Rick Dobbertin is known for creating hot rods and wild amphibious vehicles. One of his most ambitious projects is a 762 horsepower V8-powered sports car for the water, the HydroCar. It’s been around the auction block a couple of times and it’s up for grabs yet again.
Back in January I wrote about Dobbertin’s extraordinary milk tanker-turned amphibious RV called the Surface Orbiter. In that story I made a note about the HydroCar, Dobbertin’s decade-long project to make a high-speed amphibious vehicle. Where the Surface Orbiter milk tanker creation was built to travel the world’s oceans, the Hydrocar would transform — literally — between a sports car and a speedboat.
The HydroCar is rolling across the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas, Nevada, auction going down June 17 through 19.
This will be one of a few times the HydroCar’s gone up for sale. It most notably went up for sale in 2011 on eBay for $777,000. It showed up again in 2018 when it was auctioned by Worldwide Auctioneers for $60,500.
The HydroCar was a bit of a sensation. It was featured on the January 2004 issue of Popular Mechanics and it’s also popped up on Forbes and two issues of Monster Garage.
According to Dobbertin’s website on the HydroCar, the vehicle is built with an aluminum body sitting on a space frame of 304 stainless steel. It has pontoons that drop down when the vehicle is in Water Mode and make up the vehicle’s fenders in Land Mode.
If that yellow looks familiar, it’s because it’s Velocity Yellow meant for a Corvette.
Its spec sheet gives some interesting insight into how it works. The HydroCar features a mid-mounted 9.3-liter V8 making 762-HP and 712 lb-ft torque built by World Products. The engine’s starter makes 3-HP alone.
That power is transmitted through a custom-built Quadzilla 4L80-E four-speed automatic that, perhaps unexpectedly, drives the front wheels. Yep, this thing is front-wheel-drive! Imagine the silly 762-HP front wheel burnouts that you could do.
Thankfully, that rear axle does serve some purpose aside from being along for the ride. The rear axle is designed to steer independently from the front, allowing tight turns or a crab walk, if that is your thing.
The interior is vastly different than the Surface Orbiter. Gone is living space and in its place is a cramped cockpit that would feel at home in a plane.
Claimed top speeds are 125 mph on land and 60 mph on water. The 2011 eBay listing noted that Dobbertin spent over a decade building the thing, but didn’t quite finish the job. So, it’s possible that top speeds were never tested, either. I haven’t been able to find any detail about what didn’t get finished, but Dobbertin did make some videos of it in action:
Some sources have claimed over the years that Dobbertin drove the HydroCar some 30,000 miles, 3,000 of which on water. Based on Dobbertin’s retelling of his adventures, those sources appear to be mixing up the HydroCar with the Surface Orbiter.
What it’ll be worth this time around the auction block is unknown. The Dobbertin HydroCar goes up on the Barrett-Jackson auction happening June 17 through 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada.