We kept the opening shot for this piece deliberately unrevealing, because this is not at all what you were imagining when picturing the world’s fastest amphibious car – or so the company that makes it claims. However, the WaterCar Panther is just that, and it’s also available for order, after “fourteen years, countless successes and failures, 27 patents, and untold labor hours,” as we're told by the company.
Now, while the design may be reminiscent of a Jeep Wrangler (with a widebody kit), probably even borrowing a few design elements (and possibly the actual headlights and rear lights), the Panther rides on a bespoke “light weight chromyl chassis” which “is engineered to integrate into the composite hull using cutting edge epoxy adhesion technology,” in order to create the “hull/body” along with the big fiberglass bits which go on last.
That sounds like trick stuff, and the choice of engines is a very interesting yet very understandable one, as well: a Honda-sourced 3.7-liter V6 unit, which serves a number of purposes, including being used as an outboard motor. It makes around 250 hp, and drives either the rear wheels or the patented “Panther Jet” water propulsion system – the switch is made via a (four-speed manual!) gearbox-mounted transfer case.
Performance should not be at all sluggish, as the Panther isn’t really a heavyweight, sliding under the 3000 lbs (1360 kg) mark. It comes with two top speeds, reaching 80+ mph (128+ km/h) on land and a very impressive 44 mph (70.5 km/h) while in boat mode, when the wheels actually retract (in around 15 seconds). In case they haven’t called it boat mode yet, they should, because it just works, and in the spirit of WaterCar’s bikini-filled promo video (don’t worry, you can watch it after the jump), imagine telling your female companion to brace herself for boat mode – it will make you look like some sort of cool futuristic boat captain/Transformer.
Sadly, they have not released any pricing information for the Panther. Until they do let us know, a competition has been set up on Facebook, giving you the chance to win $1,000 cash. Their question is “What would you do with your Panther?” (a wise choice of big cat species; they could have gotten it wrong here…no examples). Now we advise you to watch the official promo below, just to get into the mindset of the amphibious vehicle’s creators, and try to guess what they would want to hear.
Price Update: The Panther can be had in three different forms. On the more affordable end of the scale, you can get a rolling chassis complete with hull/body and everything except the engine, gearbox and its ancillaries, wiring and some of the accessories, for $76,000.
If you want it fully completed, only requiring you to turn the key and go, then you’ll have to shell out $135,000, the more expensive hassle-free option – there is also an in-between version, costing $106,000 which adds components like an exhaust, and many of the accessories missing in the stripped out basic version (dials, lights, steering wheel, seats and doors).
By Andrei Nedelea