In 2004, John Giljam, president of Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International in Bluffton, S.C., built the Terra Wind, an amphibious motor home. Because he could. “We built it for ourselves,” he says. “We’ve taken it coast to coast, and it’s the flagship of our company. We haven’t sold another one, but there’s always interest.”
Giljam built the 42½-foot, 15½-ton vehicle to show the abilities of his company, which manufactures amphibious tour buses. The Terra Wind has a top speed of 80 mph on land and up to about 8 mph on the water. Power is a rear-mounted diesel that drives the axle on land and twin inboards in the water. The propellers spin in tunnels in the aluminum hull. Depending on options, the price is about $1.2 million.
CAMI has also built 79 amphibious passenger tour buses that are used in 27 countries. They meet all emissions standards, Giljam says, and they’re unsinkable. “We designed a way to encase flotation foam,” he says. “If you put a 6-inch hole in the bottom, the foam forms a pontoon on each side of the hull within itself, so the water only floods the hull center. The vessel is unsinkable even fully loaded.”
The tour vehicles price out at $500,000 in the United States and $550,000 for those that head overseas. They are about 39 feet long and carry 49 passengers and two crewmembers.
Gijam has no plans to build more Terra Winds.
This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue.