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Gibbs Quadski: A Modern Amphibious Vehicle

Exciting and fast are not the words that come to mind when I hear “amphibious vehicle”. But Gibbs Sports Amphibians begs to differ.

DUK-W amphibious assault craft converted for use as a tourist bus (Credit: Iridescent/Wikipedia)

DUK-W amphibious assault craft converted for use as a tourist bus (Credit: Iridescent/Wikipedia)

If you have ever taken a Duck Tour, seen one of those hulking military amphibious assault-craft-turned-tour-bus or watched a World War II movie, you probably have a similar impression. Amphibious cars in the 1960’s, such as the famous Amphicar, were similarly slow and unweildy on both land and water.

Amphicar photographed in Stuttgart 2005 (Credit: Enslin/Wikipedia)

Amphicar photographed in Stuttgart 2005 (Credit: Enslin/Wikipedia)

Given the technologies that were available at the time, this attempts at making purposeful and recreational craft that could travel in two completely different environments were breakthroughs.

The Gibbs Quadski on land (Credit: Gibbs Sports Amphibians)

The Gibbs Quadski on land (Credit: Gibbs Sports Amphibians)

On the other hand, the Gibbs Quadski is designed to be fast on the ground and across a lake. With a 140 horsepower four-cylinder 1300 cc BMW motorcycle engine, the Quadski boasts a top speed of 45 mph on either surface and requires only four to five seconds to transition between them. It looks a lot like a typical ATV, albeit larger overall, and a hull like a Jet Ski or Sea-Doo.

The best (or perhaps coolest) part of the design is the suspension. When it comes time to enter the water, the press of a button initiates servo motors in the Quadski to fold its wheels up above the waterline. This is, of course, the key to its speed on the water because it eliminates all the drag from having bulky tires in the way. Watching it do its thing is reminiscent of a Q creation in a James Bond movie or the famous land-to-sea transition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

As with many combo devices, the Quadski has its compromises. Although 45 mph is nothing to sneeze at, it still isn’t as fast as a dedicated ATV (and is currently only available in two-wheel drive) or personal watercraft. In land mode, it is larger than a normal ATV and will not be able to traverse narrow trails as easily. Finally, the cost is equivalent to a nicely-appointed sports sedan or three to four regular ATVs. Hopefully, that will come down considerably over time.

Would this be your ultimate recreational vehicle or just a curiosity?

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