This car brought the amphibious concept right up-to-date in 1992 in a vehicle bristling with novel design touches. It made a real splash on a spectacular stand at the Paris Motor Show that year.
- YEAR REVEALED 1992
- PLACE OF ORIGIN Thenay, Loire, France
- HISTORICAL STATUS production car
- ENGINE four-cylinder, 116ci (1,905cc)
- MAXIMUM POWER 92bhp
- LAYOUT mid-mounted engine driving all four wheels
- BODYWORK door-less, four-seater convertible buggy
- TOP SPEED 87mph (140kph) on land five knots on water
- NUMBER BUILT 52
Unlike the Amphicar, the Hobbycar was mid-engined rather than front-engined, for better on-water balance, and had four-wheel drive instead of two. The steel-reinforced fiberglass bodywork was also watertight, there being no doors for water to seep through. The four pivoting seats could be configured in numerous ways or folded down flush and locked shut, and the dashboard and steering column were also retractable and lockable as one unit.
The windshield was retractable, electrically, to make the Hobbycar absolutely wide open. Propulsion in the water was by two joystickoperated hydrojets that together gave 661lb (300kg) of thrust, for five-knot paddling. To cut water-resistance, the wheels could be pulled up inside the body.
A Peugeot turbodiesel engine was the power source, and the car had adjustable hydro-pneumatic suspension settings for different terrain. The Hobbycar seemed a neatly-resolved design, and the factory even had its own lake for potential buyers to test the car.
Its makers sought to spread the risk of manufacturing expensive $45,000 playthings by developing a compact and luxurious family car, the Passport. This seemed to be a wise strategy, but when the company’s resources became overstretched it was soon forced into administration.