The Amphibious Vehicle


James Bond movies aside, the amphibious vehicle has never really caught on. You might associate an amphibious vehicle with a car, but bikes and buses can also be amphibious. Most are developed and used by the militeries of the world. Let’s take a closer look at some Russian, German and American amphibious vehicles.

From the former Soviet Union comes the Vityaz, a the multi-unit ATV and not truly amphibious because it doesn’t really float. It is, however, capable of carrying a monster payload (over 5 tons) through snow or swamp. The Vityaz resembles two carriages from a train with caterpillar tracks. While it’s predecessors go all the way back the the 1960’s the current model has been in production since 1982.

280px-VW_Kuebelwagen_1The German carmaker Volkswagen brings us two offerings: the Schwimmwagen and Kübelwagen. The Schwimmwagen is a squat 4×4 and the Kübelwagen resembles the bottom half of a VW Beetle. Bothe descend from the civilian version of the humble VW Beatle, but the Kübelwagen came first. The Kübelwagen became the Axis version of the allies jeep, sort of an all-terrain swift transport and tow platform. Unfortunately, the bottom design didn’t lend itself to swimming, with lead to the later developed Schwimagen. Over 15,000 Schwimwagens were produced between 1941 and 1944, making it the largest number of amphibious vehicles ever produced.

280px-VW_Schwimmwagen_1The Americans meanwhile developed the DUKW, which is where the story really twists.

The DUKW Story

It isn’t that clear what the DUKW stands for, the official line is that the initialism concerns “Designed in 1942” and “Utility” but the K and the W don’t stand for much at all. It may just be thought of as a code name but if that’s so why come up with code name which resembles what they are?

The DUKW, from this point forward ‘Duck’ was developed by top military and naval pioneers and quickly rejected by the main forces. When several Coast Guards got into difficulty off the coast of Princetown in Massachusetts a Duck vehicle happened to be giving a demo. The vehicle had no difficulty in rescuing the stranded Guardsmen. Later the Duck would show its usefulness by crossing the English Channel as well as manoeuvring on French soil but firstly the initial vehicle was re-engineered by the Yellow Coach & Truck Company.

300px-DUKW.image2.armyTwo thousand such vehicles were used by Great Britain during the WWII as well as 500 being used by Australian forces. Just over 75 years ago they were used in D-Day When the war ended they were used both in the Borneo and the Malayan campaign. These old vehicles seemed remarkably hard wearing, given that many had to undergo the rigor of the tide. The last Duck to be used in the military was in 2012.

There were plans to make Ducks bigger, to turn them into Superducks or “Drakes”. Developments were especially made in what was then the Soviet Union, including the addition of a ramp to the back of the vehicle, which would seem more like common sense than a physical difference.

How Floating Cars Help Regular Cars

As you might guess, there are many factors at play in creating amphibious vehicles that can be used in normal vehicles. Water in the engine is always a bad thing and the developments during the war and beyond were vital to keeping modern cars running smoothly. Then there is the difficulty of what happens when a car not exactly built for it has to drive through water.

The official recommendation is always to avoid driving your car through water deeper than a few inches but even car makers know it’s going to happen. Any water on the road, ford or puddle, may affect your brakes. After going through the water you are advised to check that your brakes work.

A ford is a place you cross a river where no bridge has been built. You should, at least, find a depth gage which marks the current depth of the water. Without a depth gage you’re advised not to try.

The Ultimate Demise of the DUKW

The final resting place in history for the “Duck Boat” has been tourism. Places like Seattle, Washington and Branson Missouri have employed them to take visitors around to see the sights from the unique views available to a vehicle that can go on land and water.

However, these tours have been plagued by tragic accidents, when taken out in adverse weather conditions or when poorly maintained. It will become increasingly more difficult to find an operational DUKW, but that doesn’t mean the world has given up on civilian Amphibious Vehicles.

