Unique Machines: Making a Splash

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The English language lacks a word that adequately describes the Rinspeed Splash’s capabilities. More than merely amphibious, the Splash is apparently the first vehicle that can travel across the water, on land, and through the air, and its Swiss engineers claim that it posts respectable speeds in all three environments. As a hydrofoil, the two-seater can fly above the water’s surface at 50 mph. In the water, it can reach 30 mph, and it exceeds 120 mph on land.

Frank Rinderknecht, president of the Rinspeed aftermarket company in Zumikon, Switzerland, says the Splash, which cost $1.4 million to build, is the result of his quest to create the ultimate car. It weighs less than 2,000 pounds, runs on a natural gas–powered engine, and transforms from boat to hydrofoil in 30 seconds at the push of a dashboard button. Rinderknecht has no plans to put the Splash into production, but he will consider accepting commissions to build individual machines at a price at least as high as his production costs. “Prototypes, by their nature, have flaws,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to give it to the customer like this. Our goal is to deliver a perfect car. It would require some reengineering.”

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