At 9 a.m. on August 22, 1962, Shirley Blatchford and Margaret Hinterseer drove their white Amphicar into Lake Ontario at Niagara-on-the-Lake and set sail for the Canadian National Exhibition.
For the 51 km trip, the two women wore life jackets and brought paddles and a fire extinguisher. Just in case, they were escorted by a yacht, the Burlesque, with their spouses aboard.
When the pair arrived at the CNE waterfront at 5:45 p.m., they were greeted by 4,000 applauding spectators and received bouquets of roses. It was the first crossing of Lake Ontario in an amphibious automobile. The Amphicar was later on display at the Auto Show.
Shirley Blatchford was a Toronto school teacher, and Margaret Hinterseer was a dietitian with the T Eaton Company. The journey across the lake resulted from a challenge. Their husbands bet them each a bottle of champagne they would not make the trip, so Shirley and Margaret took them up on it.
About the Amphicar
The amphibious vehicle was made in Berlin, Germany, and produced from 1961 until 1968.
A total of 3,878 Amphicars were made.
The vehicle weighed 998 kg or 2,200 lbs.
The Amphicar had a solid steel hull, twin nylon propellers and an electric bilge pump.
It could reach speeds of 11 km/h on water and 112 km/h on land.
Operators simply flicked a gear lever to go from driving on land to cruising on the water.
The Amphicars were convertibles and originally came in four colours: Beach Sand White, Lagoon Blue, Regatta Red and Fjord Green.
Depending on the year, they originally sold for $2,800 to $3,300.
In 1962, there were seven Amphicar dealers in Ontario.
The vehicles were advertised as “the car that swims” and “it’s good to get off the beaten path.”
Amphicar at the CNE Photos
The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Jun 15, 1962, pg 12
Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Aug 22, 1962, pg 45
The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Aug 23, 1962, pg 5