Quite a few UTV’s are in production with limited amphibious ability, due in no small part, to their ability to help sport hunters and outdoor enthusiasts reach destinations that are otherwise nearly unattainable.


Patriotic Cars


alexandria-3773138_1920Op-Ed by Staff

When it comes to giving cars a paint job, you can do worse than choosing the stars and stripes design, it has been used on giant diesel trucks, on VW buses, even on the iconic pickup. Some designs use a static style flag; others choose a dynamic design which looks as if the flag is waving in the breeze.

It is not necessary to stick a stars and stripes design all over a car, sometimes only the hood is painted, sometimes only the roof. It all depends on individual tastes. It’s certainly possible to go too far.

If you don’t want to actually paint the flag on your car you could use a vinyl wrap. Wraps work like a sticker and cover a car in a way that’s durable and cost-effective. NASCAR uses wraps to decorate their cars since they often change sponsors and often take damage.

Should you not wish to paint or wrap your car you can invest in a window screen with the American flag on it, or a stars and stripes style license plate holder. It is a very lucrative market and many car accessories sellers can assist you.



The famous red racing Corvette shows how you can have a design which hints on the stars and stripes without going overboard. Instead of having a flag there are banners which resemble a stripe on the hood as well as one which forms a cross shape on the roof. These banners have stars on them. Most of the rest of the car is red, as stated above.

As well as stars and stripes some cars have bald eagles or even a Civil War battle. It comes down to people’s imagination. A symbol of the USA which often appears on car designs, Captain America is believed by many people to date from the 2011 movie. But in the comic world, he goes all the way back to 1941. The actual symbol doesn’t seem to matter as much as the patriotism evoked.

There is a bit of money to be had from painting your vehicle and displaying the results in events on days such as Independence Day and Veteran’s Day. It might even be a viable business, though you undoubtedly have a great deal of competition out there.

What about the backlash though? Yes, there is a backlash. Some online journalists complain about the number of patriotic vehicles out there. After all, having the stars-and-stripes on your truck proves nothing. Is it better to say, join the military, or run for office? Where some of us appreciate these cars for their aesthetic sense, critics see them as “rather gaudy.” Each to their own.

To many people, the most innately patriotic vehicle is the Jeep, though opinion is divided. Next in line is probably Cadillac.

action-asphalt-blur-315938.jpgYou don’t have to be a dealership owner to know that every car business based in this country wants to be associated with patriotism. The automotive industry is deeply connected to our country. Prior to the space race, cars were the driving technology of the future and the daily bread of the youngest and most innovative new country in the world. Even the aviation industry never toppled cars in the hearts of most Americans.

Why it’s as American as Apple Pie and Baseball!


What’s News: R.I.P Mr. Iacoca


Lee Iacocca, who created the iconic Ford Mustang and later in his career rescued Chrysler from bankruptcy, has died, his foundation and Ford Motor Company confirmed on Tuesday. He was 94. Iacocca’s daughter told The Washington Post the cause of death was complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Original story

In his 32-year career at Ford and then Chrysler, Iacocca helped launch some of Detroit’s best-selling and most significant vehicles, including the minivan, the Chrysler K-cars and the Ford Escort. He also spoke out against what he considered unfair trade practices by Japanese automakers.

Iacocca authored or co-authored several books, including Iacocca: An Autobiography (with William Novak), and Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Portfolio Magazine named Iacocca the 18th-greatest American CEO of all time.

Best of the Web: Great Race (Part 4)


“Wow, what a crazy adventure. Nine days and approximately 2,300 miles later, we’re in Tacoma, Washington for one of the most awesome Great Race finishes in quite some time. The LeMay – America’s Car Museum offered the perfect venue for our event, and the local car community came out in full force to support the event. The racers had a very challenging final stage of the Great Race, with a multitude of speed changes and maneuvers, leading to the culmination of the 2019 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Hagerty…. the crowd would welcome each car across the finish line and then reconvene for the announcement of the winners.

