Amphicar The Car of the Future - Here Today cutout    





Coolant alarms.

I like this idea and one is now fitted to Amphicar. simple and reliable, made in Australia. Details here


July 2012.

New with pictures driveshaft rebuild and tunnel repairs

Right, RB102 regulator, oft refered to as a "piece of junk" by anyone younger than an Amphicar but really a clever bit of equipment using the best technology available at the time. If you want to increase your respect for it read the tech articles (well more like white papers they are so good) that an Australian TR4 owner called Hugo has written about it here:  http://www.worldphaco.net/

Now personally - even after reading all that, I'm still an Alternator sort of bloke so regulator and dynamo/generator went over the hedge and a Lucas ACR14 was fitted to my car 20 years ago which has performed perfectly. The ACR14 is a simple conversion which Triumph did themselves to the engine from around 1972 so all the hardware is available.


Front grease caps and wheel bearings - HERE

Rear spring details.

I've measured these for my mate Rowan in Aus but thought I'd also put them here for anyone else. These are for the large spring late model cars but some of the dimensions may apply to others.

Outside spring diameter is 97mm, spring thickness is about 12.5mm and there are about 12.5 turns. Distance centre eye to centre eye of damper is exactly 400mm, that's off the car, when fitted to the damper (still off the car) the spring length is 293mm. With spring and damper on the car at a normal running height the compressed spring length is 255mm

Ok - next I removed the spring from the damper, then the spring length uncompressed is 330mm. If I then put 100Kg of weight on it then it compresses to 302mm. The Amphicar spec sheet shows about 350Kg on each corner so a running compressed distance of 255mm shows it is roughly linear - it will be slightly off because the spring isn't vertical (see above).



Amphicar dimensions, these are in mm - much easier to work with than those old fashioned inch things !


Fuel tank, 

This is the custom made fuel tank I have in my Amphicar, made of Aluminium with an external filler and all connections at the top. The plumbing in the middle is the fuel vent and there is a catch tank (the bottle !) just in case it's filled with cold fuel which then expands. The external filler is just in front of the screen and behind the washer bottle in the photo. You can't see in the photo but a copper fuel line picks up from the top of the tank and is routed through to the fuel pump.


A great reference here on Silicone brake fluid, we love it ! http://www.buckeyetriumphs.org/technical/Brakes/Fluid/Fluid.htm

A close-up of the transmission showing a few other mods, on the left is the copper fuel line, just below the bilge pickup is the sensor for water level (the smoke alarm trick) On the top of the water trannie is the dipstick I made, very simple, just calibrate it once by removing the plugs and from then on can check oil level in a more conventional way. ( FYI, from the split pin that positions across the top of the filler, the level mark for the water transmission is at 115mm and for land is at 136mm)







Converting your Amphicar to Negative Earth (Ground)

Why ? There are many benefits in converting Amphicar to negative earth, the main two for me are you can fit an alternator and you don’t blow up cellular phone chargers !  Mostly the conversion is straightforward and is documented elsewhere, the fuel gauge (details below) is the only part where you need to get a soldering iron out.  

The original Amphicar charging circuit, especially the voltage regulator, is not very good, the car will gradually loose charge at low RPM (in the water) if the lights and wipers are on, this is because the regulator changes output dependent on heat, if you set it to provide enough charge (voltage) when in the water at low RPM with a cool engine area - it will overcharge at fast road speeds and cook the battery. This is a know issue on other cars that use the same charging system (Triumph Heralds and early Spitfires) 

How ? It is possible to replace the regulator and repolarise the dynamo to change to negative earth but it's best to just junk the lot and fit an alternator - this is the main benefit of changing polarity. An alternator from a later Triumph fits without any major problems (although you need to remember to get the adapter block that fits on the engine block as the mountings are different) It then just connects straight to the battery - no regulator needed. You must at this stage replace the battery leads so they can not be connected the wrong way round as alternators are polarity sensitive. 

One other often overlooked thing to change in the engine bay is the ignition coil, these will continue to work after polarity is reversed but sometimes they fails after a few months, they are cheap and easy to replace so best not risk it ! Some people also replace the capacitor/condenser and points, not strictly necessary but as they are ordinary service items it's a good idea. The biggest technical problem is the fuel gauge. The horn should work as well as ever but best bet is to junk it anyway and fit one under the bonnet (sorry - hood) it is plenty loud enough there and protected from water. 

The only other thing you may spot is the wipers don't park as well as before, they still work fine but are a little bit up the screen, this is due to the way the cam actuates for self parking. If you take the wiper motor apart you can switch polarity to the motor which fixes the problem, reasonably straight forward but you might want to get the autoelectrician to sort this while he is doing the fuel gauge. 

Everything else works fine but watch for bilge pumps etc - and one other important point, I've ignored the bilge blower as we don't have those in Europe. The radios we tend to all use in Europe are Blaupunkt, particulalry the Frankfurt models W, X, Y and Z These fit in the original slot and even have lovely ivory knobs. They are 4 waveband. I have bough a couple secondhand from Germany so may have a spare one for sale. 

What needs to be done to the fuel gauge ? Inside the fuel gauge there are two coils that control the position of the needle, the direction of the current going through these needs to be reversed, once this is done and a minor adjustment made, the fuel gauge is accurate and NO external wiring needs changing and there is NO need for any special insulating washers or nylon screws etc.

How the fuel gauge works ? As mentioned two coils are used to control the direction of the pointer, the fuel sender is a simple variable resistor, with a completely empty tank there is 0 Ohms resistance, with half a tank of fuel there is 100 Ohms of resistance and with a full tank there is 200 Ohms of resistance. Because the Amphicar fuel tank is almost square the resistance is linear to fuel level, ie 25% full = 50 Ohms

If the cable from the gauge to the tank is broken or there is a bad earth on the tank then the gauge records a full tank. (Simply because there is more than 200 Ohms of resistance.)

This first picture is a photo of a schematic of the gauge from the front. (Oops, excuse the spelling !) Throughout this conversion I will reference everything as it will be when finished, that is Negative earth, the colour of the cables and there positions are original Amphicar, and do not need to be changed.

Ok, to work, disconnect the battery, ideally you should do this work as part of changing the car to negative earth but it shouldn’t do the fuel gauge any harm if it’s connected the wrong way, it just doesn’t work ! The back of the cluster gauge housing will look like this: (Note all Amphicar cluster gauges are date stamped Jan 1962, so, Happy 40th Birthday !!)


Disconnect the 3 cables from the back of the gauge and undo the 3 screws that hold it in and remove the gauge from the cluster housing, now on the bench remove the 2 small black screws that hold the face on to the fuel gauge mechanism. For some reason these have glue on their threads and are difficult to remove but come out they must, you should then have a gauge that looks like this:

The pencil is pointing to the tip of one of the two screws that need to be removed next from the back of the gauge. This releases the pointer mechanism.


Now, soldering iron out, whilst it’s warming up look carefully at the very fine wires that come out of the two coils.

The top coil has one wire connected to the case shown by the pencil tip and the other wire connected to the top pin.

The bottom coil has one wire connected to the bottom pin and one wire connected to the top pin.

The top pin has the thick brown (or sometimes green) wire connected to it.

The bottom pin has the thick red wire connected to it.

OK, here we go, first unsolder both the brown and red wires.

Step 1. Very carefully, unsolder both fine coil wires from the top pin, make sure they are separate,

Step 2. Unsolder the wire from the bottom pin and whilst it is still warm solder it to the top pin.

Step 3. Take the wire that was unsoldered from the bottom coil in step 1 and solder it to the bottom pin, whilst still hot also solder the large red wire back on to the bottom pin.

Step 4. Unsolder the second wire from the top coil where it attaches to the frame and resolder it to the top pin, now resolder the grey wire to the top pin. Step 5. Now solder the one remaining loose wire, from the top coil, to the frame.

OK, all done, soldering iron off !  Check carefully the route of the wires and confirm there are no short circuits, make sure all is neat and tidy and refit the needle mechanism.

Now refit the dial face.

It’s a good idea to check for short circuits with a meter, if there are any shorts it’s possible things could get hot and at best you’ll burn out the gauge...

Ok, if all happy then before fitting you need to calibrate, you don’t want to be running out of fuel in the middle of the lake because the gauge doesn’t go right down to empty !

With no power the gauge should show be showing less than empty, what I mean is the pointer should be below 0, if it isn’t then bend the needle stop a little bit.

Connect 12 volts positive (+ve) to the terminal labelled    on the back of the gauge (see photo, yours may be rusty) connect 12 volts negative (–ve) to the centre pin that’s labelled with the earth (ground) symbol, the gauge should now show full.

OK now with everything still connected connect a second cable from the 12 volts –ve supply to the G terminal, the needle on the gauge should now show exactly 0  If not then look back at the third photo above, to the right of the pencil is a small tab with a little slot in it, with power still connected move this slightly to the left or right until the pointer is on 0 (don’t use anything metal for this adjustment !). Remove the cable from the G terminal and the pointer should drop slightly to the stop.

Finally put a small sticker or label on the back of the gauge saying negative earth.

And that’s it !  Now fit it all back, all cables go to their original positions.

If you get stuck or don’t feel confident I’ll do this for club members on an exchange basis for, say, $25 plus shipping, email me for details.


The history of the Triumph Herald engine that is used to power the Amphicar.

The Herald engine started as 948cc in 1958. It was uprated to 1147cc (1200) in 1961 at which time is was considered the best small engine in the world for power/weight ratio and ability to run cool. This is why it was chosen for the Amphicar. In 1964 a more powerful version was developed called the 12/50. In 1968 the 1300cc version called the 13/60 became available followed by the 1500cc in 1971. The Spitfire used the same engine, normally with twin carburettors and higher compression. Up to 10:1 instead of the normal 8:1 or 8.5:1  Spitfire engines can be used in Amphicar but do not run as well at low speed, because of their more "racey" camshaft.

As you will know, the chassis on the Herald and the Amphicar is different. Amphicar designed the engine mounting bracket part number 1-01-02 so it would fit Herald engines that were used in cars with a mark 1 Herald Chassis. From 1965 a mark 2 Herald Chassis was used and the mounting points for the engine were changed to reduce vibration. Because of this almost all Herald Engines will need to have the front plate changed for the early type Amphicar type part number 1-02-24. This is not difficult to do but spare front plates are rare.


All of these engines have a serial number stamped on the block that starts with 1 or 2 letters:

G 948cc

GY 948cc

Y 948cc

GA 1147cc

GB 1147cc (export)

GE 1296cc (small crank)

GD 1147cc (50hp)

GK 1296cc (large crank) OR Amphicar 1147cc

FC 1147cc Spitfire

FD 1296cc Spitfire

FK 1296cc Spitfire

FM 1500cc Spitfire

NEW - More engine ID info at the bottom of this page.

Type 1 - GK engines,

These are Amphicar 1147cc or Herald 13/60 (1296cc). Triumph made a mistake and used the GK numbers for a second time in 1968 on the engine in the Herald 13/60. Two engines might have the same number. Be careful ordering parts from Triumph suppliers, they do not all know this. Amphicar GK engines will have a 6 port cylinder head, flat core plugs, a spring clutch, a water pump housing with temp sensor on top and an engine number less than GK5000HE. Triumph GK engines will have 8 port cylinder head and diaphragm clutch. If the engine is apart you can measure the cylinder bores. The Herald GK engine is explained in Type 6 below. The Amphicar GK engine is almost identical to the Herald GA engine, Type 2 below.


Type 2 - GA Engines,

These are engines before engine number GA190341HE These are the most common, used in Herald 1200. Power is same as Amphicar about 40 BHP. Only difference from Amphicar was water temperature sensor, which was moved to the side to clear the bonnet of the Herald.


Type 3 - GA Engines after GA190341HE and GD Engines after GD110001HE,

These are similar to GA except have more power, 48BHP, this is due to higher compression ratio 8.5 to 1 instead of 8.0 to 1 and a different camshaft. These engines are the best type to use in Amphicar, they still run cool and are very reliable. Later versions have bucket type core plugs which do not leak.


Type 4 - GD Engines up to GD103470HE,

These were used in the Herald 12/50 (50=50HP or 48BHP). These are the same as type 3 engines except they use an exhaust manifold that is more efficient but not suitable for Amphicar and must be replaced.


Type 5 - GE engines 1296cc,

These have the small diameter crankshaft and can be fitted to Amphicar. They need a different carburettor and manifold because they use and 8 port cylinder head. This is difficult to do. These engines run hotter than the 1147cc engines and are not as reliable. They give an extra 9BHP but for most Amphicar owners this is not worth the trouble.


Type 6 - GK engines 1300cc and 1500cc,

These have all the problems of a type 5 engine but because they use a larger crankshaft than the 1147cc engine the flywheel has to be re-drilled and balanced. The 1500 engine in particular runs very hot and cause many problems in Amphicar.


Spark Plugs,

Be careful with spark plugs. They are different between the 1200 and 1300/1500 engines. If you use spark plugs from the 1300/1500 in the 1200 you will burn a hole in the piston. The correct spark plugs for the 1200 are Champion L87YC and for the 1300/1500 they are N9YC.



These have the date and part number stamped on them. The part number for the 1200 is 40791, for the 1250 is 41230 and for the 1300 is 41127.


How to spot a good engine,

Crankshaft movement front to back (end float) must be checked, if this gets very bad it will cause strange clutch problems and eventually will totally destroy the engine. The manual shows how to check for wear. This is the most important thing to fix when overhauling these engines.

Wear on starter ring gear 1-03-11a is a good sign of engine use, check for broken teeth. The ring gear can be turned around to extend life (see manual)

Front crankshaft pulley, 1-03-07, this is made of Iron, if the engine is dropped this can crack or break, check carefully, also many engines leak oil from the seal behind the pulley.

Rear engine mounting plate 1-02-34 (the one with the hole for the starter motor). Check it has not been bent.

Sump (oil pan) 1-02-35. Engine is sometimes dragged around on this, check it does not have holes or is dented. It is a good idea to remove it and clean it out.


What needs to be done to fit a Herald engine in an Amphicar.

For almost all Herald engines the front plate (with the engine mounts) will need to be changed. The type used on Amphicar 1-02-24 is the same as mk1 chassis Heralds and some of the TR3 or TR4 cars. They are rare so you might have to use the old one on an Amphicar engine. To change it you need to remove the front pulley (38mm socket), then the timing cover 1-03-24 and chain (be sure to mark it with paint first !) and then the timing gear wheels. You can then unbolt the plate.

When putting everything back together you will find that the hole in the Amphicar chassis plate for the camshaft is smaller than the hole in the original Herald chassis plate. It is easy to fix this by enlarging the hole slightly with a file. Be careful when fitting the timing chain and if possible fit a new oil seal 1-03-25.

Another thing you need to do is to change the cylinder head studs 1-02-11 on the front and back where the Amphicar exhaust bracket fits. These are longer than the ones used on the Herald Engine, again it is best to use the original Amphicar ones.

Water hoses for the heater, Triumph are 1/2 inch, Amphicar are 5/8 inch (19mm). The nozzles where they fit into the engine will need to be changed, 9-29a-23.

Water Pump Housing 1-04-01a. On the Triumph engines the holes for the temperature sender units are on the side, not on the thermostat cover 1-04-31. Do not use the Triumph sender. The Amphicar one fits the same way and can be screwed into the side. If you do this it is much easier to find a thermostat that fits.

Oil filter, try and use one with a non return valve so that the oil does not drain out when the car is stopped. Almost all of these engines rattle because of lack of oil pressure when started from cold.

The Carburettor is fitted the other way around on the Herald, just turn it around.

Some engines come from the 12/50 which use a different manifold, no problem - just replace it with the 1200 or Amphicar manifold 1-05-06.

There are 2 types of clutch plate used on the Herald, Spring and Diaphragm. You will see the difference. Only the spring type can be used on Amphicar. Also remember the Herald friction plate is different because the clutch centre 1-12-11 is special for Amphicar.


Other points,

An alternator can be fitted to the engines quite easily, they are made by Lucas and used on later 1300 and 1500 engines. As well as the Alternator be sure to get the Triumph mounting block. The only problem is that to fit an alternator the car must be changed to negative earth.

Removing the cylinder head. If it does not come loose as soon as all the nuts are removed do not hit it with a hammer, Instead remove the studs on the exhaust side of the head by locking two nuts together (after soaking in penetrating fluid). These studs tend to rust in and if the head is hit with a hammer or levered with a screwdriver it can be damaged.

Dismantle the valve gear and check carefully, clean carbon off the valve stem. It is often a good idea to grind in the valves. See section on Lead-free fuel

Do not overtighten sump bolts when reassembling or sump will bend and leak

Check and clean oil pump, it is unusual for them to be worn.

These engines were not designed for unleaded petrol. Lead stops the exhaust valve seats from wearing. The unleaded kit solves this problem. It is also OK to use unleaded 50% of the time in an unmodified engine. The original exhaust valves wear quickest when they have been ground (machined) and are better once they have been used for some time and have a build up of carbon. If you use unleaded in an unmodified engine check the valve clearances often. If they decrease (close up) start using leaded again.

If you want a stainless steel exhaust for Amphicar, Bells in Swindon can make them they are very good but cost about £180. telephone 01793 619234 fax 01793 532946


Thanks to John Kipping for the following:

Engine numbers
GA Herald 1200                )
GB Herald 1200 Export         ) Similar to Spitfire FC engine
GD Herald  1200 50 BHP engine )

GE Herald 13/60 )
RD 1300 FWD     )  Similar to Spitfire FD/FE engine   
RF 1300 FWD TC  )

GK Herald 13/60       )
DG Toledo 1300        )  Similar to Spitfire MK IV FH/FK engine
DH Dolomite 1300      )
FL Spitfire IV Sweden )

WB 1500 FWD                       )
YB 1500 FWD                       )
YC 1500 RWD/Dolomite 1500 )  Similar to Spitfire 1500 engine
DM Toledo 1500 (Export only) )
DS Toledo 1500 (Export only)  )
FP Midget 1500                     )

Note 1: All 'Triumph' 1500 recon engines appear to have the DM prefix with a suffix ESS
Note 2: All 1500 blocks will take a 1300 (large bearing) crank, 1300 engines up to 1975 will not take a 1500 crank.


And thanks to Eric Kieboom for the following information:

G 948cc Herald Saloon
Y 948cc Herald Saloon TC (Twin Carb)
GA 1147cc 1200 Herald
GD 1147cc 1200, 12/50 Herald
FC 1147cc Spitfire 4, MkII
GE 1296cc Herald 13/60
GK 1296cc Late Herald 13/60
FD 1296cc Spitfire Mk3
FE 1296cc Spitfire Mk3 USA
FH 1296cc Spitfire IV
FK 1296cc Spitfire IV - USA
FL 1296cc Spitfire IV - Sweden
FM 1492cc Spitfire 1500
FM with suffix UE 1492cc Spitfire 1500 - USA
FM with suffix UCE 1492cc Spitfire 1500 - California
HB 1596cc Vitesse 6
HC 1996cc Vitesse 2 litre (MkI, MkII)
KC 1996cc GT6 MkI, MkII
KD 1996cc GT6 MkI, MkII - USA
KE 1998cc GT6 MkIII
KF 1998cc GT6 MkIII - USA
DG 1296cc 1300 Toledo
DH 1296cc 1300 Dolomite
RD or RF 1296cc 1300 Front Wheel Drive
WB 1492cc 1500 Front Wheel Drive
YC 1492cc 1500 Rear Drive/Dolomite
FP 1492cc 1500 MG Midget