BMW's S1000 RR has contributed its 175-horsepower four-cylinder motor to the oddest vehicle yet, built to combine land and marine travel. It's called the Gibbs Quadski, and it's an amphibious ATV, which can do 45 mph on land and water, with an apparently seamless transition between the two environments.
Lest your mind run ahead on that, Kiwi founder Alan Gibbs must be thinking of a military contract somewhere down the line, so that border guards and drug-interdiction officers can have a decent chance to catch the kind of people who will have $40,000 to spare.
Gibbs made his first amphibious car, the Aquada, in 2003, and he's been developing the Quadski for the better part of 20 years. The first year's production is estimated at 1,000 examples. Power comes from the aforementioned BMW engine that pumps out 175 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. Output is limited to 80 hp on land, while a six-speed automatic gearbox powers it through the twisties and inclines. Sounds like some hotrodding applications are next.
The top speed is limited to 45 mph on land and water – not bad for a 1,300-pound quad that’s 10-feet-long – and the Quadski will keep going for quite some time with its standard 15-gallon fuel tank. The weight suggests you'd better keep it upright though, or have a passenger to help right it, if necessary.
The transition between surfaces appears to be seaml;ess, with twin servomotors raising and dropping the wheels in five seconds when the fiberglass hull hits the water. Gibbs claims the Quadski can go into a lake at speed and continue forward with little delay.
Besides the decades of historical attempts at amphibious cars (the WW2 Jeep and VW Schwimmerwagen and the 1960s Amphicar), consumer demand has never been particularly high. But that hasn’t stopped Gibbs from dropping an estimated $200 million into the Quadski’s development. Production will take place at a facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where the factory and its 100 employees will pump out 20 quads per day.
Alan Gibbs is a former diplomat from New Zealand who’s been creating amphibious cars for years beginning with the 2003 Aquada. Rover, who supplied the engine, went out of business, and safety regulations bogged production. It did set a record when Richard Branson set a speed record crossing the English Channel.
Gibbs is also working on the Phibian, a 30-foot long, 6.5-ton amphibious vehicle, and the Humdinga, a 22-foot, 3.5-ton model. Both are intended for the military and first responders, and Gibbs is seeking partners for production (hopefully Uncle Sam, no doubt).
Of the Quadski, Gibbs said, “We’ll respond to how the market develops. We wouldn’t be doing it without being very confident people will love them.” The first batch of Quadskis will go on sale sometime in mid-November through about 20 dealerships concentrated in the Midwest, New York, Texas, and the southeast U.S.––Paul Duchene
Want to see how it works? Check out this video:
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