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2014 Watercar Panther

Those January winter blues are in full swing and dreams of summertime fun and easy livin’ are incessant. Eluding those dreams just got even more impossible when we stumbled upon this amphibious beauty. Half SUV , half boat — the Panther is a completely custom vehicle designed and built by the small California company WaterCar; and it’s our idea of a good time.

The Panther’s obvious main attraction is its ability to transform from a road-going SUV to a seafaring boat within seconds, giving passengers the ultimate go-anywhere capability without huge compromises in either department. WaterCar says the Panther will do an impressive 80-plus mph on the road and 44 mph (38 knots) on the water. It will even tow a wakeboarder or skier at a decent clip.

A rear-mounted Honda 3.7-liter, VTEC V-6 sends power through a proprietary four-speed manual transaxle/transfer case that can switch between powering the rear wheels or the “Panther Jet” water-propulsion system. The Jeep Wrangler -like body is constructed of lightweight fiberglass and features a non-lawsuit-inducing six-slotted grille (seven slots on a real Jeep ), a folding windshield, half-doors, and a roll bar.

Under the bodywork lies a fiberglass V-type hull that allows for the high on-water speeds. Unlike the Titanic, sinking isn’t an issue. The Panther is filled with 32 cubic feet of U.S. Coast Guard-approved closed cell Styrofoam. Holding everything together is a custom chromoly tube chassis that’s impervious to corrosion. Huge hydraulic shocks retract the wheels up and down in second for quick changes between land and water modes.

All told, the WaterCar Panther is one awesome machine that somehow makes regular boating appear boring. Selling for $135,000, the Panther isn’t cheap, but it seems like a deal if life becomes as fun as the video above depicts.

Click past the jump to see another video of the Panther in action

All photos are property of WaterCar inc.



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