At Auction: Hydrocar and Custom Built Trailer by noted visionary Rick Dobbertin

24. August 2018

A 10-year build at a reported cost in excess of $1,000,000.
Articulated sponsons lower to create a tunnel-hull speedboat.
Powered by an impressive Bill Mitchell Racing 762-HP Merlin engine.
Front-wheel-drive with articulated four-wheel steering system.
Titled as a watercraft by the state of New York.
Custom built trailer included with purchase.
A wonderful prototype display piece with fine engineering.
Go and get it at The Auburn Auction, September 1st

572 cid V-8 engine, 762 HP, four-speed manual Quadzilla 4L80-E transmission, pneumatic suspension, four-wheel power disc brakes

Part Hot Rod, part engineering marvel, part “Back to The Future,” and 100% innovative, the HydroCar is the only amphibious prototype design that actually articulates the vehicle’s shape to morph from a land vehicle to a water craft. This highly engineered original prototype design comes from Rick Dobbertin, who, by the way, also developed a personal submarine and single-handedly redefined Pro Street machines in the mid-1980s, so he’s already broken the mold as far as vehicular innovation and designing in previously uncharted territory. On land, its full-length articulating sponsons (or pontoons) are raised and become the car’s fenders. Upon entering the water, the sponsons are lowered nearly eight inches to transform the car into a tunnel-hulled watercraft within seconds. While fully functional, this prototype is intended for a static display of incredible innovative engineering.

The HydroCar made its debut on the cover of the January 2004 edition of Popular Mechanics, and then went on to appear in Forbes plus two Monster Garage publications. Without doubt, the HydroCar is one of the most innovative automotive projects ever conceived and truly lives in the intersection of fabrication, racing, and innovation – not to look backwards, but to stride forward and break new ground. The central body section of the HydroCar is a space frame and roll bar, built from 304 grade stainless-steel. The frames of the sponsons are marine-grade 5086 aluminum, along with much of the hand-formed body work. You might recognize 2006 Corvette Velocity Yellow as the exterior finish. All glass is PGW Solex laminated safety glass. The interior is incredible, with 45 control switches, 16 LED monitoring systems, and 25 VDO gauges, while three hydraulic levers control the up and down movement of the sponsons, axles, and wheel-well doors. Over a mile of dedicated wiring was used, and there are 450 feet of hoses onboard along with 595 custom powder-coated parts on the vehicle.

The HydroCar is powered by a fully dyno-tuned World/Merlin all-aluminum, roller-cam, 572 cubic-inch Chevrolet engine, producing 762 horsepower. It is fully tricked out and chromed in true show-car tradition. The MSD engine electronics include a billet marine distributor, 7-ML-2 controller, three-HP starter, and 160-amp alternator. Power is transmitted through a full-manual Quadzilla 4L80-E four-speed racing automatic transmission specifically built for the HydroCar by Performance Automotive & Transmission Center. The exhaust system begins with JBA stainless-steel headers, connected to dual three-inch stainless-steel exhaust tubes. Twin SuperTrapp stainless-steel racing mufflers let you hear each and every one of those 762 horses generated by the 572 Merlin engine.

Behind the transmission resides an Atlas fully gear-driven transfer case splitting the power to the front wheels for land mode or to the prop in water mode. Both front and rear axles are supported by three Firestone Ride-Rite air bags on the top for suspension during land use, and two air bags on the bottoms to raise them in water mode. The brakes are Stainless-Steel Brake Corporation’s Elite aluminum four-piston calipers clamping onto plated and vented rotors on all four corners. Water propulsion is handled by the 750-Horsepower-Upgraded version of the ASD-6 Arneson Surface Drive, and the propeller is a Rollo 6-blade stainless-steel unit.

If you’ve always been attracted to special vehicles, prototypes, cutting-edge technology, and highly engineered customs, consider owning a true one-of-a-kind amphibious prototype vehicle that would be a showpiece for any interesting collection.

Images: Courtesy of Worldwide Auctioneers


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