190630_GR_0251We went class by class, and the crowd went wild when announcer Jason White would reveal the class winners. X Cup kicked off the show, as Scott Culp and the Murfreesboro, Tennessee team took top honors in their 1953 Pontiac Chieftain. Then it was the Sportsman team of Neil Myercough and Shanna Chatraw taking fifth place overall and winning their division. The Expert class was highly contested, as always, and it was Olivia and Genna Gentry getting the job done in their new 1932 Ford five-window coupe rally car.

190630_GR_0819Finally, we announced the winner of the Grand Champion, which was the team of Howard and Doug Sharp from Fairport, New York. Their 1916 Hudson was bullet proof all week long, and the Sharps were diligent with their strategy of repeatability…do the same thing every day and never look back. Take a look at some of our photos from the finish line festivities, as well as photos from this morning’s route, our adventure at the drag strip and our Awards Banquet.”

Original Story

Final Scores

If you’d like to enter next years race CLICK HERE!

Great Classic Car Race (Part 3)


For those who missed a post from us yesterday, we didn’t post because we were out covering the Great Race! Instead we’re posting today!


Welcome to our coverage of the Great Race…

We had a fantastic day at the Vancouver, Washington stop on the Great Race. If you’re in Astoria, Oregon right now stop looking at the computer and get yourself down to the Maritime Museum and check it out live for yourself.

By lunch today the cars should be stopping to eat on Commerce Avenue, Longview, WA. Then tonight’s layover will be in Spanaway, WA. at the LeMay Family Collection about 5:15 PM.

The Final Finish Line is LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA. @ 1:30 PM Sunday.

190628_GR_0082For more details on the rest of the race stops click this link.

If you want more details on all the cars in the race, click this link.

Here’s some photos from the event here in Vancouver, Washington where we watch the lead cars come in so far. But first lets give a big thanks to Ron Wade of the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM) for being a great host. We not only saw some great cars, but we had great conversations with owners, listened to live music, and ate great food from local food trucks. The Coffee Via food truck is one of the great food trucks available here on a regular basis, and we’re excited to come back do a deeper dive on the museum and the food trucks.

190628_GR_0204The Friday began in Warm Springs, OR near Bend when the route took the racers to Hood River, OR for lunch. After a bite, racers were treated to the scenic highway 30 through “The Columbia River Gorge” and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

As racers reached the finish line at WAAAM in Vancouver, each car, driver, and navigator was announced and trivia was told. The day was hot and the crowd was excited. Excitement and congeniality blended to bring an atmosphere unique to car culture.




Please enjoy tons more photos on the Kicker Facebook Page.

Great Classic Car Race (Part 2)


The Columbian Newspaper here in Vancouver, WA is covering the great race we mentioned on Monday. You know we’ll be there this Friday. It’s going to be fun, I hope some of you come down and join us. (If you don’t live local, just google your local car shows and check one out.)

Activities start at 10 am technically, when the Museum opens, but don’t expect to see any cars at the finish line until about 5 PM. In the mean time there is a cruise-in at 2 PM and eventually live music by King Brothers.

The finish line for the overnight layover will be  WAAAM West Cars by Ron Wade at 1015 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver, WA. 

The Great Race began 36 years ago and is a Time/Speed/Distance Rally. It began in Riverside, CA. this year and will end in Tacoma, WA. Each stop is free.

For an Update on Day Four Progress here’s a link.


Joke Car Terms


by A. R. Bunch

The other day, in the local big box hardware store, I overheard a young man in a yellow construction vest ask an employee where he could find a “mile of shoreline.” The grey-haired employee smiled broadly and said, “go down to isle 10 and ask Ted, he’ll fix you up.”

“Great,” exclaimed the young man. “’cause then I also need to find a two-by-four bender.”

The employee rested his chin in his hand, covering his grin, and his eyes gleamed with the effort of holding back laughter.

“Go ahead and ask Ted for that as well. He’ll know right what to do.”

