Behind the Wheel: Fraser couple makes a splash with Amphicar

By: Jennifer Sigouin | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published May 10, 2017

When Chuck Reiner wants to spend some time on the water, he just drives right in.

You read that right. Reiner, 62, of Fraser, hops into his Amphicar, drives to one of his favorite lakes, and then glides into the water as his car seamlessly transitions to a boat with a 10-horsepower motor.

“We are able to go literally anywhere,” said Reiner. “We basically qualify to go in any lake or river.”

The Amphicar, which was made in Berlin in the 1960s, is an amphibious vehicle that can be used on both land and water. Reiner said that about 3,800 were manufactured, and he estimates that 500 to 700 still exist today. Of those, he said, approximately 300 are likely still swimmable.

Reiner, a pharmacist who inherited a love of cars from his father, set his sights on an Amphicar 16 years ago after his wife, Deanna, spotted one at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

“It’s very different from anything out there,” he said. “You see a zillion Mustangs and Camaros and Firebirds.”

The couple thought it would be a fun summer ride, perfect for trips to local lakes, so they started searching on eBay. Reiner eventually found one, but lost out on his bid. Then a friend and fellow car club member tipped him off about one for sale near Toronto.

Reiner went to Toronto to check it out, and he returned home as the proud owner of a red 1962 “Amphi,” joining the ranks of such Amphicar owners as Lyndon B. Johnson, Dan Aykroyd and Madonna.

The Amphi needed a little TLC at first, so Reiner did some repair and restoration work. Once the car was in shipshape for both land and sea, the Reiners dove right into Amphi life, joining a club for Amphicar owners and making many close friends through the group’s meetups — also known as “swim-ins” — which they attend a few times a year.

“We have a real good camaraderie,” said Reiner.

The couple’s favorite place to take the car is Mount Dora, Florida, every March, when “it’s cold and miserable up here,” Reiner explained. There, they join 15 to 20 fellow Amphicar owners to enjoy the warm weather and cruise the area’s lakes.

The Reiners also show off the Amphi at every metro Detroit cruising event they can, including the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Gratiot cruises.

“It’s usually quite a crowd-stopper,” said Reiner. “Most people have never seen a real one.”
Following the purchase of his 1962 Amphi, Reiner acquired a mate for it — a blue 1968 Amphicar. He also owns a 1941 Willys pickup truck street rod and a 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8.


Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history or a special meaning to you? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at jsigouin@candgnews.com, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.