Built around a Suzuki Jimny and powered by that vehicle’s standard 1.3-litre petrol engine, it’s only when you clamber over the tall sides of the vehicle – sorry, boat – that you have any inkling that this little amphibian, called a Platypus, is, or was, a Suzuki.
This article was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s August 2010 issue
The standard Suzuki chassis has been encased in a fibreglass hull, so while the outside of the vehicle may be completely unique, the interior is standard Jimny. There is only an extra lever to contend with and that is to engage the custom-made Hamilton-style water jet drive.
The power to drive the jet comes off the transfer box, while steering in the water is still via the front wheels – it seems to work surprisingly well. A twin propeller arrangement can be fitted if a customer orders a craft that is destined to spend long periods in the water. Twin props aid economy but reduce speed.
All up weight is 1100kg and, being a boat of sorts, it does have a bilge pump capable of pumping around 3785 litres an hour, if needs be. Top speed on land is over 100km/h, but the off-road ability is not quite as good as the original Jimny. On water the craft has a top speed of seven knots, or around 12-13km/h.
History lesson: Suzuki 4x4s
The Platypus has a surprising amount of freeboard, and from what we could see, as it was tested in a two-metre swell, it handled the tough conditions with aplomb. There is also a rough water version that, when the hatches are closed, takes on the qualities of a small submarine.
Now, if you want to get afloat in something a little different, or for more information on the Platypus, Sean O’Donnell, phone (07) 4669 4022.
OZAMPHIBIAN PLATYPUS SPECS:
Vehicle: 2005 Suzuki Jimny
Owner: Sean O’Donnell
Engine type: M13AVVT, 1328cc inline-4
Engine mods: Stock
Power: 62.5kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 110Nm at 4100rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Front: Suzuki three-link rigid axle, gas/oil dampers and uprated heavy-duty replacement coil springs
Rear: Suzuki three-link rigid axle, gas/oil dampers and uprated heavy-duty replacement coil springs
WHEELS & TYRES
205/70R15 factory steel rims with Bridgestone Dueler H/Ts
Composite fibreglass hull encasing original Jimny chassis. No doors. Rear drums converted to disc brakes. Diff breathers extended through hull. Transfer case double sealed on wet side. Handbrake internalised with own caliper. Headlights sealed beams and waterproofed. Low maintenance diffs and underside metal parts all anti-corrosion treated. Exhaust run to clear of the water.
Standard Suzuki Jimny, apart from Jet drive engagement lever. Aircon retained as is the CD player.
Standard version takes around three months to build and costs $55,000 ex GST. Custom orders are easily accommodated.