The Amphibious ‘Thing’
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While the term “land yacht” has been used to describe a rather opulently equipped RV, there was a time when it could be taken quite literally. In the summer of ’73, the Waterland Corp., Belmont, Calif., built the world’s first amphibious motorhome, nicknamed “The Thing.”
Mechanically, the craft sported all the requisite accouterments for highway cruising — essentially, wheels and tires and lights front and rear, er, fore and aft. Once lakeside, however, you just drove into the water, and pushed a button to lower the outdrive. Once in the water, all the operator had to do was shift the automatic transmission into neutral, unlock the wheel mechanisms with a second key, and monitor a series of switches and indicator lights on the dashboard as the front wheels were positioned correctly, the front and rear wheels tucked into ports and the wheel openings were covered by hatches. Power for the outdrive was from the same 392-CID V-8 that powered the wheels.
Whether The Thing ever went into production isn’t known; with an anticipated $35,000 price tag, it cost more than a comparably equipped motorhome and boat of the era together.