It’s a boat, it’s a car: Rocky Mountain Amphicar Adventures provides unique ride

John Bevins drives an Amphicar on Grand Lake. He's been restoring Amphicars for 25 years and this summer has started offering rides in Grand Lake.
Amy Golden /

The roar of the engine gently shook the ‘60s convertible, top-down on a sunny July day, as driver John Bevins headed for Grand Lake’s boat launch.

Instead of finding a parking spot in the crowded lot, he took the vehicle straight to the ramp without stopping. As the car hit the water, he pushed the clutch, engaged the two propellers and shifted the land transmission into neutral.

Water splashed in a wave around the vehicle as the wheels left the ground. Boaters on the lake turned to stare at the amphibious car known as the Amphicar.

Bevins has been restoring Amphicars for 25 years. He is one of only five people in the world that exclusively restores them and at one point was the president of the International Amphicar Club.

This year, he and his wife, Cathy Bevins, decided to start offering these one-of-a-kind rides in Grand Lake. Rocky Mountain Amphicar Adventures opened up just three weeks ago, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“That’s our favorite part,” Bevins said. “We want people to be happy. So far, everybody has been.”

The business sits on Grand Lake’s main street with the Amphicar parked out front unless it’s giving a ride. Bevins plans to convert their building into the world’s first Amphicar museum so he can share the historical documents he’s collected over the years about the rare vehicle.

In the 1960s, 3,878 Amphicars were made in Germany and most were shipped to the US. Today, Bevins estimates there are about 2,000 left with only 800 still seaworthy.

He said he enjoys the obscure, which is what drew him to Amphicars.

“I don’t know what made me look that day and get interested in Amphicars,” Bevins said. “I started looking and I was entranced with them all the sudden. It’s never stopped.”

He spent the next decade traveling the country as he bought, restored and sold the Amphicars. He’s had 55 Amphicars in his lifetime and currently owns 12.

The cars can comfortably go up to 65 mph on the road, and cruise at roughly 7 mph on water.  On every aquatic journey, heads turn and nearby boaters pull out their phones to capture the Amphicar as it goes by.

The experience of cruising a lake or river in a car is unlike any other, according to Bevins.

“When I sell an Amphicar to somebody, I say, ‘This car is going to change your life,’” Bevins said. “And they always laugh — just like you just did — they always laugh. But I say, ‘Call me in a year and we’ll talk.’ Not one single person has ever said anything but ‘Oh my God, this so changed my life.’”

While Bevins has given tons of rides to friends and families in the past, this is his first summer charging for the service. Most customers are impulse buyers, drawn by the old fashioned car parked on main street and sold by the idea of driving it into the lake.

Bevins said he is looking forward to working with and being a part of the Grand Lake business community. He has been working to integrate into the town as a unique source of entertainment for tourists.

“We want to be known here in Grand Lake,” he added. “We want this to be a part of Grand Lake history.”

Rocky Mountain Amphicar Adventures has one car in operation this summer, but Bevins plans to add two more next year. Rides are $125 per carload, which is about 3-4 people, and they last 30 minutes.

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