outriggers, filled with fuel, which could be raised to roof rack position on hydraulic arms when on dry land. The extra fuel tanks would need to be empty, or near empty, when travelling on land or I fear it would make the vehicle top heavy. not bad ground clearance for off-road driving on land either!

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Video Courtesy of Gibbs

(TVR) Scamander

Not technically a TVR but designed by ex-TVR owner Peter Wheeler, and without doubt his most bonkers creation! Wheeler completed the first prototype of the Scamander before he passed away. Thankfully his wife and a team of engineers sought to complete the project following his death. The 300hp turbocharged V6 is capable of an on road 0-60mph of around 8 seconds, not too shabby for a futuristic land and sea, load carrying tractor. On water drive comes from an impeller and rear mounted propeller, no speed figures are given for on water but @Harry Metcalfe doesn't seem to be moving too quick in the below video (he hits the water at 11.41). It looks great but I'm discounting it for a round the world journey; the engine air intakes sit 5 feet off the ground, fine for pootling around the inland waterways but big waves would crash straight down there on an ocean voyage. Then there's the noise, difficult to live with over long distances and finally, I am a little concerned that an amorous whale may try and mate with it!

Avtoros Shaman

Plenty of room on board for living accommodation and it already has huge fuel tanks. It's powered by a 146hp Iveco 3 litre 4 cylinder turbo diesel and has a whopping 264 litre fuel tank. The trouble is though, it only does 11 miles to the gallon, not enough for an ocean crossing! What's more the top speed is just 44mph on land, so it would be a slow, very costly trip. You won't pick those tyres up in the local Kwik-fit either!

Nouvoyage Limousine Tender 33

The Nouvoyage would transport you round the world in opulent style. The long wheelbase 10m version looks like it would struggle over rough terrain but there are also 8 or 9m versions available that would be more suited to the job. Power at sea comes from a 530hp Yanmar marine diesel coupled with 2 x Hamilton jet drives. The land drive line is made up of 4 Remy electric motors giving 130hp. The result is a respectable (for an amphibious vehicle) 88mph on land and 28 knots over water. Options include a galley and head, that's a kitchen and toilet to you landlubbers. There's plenty of space for comfortable sleeping quarters and storage too. It's almost perfect, there's just one problem, the price tag of $2 to $3.5 million!

Tesla Model S

No, not seriously, but as this video proves the model S floats and propels itself through water fairly well! Elon Musk has confirmed that the Tesla's wheels are capable of propelling it through water without damaging the batteries or drive units which are all sealed. He did also add that he didn't recommend it but it could be driven like a boat 'for short periods of time'.

What would you choose?

My money no object choice would be a shorter wheelbase, all electric version of the Nouvoyage. Not just because of the comfort level afforded for long distance travel but also because it has the most boat like streamlining, making for a much smoother passage through water. Since I don't have a spare £3million, my next choice would be an electrified version of the Humdinga, a combination of the utilitarian Humdinga styling with the Squba's electric drives (or larger versions there of).

I'd love to hear your suggestions! I've discounted military vehicles because they are generally designed only for short crossings and tend to have big thirsty engines but if you can think of any that would fit the bill do let me know.