Winter Address 6823 Fern Cr. Leesburg Florida 34748 T 352-301-7022
Story part 1
part 2 part 3
below was copied from a Canadian auto mag and modified a
Know You're An Out Of Control Hobbyist When...
You own ten pristine restored old cars, but your daily driver is a
Your idea of a family vacation is visiting every old car show and museum
in North America.
You fill your children's Christmas stockings with car waxes, washes and
You promise to take your spouse out to dinner as soon as they finish
waxing the '62 Amphicar.
All your boxer shorts have old cars on them.
You try to restore a rusty Russian built Lada Niva! Particularly when it
is laying upside down in the woods.
You spend Valentines Day in the garage with your Amphicar.
The bathroom door no longer closes because of the number of old car
magazines on the floor.
You haven't cut the grass for six months except for a path to the
Your garage is four times the square footage of your house.
You look for clean overalls in the laundry truck left in the wrecking
yard twenty years earlier.
Nobody can take a bath because the tub is filled with rusty car parts
soaking in a toxic solution.
Your front lawn is a parking lot filled with old car projects.
You try to shoot the dog because he went to lift his leg on the wheel of
your 1964 Amphicar.
When you take your kids to an old car show and forget and leave without
You remember the exact date your DeSoto left the assembly line, but you
forget your wedding anniversary.
You start parking cars in the basement.
You try to rip the heart out of your 1953 Hudson Hornet because it won't
You do all your Christmas shopping in an Auto Parts store.
When you spend more money on a set of new hub caps for your '65 Amphicar
than you do on your spouse's fortieth birthday party.
You prefer the smell of gasoline and oil to aftershave and perfume.
You've been out in the garage so much that you don't recognize the
strangers in your house-and they're your family.
You've painted your car three times in ten years and your clapboard
house only once in thirty.
You don't allow your children within thirty feet of your restored
Dusenberg SJ Phaeton and put in electric fencing just to make sure.
When you sit behind the wheel of your 426 Hemi Charger and rev it out,
all the time with an inane grin on your face as your mother-in-law walks
up the driveway.
Every tool in your garage is exactly where it should be, but you haven't
put anything away in the house for months.
You put a television, refrigerator, CD player and an easy chair in your
Every discussion attempted you turn into a tirade on old cars.
Somebody says " Good Morning" and you reply with "
Particularly for driving my 1930 Model A Ford. It's a five window coupe,
painted original green and black. I found it in a wrecking yard back in
I think it all started back in
the ‘50’s; my father was a Hudson dealer and mechanic in Hamilton
Ontario, so I have always had a love of cars. I can remember seeing a
BLUE Amphicar floating down the Grand River where we used to go boating
with the family. WOW, now that was something.
Throughout the years I have had
my share of vehicles, including a ’57 FORD-“yellow belly”; a Dodge
van renovated from a Bell telephone repair truck; a Metropolitan; 1929
Model A Ford; even a couple of Volkswagen bugs, but I always remembered
My Amphi history goes back to
the Fall of 1994 when I answered an ad from the Buy and Sell shopper
magazine that I had kept in my files for over a year.
The lady who answered had no
idea what I was talking about at first but then, oh yeah, that was my
ex’s and it’s in the shed out in the back still and you know what, I
need a new coat for the winter. So, I hooked up an old skidoo trailer
and was out to her place very quickly. Now, the ad had said it had no
engine, but, it had nothing! No transmission, no interior and not even a
windshield. I offered her $150.00 and she accepted.
Now I needed parts. So, I put an
ad in the Shopper and to my surprise got a call. He had 4 parts cars. A
deal was struck and, with
the help of a bunch of great friends we got them home. Out of the 5 cars
I have completely restored 2 Amphicars.
The first I painted blue and was
finished by the spring of 1995. By the way, I have the winters free so
this is when I do a lot of my restoration.
It was during this time that I
met Rudy Steinmetz who lived about an hour away. He had 3 Amphicars and
tons of parts. He was very helpful and sold me quite a few of the parts
to complete my projects. When he was moving to Victoria BC he sold me
one of his cars.
Over the next winter I
completely disassembled the next car and sent it out to be acid dipped.
Within a year this car was totally restored and painted white back to
The blue car was my favourite and
caused quite a stir around our lakes and at car shows.
I have trailered the blue ’64
to Florida twice for the Mt. Dora show. Last year I stayed down in
Florida for a month and a half trying to get in every lake that had a
ramp into it. The water was very low due to the drought and I got stuck
in a hole once. My biggest scare was the day I forgot to put in the
drain plug. I got back to the ramp just in time.
After the last Mt. Dora show I
met up with Chuck Bortz and a deal was made. The blue Amp. Stayed
On returning home the white car
was revitalized for it’s first swim and I waited for the Orillia Boat
Show with thousands of spectators for it’s debut. I’m not the shy
Minor leaks were found and
sealed up over the next few weeks and I used an idea from fellow Amphi
Dave Monier of Florida. I installed
Lexan glass floors so you can see if there are any leaks.
I am having so much fun and
meeting so many other Amphi owners
that it is time to move on to the next stage of this disease. As I am
writing this I am on my way out to Victoria BC to buy Rudi’s remaining
2 cars and all of his Amphicar parts.
