At $195,000, Could This 2015 Panther WaterCar Be Fun If By Land And Two Times As Much If By Sea?

Photo: eBay
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

With the threat of global climate change supposedly looming, there’s a strong possibility that many of our favorite coastal roads will eventually be under water. With today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Panther Amphibious Car that won’t be a problem. Let’s see if its price will be.

Colin Chapman is famous for his efforts to “add lightness” to his cars as a means for enhancing their performance. Removing unnecessary weight was a far more cost-efficient way to win races than adding horsepower.


Many of you abide by Chapman’s edict, and that’s one reason why last Friday’s custom 2009 Nissan GT-R fared so poorly in the comments. According to its seller, that super coupe had been imbued with over forty-grand in add-on accessories. Those included bodywork extensions, fancy-pants wheels, and a coat of vinyl to make it look all carbon-fibery. Even though it also had a performance chip to up the ponies in compensation, few of you could get past those extra pounds—and the looks—and hence dunned the car’s $59,995 asking with a 61 percent Crack Pipe loss.

Let me ask you a question in confidence—do you consider yourself to be wealthy? I know, few people would answer that question in the affirmative. That’s because, while many of us could be classified as being reasonably well-off, few are—to use the technical term—stinkin’ rich.

That’s why for most of us, the mere idea of a nearly 200K plaything is likely going to be ludicrous.


For that monetarily imbued one-percent however, here’s something I’ll be you never knew you needed, but now most likely won’t be able to live without. That of course is a 2015 Panther WaterCar. I mean, who hasn’t been driving to Aspen for a weekend skiing with Bezos and Zuckerberg and thought to yourself “I could shave ten minutes off if I could just drive straight across that lake?” As an added benefit, taking an aqua route would also get you off the highway which is undoubtably befouled with riff-raff like me.


Panther was Fountain Valley, California-based company that built the amphibious WaterCar for people of means who needed something a little different in their on-road and on-the-water transportation. I say built because while their Website is still live, there doesn’t seem to be anything on it more recent than 2017. In fact, it appears they have gone belly up or are presently in the process of doing so.

Regardless, this one was built in 2015 and appears to be one of Panther’s turn-key options. The company’s moribund site notes that, new, these were likely impossible to be road registered in most states. That’s why they also offered a version without the engine and gearbox for those who wished to finish the build themselves and register the car/boat as a homebuilt.


The engine is a Honda 3.7-litre V6 and here that’s mounted longitudinally and mated to a Volkswagen 091 four-speed transaxle. Also included is a proprietary Panther jet drive for when getting wet. Despite looking all the world like a weird-ass Jeep—and sharing doors and windscreen with the Wrangler—the WaterCar is RWD only. A hydraulic system raises and lowers the suspension for water or road use and the whole shebang has been designed to be watertight and able to sit in the drink without damage to bearings, brakes, etc..


The seller states that this car/boat was bought as a retirement plaything for his father. Dad didn’t retire (I can see an HBO movie in this family’s future) and now the WaterCar just sits in the garage instead of ferrying bikini babes and frat scat to and fro on the lake. As such, there’s a mere 172 miles on the clock. That doesn’t include water sports, but it’s unlikely there’s been much of that either.


The eBay ad also notes that the car/boat was shipped back to the maker for upgrades in 2017. Those included stronger rear suspension pieces and some underbody bits to make it more stable on the water.


The engine sits in the back, behind the four-passenger cabin. The engine bay looks clean as a whistle, but does raise a critical question. That is; how does the Honda mill get air? It appears that the intake is pressed all the way up against the sound insulation at the front, offering not only no air cleaner but no MAF or any obvious way for the intake to function. Maybe there’s a hole in the wall that leads to it all?


The cabin looks very Jeep-like and while this is a plaything for the well off, there are some major gaffs in the labelling of the switchgear and levers. Those have been corrected by the seller with neon tape and Sharpie, but it certainly seems something a millionaire might do, but not a billionaire.

The upholstery is a bit ‘70s sci-fi, but looks like it probably holds up well in the wet. On the outside, you’ll find custom paint and a Bimini top. The title is clear and the car/boat sports Florida plates because of course it does.


Obviously this is not a ride for everybody. The question however, is who is it for at all? At its $195,000 asking, it’s obviously meant for those with the means to afford it. Perhaps a company that could use it as a promotional piece, or a very rich individual who enjoys fishing but can’t back up a boat trailer to save their life?


When new, a turn-key edition of the WaterCar would set you back $198K. This 2015 edition, with just 172 miles is three-grand less. Plus, they ain’t making them any more so good luck finding another, Richie Rich.


The question for you is whether this weird car/boat could command that $195,000 price. You are getting two vehicles in one, could that all add up to so grand an asking?

You decide!


eBay out of Westport, CT, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.