The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Rinspeed Splash 'Hydrofoil Car' Sets New English Channel Crossing Record - VIDEO ENHANCED STORY

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Edited by Marc J. Rauch, Exec. VP/Co-Publisher

DOVER, England - July 27, 2006:

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Just days after a Fiat Panda amphibicar took a leisurely "drive" across the English Channel, the Rinspeed Splash, a completely new concept in amphibious vehicles, set a new world record. Frank M. Rinderknecht, boss of the Swiss design company that built the "Splash," was the vehicle's pilot.

Whereas "normal" amphibious cars displace the water like a boat and therefore bear some resemblance to a bathtub, the "Splash" skims over the water on extendable wings like a hydrofoil. "We crossed the busiest waterway in the world as if on a surfboard," said Rinderknecht.

To make the voyage the original "Splash" had to be converted to an offshore-capable version.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Original Splash version

To do so, Rinspeed took on board the Swiss engineering specialists, Esoro, and one of the world's biggest plastics producers, Bayer MaterialScience. With their extensive materials know-how, the experts helped Rinspeed get the "Splash fit for the high seas. The main design modification involved the wings, which had to be reinforced. To guarantee dimensional stability, the molds were cut from molded polyurethane foam.

• Watch a great 7 min. video of the original "Splash" car, complete with underwater shots and real-live mermaids from Weeki Watchee Springs in Florida.

The successful record ride over the waves was a tough ordeal not only for the pilot but also for the material.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 140 bhp, 750 ccm Weber Motor engine can take the Splash up to 80 kph (50 mph), and at that speed even small waves feel as hard as rock. To supply enough power for the maiden voyage, WeberMotor supplied a brand-new version of its lightweight, low-consumption, environmentally friendly two-cylinder engine. This extremely compact power package produces 140 bhp/103 kW at 7’000 rpm, and generates maximum torque of 150 Nm at just 3’500 rpm.

In theory, the 36 km or so between Dover and Sangatte would have taken just under half an hour but, says Rinderknecht, “I may be able to drive at that speed at home in Switzerland on Lake Zurich with no wind and the surface as smooth as glass, but not on one of the most difficult stretches of water in the world. But safety was always the prime concern.”

With his arrival at the French town of Sangatte, he captured his entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Frank M. Rinderknecht was overjoyed: “We Swiss are not just good at making the tastiest chocolate; we can also build the fastest hydrofoil vehicle in the world – even though we’re not exactly a seafaring nation …”