WOW!!! What a day.
Rudy Steinmetz is one of the
nicest and most honest and trusting man I have ever met. (aren’t all
At this point I have no idea
what I have bought in parts as most were already boxed up for shipping
when I got there but there are thousands!!!! This must be the 2nd
largest stock of Amphicar parts in North America. It will likely take me
all winter to inventory it all.
As for the cars, I didn’t have
much time to thoroughly go over them but, the 1st one is a
red ’62 with a good interior and the other is a white ’67 and could
be taken to shows as is but I think at this time my plan would be to
totally restore both.
We loaded all of this into a
70ft. transport truck for shipping back to Orillia Ontario, over 3000
miles. I was very grateful to have a friend from my days of living out
in Calgary now living in Vancouver and he very graciously came over with
his father in law to help. Great time for a reunion too.
Rudy had made some aluminium ramps that would sit on the ledge of the trailer 4 ½ inches up. There
was a small ledge there so we put some wood shims to make a smooth flow
and strapped them down. As I drove the first car up and into the trailer
the rear wheels spun on the plywood shooting the ramps down and out, the
car fell down on the transport ledge just in front of the rear tires.
Being inside the car I didn’t know what was going on, everyone was
yelling. I just thought the car had bottomed out, I couldn’t get out
of the car or remove my foot from the brake for fear of it tipping
out of the trailer, I felt like I was in the movies sitting on
the edge of a cliff.
The front of the car was then
secured, back end jacked up and blocked, the ramps were reinstalled and
we all pushed the car in the last two feet. No harm was done and we all
had a good laugh after that.
We were more careful with the
second car and hand winched it in. Then with everyone’s help we loaded
the rest of the parts, including 2 spare engines, one is brand new. 3
spare transmissions, again one is brand new. sheet metal panels (2
complete rear fenders with the hump) filling about 40 feet of the
After loading, Ruth, Rudy’s
wife fed us all a great meal and the truck was on his way by 3 pm.
I’ll be seeing him at my place in 6 days. He actually phoned yesterday
from Manitoba telling me all was still secured and safe..
early October, 2001 the parts finally arrived from British Columbia. The
53 ft. transport arrived in my laneway and when the doors were opened
everything seemed to be in the same condition it was in when it left
from Rudy’s. To unload the Amphicars, we used a flatbed trailer tilted
from transport to ground. The cars were carefully removed from the
transport and directly into the shop then came the boxes and drawers and
cabinets from the transport. Everything was just piled into the shop
from one end to the other...on top of the cars and off to the sides,
again not looking at anything that was there. After we were unloaded I
gave the Transport driver a ride in my Amphicar and he was on his way.
this time I still had no idea what was really in the shop. A call was
made to a local fellow to do a television interview with me as I opened
some of the boxes and explained a little about the Amphicar. With the TV
camera rolling we opened boxes to find out what was inside. We found
radiator hoses, emblems, bearings, seals...almost every part of the car
was there. We had a great day opening boxes and we were going to go for
a ride in one of my finished cars when the skies opened and the rain
fell and that ended the day.
it took me a few weeks to sort out all of the parts in the shop, just to
look at them and understand what I had, all in all about a month to get
things sorted and put in the house basement where I had to do some
renovating. I ended up drywalling the basement and fixing up a room with
shelves to hold everything. I started taking inventory and after about
$300,000.00 I gave up and started organizing again, which took another
month to get an accurate account of the stock.
this time, many club members, and of course Hugh Gordon, had found out
about me getting these parts. I decided to use Gordon’s prices and
give a 15% discount, all the trim and chrome parts started flying out
the door. I didn’t know that many of these parts, I was selling at a
discount, had not been available anywhere for a long time. I learned
plans in the Fall of 2001 was to restore the 4 Amphicars I owned and
sell off the remaining stock. Some silly trades were made at the
beginning that I regret now. I spent the rest of 2001-02 winter
restoring a green ‘62 with tons of NOS parts.
the summer of 2003 I decided I would close the houseboat rental business
at the end of the year and go into the Amphicar business full time
and redoing cars. A lady friend, Alfea Miller who I had met in the
Houseboat business had already made interiors for my cars and agreed to
make them for customers. I found other sources for brakes, convertible
tops, engine parts and fibreglass reproductions and now even metal body
pieces. I can reproduce on a small scale, door panel, front hood skins
shop has advanced to a precision Amphicar Rebuilding facility with a
special custom made Amphicar rotisserie. I work alone and produce a
start to finish car in about 6 months, replacing body panels in
fibreglass or custom made steel panels.
bought a motorhome in 2005 and try to make as many Amphicar swim-ins
(our version of a car show) as possible always bringing a car and some
spare parts to the shows. I have droped off special orders along the way
travelling from Ontario to Florida, New Hampshire, Illinois and even a
special trip to California meeting so many fabulous owners and their
spouses along the way. The hospitality and warmth I have received by
this group of Amphicar enthusiasts has made working in this environment
the best job a man could have.
Date I have almost restored about 20 Amphicar completely with lot of
small jobs along the way.