Before modern amphibious cars, like the WaterCar Panther, there was Volkswagen’s Type 166 Schwimmwagen, used extensively in World War II. It’s essentially a four wheel drive vehicle on first gear – reverse gears with some models – that has ZF self-locking differentials on both front and rear axles. Similar to the Kubelwagen, the Schwimmwagen had portal gear rear hubs that gave better ground clearance, while at the same time reducing drive-line torque stresses with their gear reduction at the wheels. Continue reading for two videos and more information.
When crossing water a screw propeller could be lowered down from the rear deck engine cover. When in place a simple coupling provided drive straight from an extension of the engine’s crankshaft. This meant that screw propulsion was only available going forward. For reversing in the water there was the choice of using the standard equipment paddle or running the land drive in reverse, allowing the wheel-rotation to slowly take the vehicle back. The front wheels doubled up as rudders, so steering was done with the steering wheel both on land and on water.