Maybe we have heard about those cars that can drive through deep bodies of water, but do you know that there was one that could actually swim?
Today, we have many types of pickup trucks with a ventilation system designed to wade through rivers and streams effectively, but back in 1982, an oil pipe manufacturer had gone one step further. He built an ambitious off-road model under the name Amphi-Ranger, which can switch between a truck and a boat with a simple button.
Amphi-Ranger is a 2-wheel drive amphibious SUV produced by a German company named Rheinhauer Maschinen und Armaturenbau (RMA), and although it looks like a Mercedes G-Class model, it actually has an original, like-no-other chassis base.
Many people might be curious about why such an odd car was ever produced, but the RMA’s ambition build an amphibious vehicle and thanks to the experience of making oil and metallurgy pipelines, they made a bet with it. According to the review conducted by 1990 Car Magazine, Amphi-Ranger is a vehicle for the rich who want to experience freedom and fun.
Also based on information from AmphibiousVehicles.net, all of the Amphi-Ranger that once existed were concept versions, suggesting that the car manufacturing process was constantly changing throughout its production life.
As this amphibious SUV will often get soaked because of its constant wading, its main engine and the cooling water tank is completely covered and is mainly cooled from a large fan that draws air through the pipe in the half top of the B column. 3 mm and 4mm aluminum panels are welded to an aluminum ladder frame, encasing everything inside except the suspension, brakes and exhaust pipes system.
Amphi-Ranger’s water pipes are easily recognizable by the buoy-shaped bumpers like in a boat. This goes around and covers the lower half of the car The door is placed above the surrounding barrier, so it is not very easy to climb up into the cabin even for an adult.
There’s a single retractable unit that is responsible for helping the car moving in the water, and the steering can be done by rotating the front wheels, just like what you’d do on land. That said, the performance of an Amphi-Ranger boat is not very impressive. Car Magazine’s review stated that the vehicle’s maximum speed is about 18.4 km/h.
A great advantage of the Amphi-Ranger design is its ability to overcome many types of terrain, from shallow, rocky or unstable roads and other wet terrain types where a standard boat or off-road vehicle will not be able to handle.
The Amphi-Ranger SUV was built with three engines during a decade of production. The 2000SR was first produced in 1985 using a 100-hp 4-cylinder engine, and the 2800SR has a V6 Ford engine, 2.8-liter capacity with 135 horsepower. Later models have a V6 Ford engine, with a capacity of 2.9 liters with 145 horsepower.
Initially, the RMA only offered 2-door models, and then launched the 4-door model. It also uses a 5-speed manual gearbox and Ford’s watch signal board, front and rear differentials provided by Fiat, and a self-made RMA gearbox. At least that’s the specs before Car Magazine’s test with the V6, 2.8-liter capacity.
In order to test the “swimming” ability of Amphi Ranger, Car Magazine brought the car to the Thames River in London. Through a control movement, switching to push and shift gear, the car slowly drive through the water. However, it moves very slowly and makes loud noises. Each time the gear shifts, the car almost stopped, and the sound echoing into the cabin was very uncomfortable.
However, the interior of the car received compliments and was considered to be on par with Range Rover at the same time. In some model, Amphi-Ranger has a sunroof to improve the boat experience for drivers and passengers, so that they wouldn’t feel like floating around in a concealed box.
When bringing the car back to the mainland, the driver must perform a reverse operation to bring the car back to the land mode. At this point, you need to manipulate the gear quickly so that the car doesn’t get stuck or drifts into the river again. Overall, the ability to move both on land and underwater, and the half-boat design of the of this amphibious SUV has received good praises from Car Magazine.
In accordance with the statement on AmphibiousVehicles.net, there were only 90 cars ever produced. The price back in the test day was 96,286 GBP or N99 millions today.