The Ultimate Convertible
A zippy little car-boat-hydroplane from some serious propellerheads.
by Photographs courtesy Rinspeed AG
Long known as the go-to guys for souping up Porsches with delightfully absurd levels of power, the auto tweakers at Switzerland-based Rinspeed have taken the next level to the next level with their latest concept car, the Splash. Although there are plenty of car-cum-boat combos out there (see the Gibbs Aquada in “Best of What’s New,” Dec. ’03), the Splash is the first that transforms into a hydroplane. (It debuted at the Geneva auto show in March.) Powered by a 140-hp turbocharged two-cylinder engine that runs on either methane or petroleum-based gas, the Splash can hit 30 mph as a boat or 50 mph as a hydroplane (that’s fast), and as a car it’ll dart from 0-to-62 mph in 5.9 seconds. At sea, a rear propeller swings down from beneath the watertight engine compartment to drive the Splash. The same propeller steers it, with a little help from the front wheels when you’re using it as a boat. The lightweight, carbon-composite body is equipped with buoyancy chambers and bilge pumps, should a rogue wave crash over the open cockpit. The only real downside is that you’re advised to sport a life preserver on land as well–the transformer has no airbag, if you can believe it.