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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Floating luxury bus anyone?

I can not tell whether this is real or a joke. It could very easily be both of course.

Fuss has recently been made about an amphibious sports car, which seems genuine enough, if rather extravagant. But this, linked to by BoingBoing, is an amphibious bus, and is strictly for the luxury end of the bus market:

John and Julie Giljam, a married couple from South Carolina, created a first-class motor coach that doubles as a yacht.

The Terra Wind is an amphibious 42 ½ foot motor home. The RV can cruise down the highway at 80 mph, and when it hits water it becomes a yacht … with just a few maneuvers.

What it looks like when in water is a drowning bus caught in a flood. I seriously wonder how seaworthy it is. So how well is it doing?

The Giljams said there has been a lot of interest in the amphibious motor home. They plan to show it off at boat shows, RV shows and yacht shows.

Oh dear. “A lot of interest.” They “plan” to show it off at shows. This is salespeak for no one wants to buy the bloody thing. If that is so I am not surprised. As I understand it, boats are heavy, because they have to be strong enough to keep water out, and because the water can support them even though they are very heavy. They just have to be able to slide along in it. Vehicles are not so heavy, because they have to be dragged about on roads by an engine, with no water to prop them up as they go. Vehicles have to be self-supporting. A floating sports car is just about plausible. A floating bus? Forget it. The physics is, I feel, similar to the physics that says you can have insects the size of insects, but you can’t have them the size of elephants, like in very bad Michael Caine movies.

But what if I’m wrong? The great thing about capitalism is that barking bonkers people like the Giljams are allowed to have a go at things like this, and can try to prove that they aren’t so barking bonkers after all. Maybe my physics is all up the spout. Maybe they are using some new space age material for the bottom of the bus which combines being strong with being very light. Maybe … who knows? Maybe people will love the idea of travelling in it so much that they will queue up like mad things for the tickets, no matter how expensive they are.

Not long ago I was reading about the people who built the first steam engines, and that gave me a lively sense of how possible impossible gadgets can sometimes prove themselves to be.

I wish the Giljams luck.

And by the way, I’ve just noticed that this is the four thousandth Samizdata entry. How about that!

20 comments to Floating luxury bus anyone?

  • The only problem with it is that I can’t see where one can bar-b-q.

  • Ryan Waxx

    Ah, those car dealers are missing the boat, so to speak.

    The real place for a commercial amphibious vehicle would be the RV market.

    But then, it would have to be REALLY bouyant, to deal with the greater weight.

  • I always wanted to drive around the world.

  • Ryan Waxx

    I hope that was tongue-in-cheek, as being amphibious is a LONG way from being deep-sea worthy.

  • Eamon Brennan

    Is it just me or does that lake shot owe more to photoshop technology than anything else.


  • It’s not just you. The spray looks too white. The wake looks suspicious. Hmm.

  • Maybe if I put snow tires on it I could drive it across the polar ice cap to Murmansk and head down to the ice-free coastal waters of Europe 🙂

  • Dale Amon

    The Americans at Omaha beach had a quite large amphibious vehicle. I’ve seen photos of it on french country roads and had a toy one as a child. At the very least it had a minibus capacity.

    Don’t think it was exactly made for Interstates though.

  • Kevin

    For a number of years we’ve had amphibious bus tours in Ottawa.

    The bus is fine in flat water, but obviously not fit for the open seas.

  • Damn, Kevin beat me to it. Baltimore also has an amphibious bus service called Ride the Ducks using refurbished DUKWs. This is largely because the Inner Harbor separates most of the tourist areas in Baltimore, which makes ferry services viable even though there’s no parts of the city that are technically inaccessable to ground traffic.

  • Brian Micklethwait

    I seem to recall already having done a post here some while ago about DUKWs, and the various cities of the world where DUKWs swim and waddle about all checked in, London being one of these cities.

    I.e., people, we’ve covered sticking wheels on boats. This post is about making a bus float, which is an entirely different proposition.

    Let’s all stay on message.

  • Joe

    They are in the wrong country… It would be perfect for those European camp sites that always seem to get flooded.

  • D Anghelone

    That’s a UPS truck taking a shortcut to Brooklyn.

  • Kevin

    Brian, the amphibus that runs tours in Ottawa is not a boat with wheels on it. It is a former school bus modified to float (more of a raft than a boat).

    I’ve been in it, and I assure you the interior is very much an old school bus. They placed bouyant material under the floor to float it, and then added an outboard motor on the back, as well as front wheel drive so that it can drive back up a boat ramp.

    It’s main problem in my view is that it is probably not very stable. It is still very heavy for a boat, sits very low in the water I think could be easily capsized. But this is not much of a problem as long as it stays in flat water.

  • Sits low and has a high center of gravity. Unless the aquabus had pontoons (like a trimaran), even the mild waves of coastal waters would be treacherous. The sportscar/speedboat is the thing for saltwater boating, although like any small boat its range is limited. For $250,000 USD I could get a bigger boat with a bigger gas tank.

    On my budget I’d have to settle for somethig like this.

  • Thaddius T. Spreckels III

    There is no way a motorhome can be a boat. It defies the very laws of God and physics! I declare this a humbug.

  • Ryan Waxx

    I re-read my first comment and discovered a rather serious error.

    I meant to say the SUV market would be the place for an amphibious consumer vehicle… not the RV market.

  • Waterborne SUVs…that should get Arianna Huffington’s attention.

  • nordic

    Last night on the American TV show monster garage:


    Pontoon boat-school bus transformation. I didn’t stay up late enough to see if it floated.

  • bob

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