WaterCar Panther: An Amphibious Vehicle

WaterCar's Panther on the water

An amphibious vehicle (or simply amphibian), is a vehicle that is a means of transport, viable on land as well as on (or under) water. WaterCar's new Panther is such type of vehicle. It is the world's fastest amphibious vehicle, this car can run on land, sand and water, and can switch between those modes in just 15 seconds.  The Panther is based on the CJ8 Scrambler jeep, but with custom modifications by the Watercar guys.

It's clear that much of the car's design is based on a Jeep, but oddly the motor of choice is a rear-mounted 3.7-liter V-6 from the Acura MDX, sending power through a transaxle on the land and a Panther Jet drive through the water equipped with single overhead camshaft cylinder and 24 valves. It has a top speed on water of 38 knots (44 mph) and can to power to around 80 mph on the street. The wheels are retracted hydraulically in less than 15 seconds, allowing the driver to careen into the water and carry on almost instantaneously as a boat: "Once you enter the water, put the transmission in neutral, pull a knob to engage the jet, push a button to raise the wheels and off you go. Reverse the process when exiting the water," WaterCar says.

available wide range of colors of WaterCar Panther

The vehicle is equipped with a chassis made out of lightweight chromoly steel that fits into a fiberglass haul. Lightweight chromoly steel enhances floatability. According to Brian Dodson, chromoly steel has superior properties of "weldability, formability, strength, ductility and toughness" compared to regular carbon steel,while pricey, solved the Panther's weight problem.

This 3.7-liter engine is a bored and stroked version of the Acura 3.5-liter engine. As this left little clearance between the cylinders, the cast-in iron cylinder liners of the 3.5 liter were replaced by high-silicon aluminum liners. This results in better cooling and tighter piston ring seals. The compact and efficient 3.7-liter engine produces 305 horsepower at 6,300 rpm with special emphasis on mid-range torque giving this VTEC a peak torque of 274 lb-ft (371 Nm) at 4,500 rpm.

The Panther can also run in the Arizona sand dunes

Entering the water can be done at speeds up to 15 mph (24 km/h) if there is no step higher than about six inches (15 cm) and the beach is sufficiently firm. Some spectacular entries and exits from the water appear on the video below. Once in the water, the pilot places the four-speed in neutral, pulls a knob to switch the transfer case over to jet drive, pushes a knob to hydraulically lift the wheels and tires out of the water, and start boating. The entire procedure takes less than 15 seconds.

entry in water by the Panther

Once in the water, the Panther is remarkably stable for a boat that is only 15 ft (4.6 m) in length. It leans a bit in tight turns, but makes the most of the low center of gravity resulting from having both automotive and marine drive systems. This also renders the Panther a bit reluctant to get out of the hole to planing speed, but the amphib appears to handle well at its top speed of nearly 45 mph (72 km/h).

The Panther is pricey, starting at US$76,000 for a "Rolling chassis", $106,000 for a "Turn-key minus" version, and $135,000 for a complete Panther.


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Write by: RC - Thursday, July 4, 2013

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