November 15, 2006 Last week yet another successful crossing of the English Channel was made, this time by two Dutton S2 Commander amphibians which made the journey in 7 hours and 5 minutes travelling from Dover (UK) to Calais (France). The attempt fell well short of the Sealegs amphibious boat record of 43 minutes, and the Gibbs Aquada’s amphibious car record of one hour, 40 minutes but there are a few special attributes that should be considered. For starters, the Suzuki-based Dutton S2 is fully road registrable, has true 4WD capabilities, comes in petrol or diesel engine, right or left drive, and costs less than US$50,000 – it’s your genuine budget, works-out-of-the-box amphibian. Secondly, there was almost no planning involved and the crossing was done in less-than-ideal conditions to draw attention to the plight of a wildfowl reserve (wildfowl being amphibious creatures is the connection) and in ideal conditions a time of better than five hours could be expected. With 90 percent of the world's population living close to the water, amphibians make a lot of sense.
Piloted by our old mate Doug Hilton of the landairandsea museum and the cars’ designer Tim Dutton, the two started just after 10.00 and finally pulled onto the beach at Calais, seven hours and five minutes later after fighting against waves, changing winds and being set miles to the west by the seven metre plus tidal rips.
The Suzuki-based 4WD Dutton S2 Commander is fully road-registerable and comes with 1300cc petrol or 1500cc diesel engine, can be built with right or left hand drive, and for non-UK customers (who don’t attract the 17.5% tax), can be had for UKP25,490 (US$48,700) upwards depending on spec.
All images: Ben Plews of Maidstone Kent