The Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen was a spectacularly ugly attempt to create an amphibious SUV. Built by the German manufacturer Herzog in 1979, the Conte Schwimmwagen (literally “floating car”) was based on a Mk1 Ford Granada. There were two engine choices for the Conte Schwimmwagen, a 2.3 litre 6-cylinder with 114 horsepower, or a larger 2.8 litre 6-cylinder which provided 135 horsepower.
Despite the clearly terrible aerodynamics and 5,100 lb (2,340 kg) bulk, the Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen was capable of 100 mph on land. Its speed on the water is unknown.
The engine powered the wheels when on land (obviously), but once in the water the drive was transferred to a propellor at the rear of the Schwimmwagen. To make sure the engine didn’t drown, the air intakes were positioned higher up than on a normal vehicle. Vents were built into the front wings to allow cooling air in. The exhaust was also mounted higher than normal, and exited through the rear, alongside the spare tire.
Herzog built the Conte Schwimmwagen in two different versions. A hardtop version, and a model with a soft top rear roof which could be folded down.
Unfortunately for Herzog, potential buyers had eyes. The production run only lasted a year, during which time an unknown number of Conte Schwimmwagen’s escaped the factory.
Thankfully amphibious cars have moved on a long way since the dark days of the 1970s. Several manufacturers now produce amphibious SUVs which are infinitely more appealing than the Herzog Conte Schwimmwagen. Both the GIBBS Humdinga and the WaterCar Python are two such vehicles. Or if you want to go large, then there’s always the C.A.M.I. Terra Wind.