As soon as the young man left, both the employee and I laughed. Of course, I felt sorry for the young guy, but it’s a right of passage. We’ve all paid our dues, as “old hat” employees prank you into saying or doing something absurd because we don’t know the ropes yet.

For me, it was taking apart an old (and much hated) cash register so I could retrieve a part I’d never heard of, that needed to be recycled separately. The rest of the machine could be thrown away, or so I was told. When my manager eventually hunted me up to see why I’d left my post for so long I was up to my elbow in a machine the size of an office copier that could have just been drug out back for maintenance to haul away.

To save you similar embarrassment, here are a few common car industry pranks.

Items to never ask for at your local auto part store:

  • Headlight fluid
  • Windshield lubricant
  • Bumper tape or anti-scratch tape
  • Headrest accelerant
  • Spark plug magnifier
  • Trailer hitch swivel
  • Microwave compression unit
  • Screen filter for the cabin floor drain
  • Waterproof roof-valve assembly package


And for the record, your seat cushion doesn’t expire so don’t look for the date.

  • There is no hand crank back up for a modern electric starter.
  • There is no exhaust malfunction on your electric car.
  • There is no button on your dashboard to automatically jack up your car.

If your mechanic says you have a loose nut behind the wheel, he or she is saying that the grinding noise you hear can’t be heard by any trained professional.

However, there are some things you’ll be tempted to think are BS which actually are true.

  • Internal combustion engines do technically have a tiny amount of fire under the hood.
  • Cars can and do burn a percentage of alcohol (up to and including 100% on rare occasion).
  • There are actually two colors of deasil which results from a dye added to deasil sold for farm equipment (indicating that no road tax was charged on that fuel).
  • Bio-deasil is used oil that’s been altered primarily by filtering it.
  • The rubber on your tires does have an expiration date on it and does go bad sitting on the shelf even if it’s never put on a car.
  • Many car scratches can be buffed out with wax
  • Undercoating can come in handy but only in places that rely on salt to prevent road ice
  • Hitler did not invent the VW bug, but most Germane and Japanese did make warplanes or tanks, as did most allied car companies. At one point GM was the largest defense contractor in the world.
  • Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, he adopted a process of manufacture that reduced the cost and therefore the price.
  • There is a separate air filter for your cabin and your engine.
  • There is such a thing as a branded title (meaning the car has been totaled once.)
  • New cars do lose most of there value when driven off the dealer lot.

Well, hopefully, you’re now equipped with the basics so you won’t look ridiculous around people who do know cars. If you know one we missed please let us know in the comments. We promise we’ll keep you anonymous.

“Classic Car” New Great Race (part 1)

Welcome to the first installment of our coverage of the Great Race.

According to the race organizers official blog:

Teams and cars from Japan, England, Australia, Canada and every corner of the United States will converge in Riverside in mid-June with vintage automobiles dating back as far as 1916.”

This will be the first year that the race will start and finish on the west coast. It began today in Riverside, CA and ends Saturday June 30 in Tacoma, WA.

Here’s a link to the full route.

Link to route
The 9-day, 2,300-mile adventure will bring 120 of the world’s finest antique automobiles to 18 cities in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. More than $150,000 will be awarded to top finishers in multiple divisions.

The event was started in 1983 by Tom McRae and it takes its name from the 1965 movie, The Great Race, which starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk. The movie is a comedy based on the real life 1908 automobile race from New York to Paris. In 2004, Tony Curtis was the guest of the Great Race and rode in his car from the movie, the Leslie Special.

Cars built in 1974 and earlier are eligible, with most entries having been manufactured before World War II. In the 2017 Great Race a 1932 Ford won the event from Florida to northern Michigan. The 2019 winners will again receive $50,000 of the $150,000 total purse.

Over the decades, the Great Race has stopped in hundreds of cities big and small, from tiny Austin, Nevada to New York City.

Every stop along the race is free to the public and you can be sure when it rolls through Vancouver, WA. This Friday the kicker blog will be there to cover the event.