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In London, new sportscar doubles as boat
( 2003-09-04 09:57) (Agencies)

Britain's newest sports car took a test drive Wednesday, zooming back and forth across the waters of the Thames River in pure James Bond style.

A high-speed land and water vehicle drives on the River Thames Wednesday, Sept 3, 2003. The Aquada is designed to reach speeds of 100mph on land and over 30mph on water and can switch between the two surfaces at the switch of a button. Gibbs Technologies, who designed it, says that no other road-legal amphibian has managed to exceed 6mph on water.   [AP]
The Aquada can hit speeds of 100 miles an hour on land and once it hits water, the wheels retract into the wheel arch, jets kick in, and the car is suddenly a boat.

Once waterborne it can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour, according to Gibbs Technologies, the British firm that designed it.

With a sticker price of about $235,000, the convertible has no doors in order to avoid leaks. Drivers and passengers must jump over the side to get into the car just like a boat.

"With this you can have a really good car on the road, and an exciting toy that can tow a water skier, that you can commute to work with, that you can go to St. Tropez with and take two girlfriends," the firm's chairman Alan Gibbs told reporters at the car's test drive on London's Thames on Wednesday.

The car is part of the Aquada Bond series, but the company couldn't say whether that is a veiled reference to James Bond and the sports-car-cum-submarine that the superspy operated in the movie "The Spy Who Loved Me."

The vehicle can switch to cruising on water within seconds, and the drive mechanism switches to power a jet that propels the vehicle, according to the company.

"The design requirements for the Aquada were daunting, but the technology has delivered and demonstrates the quality of British engineering," said Gibbs, a New Zealand entrepreneur who built his first fast amphibian vehicle in 1995, before moving his company to Britain in 1999. He said the Aquada was the product of a seven-year development program and 60 newly patented technologies.

One hundred of the cars are being built and will sell at the end of this year.

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