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Gibbs Aquada Amphibious Car

Michael Marsh
From the Print Edition:
Tyson vs. King, Jan/Feb 04

You're pushing the needle close to 100 miles per hour and your car is going like a bird and a bomb, but the motorcycle you suspect carries a Russian agent is still in your rearview mirror. It's time to lose him for good. You step on the gas and head for the docks. Minutes later, you gun your car into the water, push a button and the wheels retract, and in seconds you're racing across the waves -- the Russian agent is left on the shore in astonishment.

A scene from a James Bond movie in a car straight from Q's workshop? No, it's the work of Alan Gibbs, a New Zealand entrepreneur, and his team of 70 engineers and designers at Gibbs Technologies Ltd., in England. Still, when you sit behind the wheel of the first legal road car capable of traveling with speed on water, expect to feel a little bit like Bond.

The Aquada story began in 1995, when Gibbs built his first amphibious vehicle and started developing and improving High Speed Amphibian (HSA) technology. Eight years and 60 patents later, Gibbs and his partner, Englishman Neil Jenkins, unveiled the Aquada to much curiosity and fanfare on London's River Thames.

A three-seater with the driver in the middle, the Aquada reaches 100 mph on land. It's a two-wheel drive with an automatic transmission and a 2.5 liter, V6-K series 175 horsepower engine that runs on unleaded fuel. The car's frame is aluminum, with a glass reinforced composite shell. The convertible has no doors -- this prevents leaks -- so passengers must climb into the car.

Once the car is in the water, it takes the push of a button and about 10 seconds for it to become a boat. After this happens, the accelerator acts as a throttle and the Aquada can reach up to 30 mph, more than enough to pull a water skier.

The Aquada costs $250,000 and only 100 are planned to be delivered by autumn. But if you're a man who knows his James Bond, you know that no expense should be spared when it comes to motoring, especially when you're trying to shake the enemy or land a beautiful double agent.

Visit www.aquada.co.uk.

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