Amphibious Hobbycar B612 and other French curiosities

car of the day 2024 #2: ideas that float in an age of rising tides

Amphibious Hobbycar B612 and other French curiosities
Hobbycar B612 via deRivaz & Ives

Cars and water don’t mix, a fact made painfully obvious once you’ve subscribed to @BENGREGERS. “Vehicles Crossing Flooded Fords” might be a nightmare for drivers with bad judgement, but it’s top tier family entertainment on YouTube.

Ever the culinary experts, the French already invented a perfect sauce-proof car; problem is fewer than 60 were ever built and only 1/3 of those are said to still be operational.

Speedrunning specs on the Hobbycar B612: its four seats plus windshield were  electrically retractable; it used jet drive propulsion on water, and a 1250 kg (2,755 lbs) curb weight against all of 90-odd horsepower.

white hobbycar b612 side profile
Hobbycar B612 via deRivaz & Ives

Powered by a 1.9-litre Peugeot diesel engine, this is what “Most Mobile Car Ever” — L'auto la plus mobile qui soit — meant when the Hobbycar B612 was conceived in the early ’90s. 

These days, our cars are more connected than ever but struggle to stay mobile after being sunk.*

2002 Hobbycar B612 via Artcurial (2021)


That same Hobbycar Jason drove / captain’d ended up as the first B612 submarine when it sank and temporarily sat at the bottom of a small lake. It was quickly recovered and repaired — and that’s why I love the Lane Motor Museum: no use keeping vehicles locked up where they can’t be fully enjoyed or appreciated.

Same road width, much larger cars. See why cycling, walking, and just about everything else has gotten more dangerous around our vehicles—despite those same vehicles becoming "safer" than ever? Illustration by @baoigheallain via Greenpeace

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