Speeding along to work - over land and sea

By Bryan Laviolette

The Gibbs Aquada is capable of nearly 55km/h on water. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Gibbs Aquada is capable of nearly 55km/h on water. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Fancy cutting that commute time? How about a car that turns into a boat? Yours for under $360,000.

Twelve years ago, Kiwi entrepreneur Alan Gibbs built more than 30 sports cars that could transform into boats at the push of a button - then hid them in a garage.

The Gibbs Aquada - an amphibious car - had a high-profile launch at London's Royal Victoria Docks in 2003, and was used by Sir Richard Branson in a record-breaking crossing of the English Channel in 2004.

But attempts to take the cars to market came to nothing. Now, about 20 of the cars are for sale. Gibbs chairman Neil Jenkins said the cars will sell for $359,000 - possibly a fraction of their true value as they are the only cars ever built that can travel at high speed on both land and water.

The three-seater Aquada can do more than 160km/h on land. It can drive into the water, retract its wheels in as little as 4 seconds and can reach speeds of nearly 55km/h as a boat.

Alan Gibbs, who made a fortune in a car dealership and other businesses, told the Herald in 2012 he had decided to buy all the cars back. He kept them in a giant garage.

Gibbs executives have always said the company does not want to be in the business of building products. Instead, it would rather develop the technology and license it to established manufacturers.

It views vehicles such as the Quadski, Humdinga and Aquada as proofs of concept designed to demonstrate the technology and the prove the public's interest in it.

Buyers of the limited number of available Aquadas will get a warranty and Gibbs has parts on hand to maintain the vehicles for the next 20 years, Jenkins said. They will be sold "ex works," meaning they will be delivered at Gibbs' headquarters in England. The company plans to sell them first come, first served.

- Herald on Sunday

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