NEW YORK (Reuters) - An inventor who transformed a 1959 milk tank truck into an amphibious car and drove it around the world wants to give someone else a similar chance — for a mere $777,777.
Rick Dobbertin created another vehicle that drives on land and water, a school bus yellow HydroCar, and is selling it this week on the online auction site eBay.
And, while he’s hoping to attract big spenders, Dobbertin’s hearing from plenty of tight-fisted bargain hunters.
“I’m getting a lot of bids for like $1 or $7.77,” Dobbertin said. “But that kind of thing happens no matter what kind of vehicle is up on (eBay). It doesn’t bother me though because a lot of good offers are coming.”
Dobbertin, 58, of Pennellville in upstate New York, spent almost nine years and $300,000 building the HydroCar. It has a 762 horsepower engine and travels at speeds up to 100 mph on land and 25-30 mph on water. In water, the car is buoyed by pontoons that, on land, are raised and become its fenders.
“The HydroCar made its debut on the cover of the January 2004 Popular Mechanics magazine,” Dobbertin notes on eBay. A sci-fi looking car gracing the magazine cover closely resembles Dobbertin’s creation.
Dobbertin, who designs prototype autoparts for a living, also created the Surface Orbiter, the converted milk truck he drove and sailed to 28 countries around the globe.
While the HydroCar has been listed for sale, it is a “work in progress” and probably isn’t ready yet for regular use, he said on Monday.
“I’m selling it as a collector piece more than anything,” he said. “There’s still a little bit of work that needs to be done on it.”
His goal is to get the HydroCar to speeds above 50 mph on water.
The original price tag for the HydroCar was $1 million but when it failed to draw bids, Dobbertin dropped it to $777,000.
“For lucky sevens- and that’s when people began to pick up on it,” Dobbertin explained.
The eBay auction for the HydroCar ends at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday. As of Monday afternoon, 21 offers have been made on it, ranging from compelling to just down right ridiculous, Dobbertin said.
Reporting by Aman Ali; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton