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The term “car boat” can be used either to refer to a boat powered by the engine of a car, or to an amphibious vehicle which can be used as a car or a boat, depending on the conditions. A number of variations on the car boat exist, from high end products produced by specialty manufacturers to versions made at home by hobbyists. One of the most famous examples of a car boat appeared in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, in which a car which converts into a submarine plays a prominent role.
In the sense of a boat powered by the engine of a car and sometimes built on the chassis of a car, a car boat is usually a home made boat. Car boats can be used for a variety of purposes, including navigating in the open ocean, and they are generally intended for practical, rather than recreational use. The approach to construction and conversion can vary, depending on the skills of the boat builder and the application for which the car boat will be utilized.
When people think of a car boat, they often think specifically of an amphibious vehicle with the ability to be used as a car or a boat. These types of car boats are sometimes built by enthusiasts as recreational vehicles, although they can also have some practical purposes. Manufacturers of sports cars and sports boats may also team up to create unique car boats which are designed for performance and speed.
Building a craft which is capable of being street legal and navigating the water is quite a challenge. Wheels tend to create drag, which makes a vehicle less functional in the water, and car boats must have systems in place to compensate for this, such as retractable wheels or wheel covers which can be used in the water. Other concerns include handling in the water as compared to handling on land, in addition to seaworthiness.
Whether built by a hobbyist or purchased from a manufacturer, car boats tend to be expensive propositions. The special design requirements necessitate a unique skill set and some very distinctive parts which can be expensive to acquire or fabricate. A premium is also placed on such watercraft because of their versatility and perceived desirability. High quality car boats are sometimes used in racing and other sporting events in which people have an opportunity to show off and compare their car boats.