The Swiss Museum of Transport is showing off four amphibious vehicles at the Geneva Motor Show. The oldest of the batch is a Volkswagen Typ 166 (also known as the Schwimmwagen) that was built in 1943 and used during World War II.
Development of the Typ 166 began in April of 1941 as a way to address the shortcomings of the Typ 128, a similar amphibious vehicle that was rushed into production to help Germany’s war effort. Working with Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche, designers gave the 166 a shorter wheelbase to increase its off-road capacity and a revised suspension setup.
No changes were made under the hood and the 166 was powered by the same 1,131cc air-cooled flat-four engine that was found in the back of the 128. A four-speed manual transmission sent power to either all four wheels or to a three-blade propeller mounted in the back of the car, and sources indicate that the 24.5-horsepower 166 boasted a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) on land and just 6.2 mph (10 km/h) in water.
Roughly 14,000 examples of the Typ 166 were built from 1942 to 1944.