Detours: The Birth of the WaterCar - BodyShop Business

Detours: The Birth of the WaterCar

Inspired by the Amphicar of the 1960s, Dave March of Fountain Valley Bodyworks decided to craft his own hydro-friendly vehicle.

This month takes me to sunny California. As they say, things are a bit different out here. The “Saturday Night Live” skit with Steve Martin keeps running through my mind. You know, the one with Bill Murray where they keep saying, “What the hell is that?” Well, I think I’ve found the answer.

Dave March runs Fountain Valley Bodyworks in Fountain Valley, Calif. The shop has 13 technicians and two painters, and each painter has two helpers. The techs have the luxury of three bays each to work in, plus their own lifts. This allows the shop to move 500 cars a month. Parking space is a problem, so Dave built his own parking structure on top of the shop. They have five DRPs and use PPG waterborne products.

Dave has been in the auto body repair business since the 1970s and has been on both sides of consolidation, but he always seems to end up back in the business. His son, Michael, runs an additional express location, and Mrs. March has kept an eye on the financials since Dave began his collision career.

This is where things separate from the normal collision repair shop. You see, Dave was always fascinated by the ’60s Amphicar. He had actually done some restorations on them and knew they could be improved. The original versions tended to leak and only went about six miles per hour. Hence, the WaterCar was born.

Dave has been working on this project for almost 20 years. I first saw one on YouTube about four years ago, and the current version is absolutely unbelievable. It sort of looks like a Jeep, but that’s where all similarities end. It has a custom-made chassis and a proprietary hull/body design that allows it to be driven directly from land into water and speed off. Yes, I said speed off! You can water-ski, tube or just zip around at more than 40 miles per hour.

These incredible vehicles are in production, and more information can be found at If you’re interested, kits are available for purchase, and you can add your own power. Dave believes it’s a potential profit center for shops, and he welcomes the opportunity to discuss it with you.

Dave, your shop is a tribute to your passion for the collision industry, and the Watercar is a great example of innovation at work. Thanks for letting us see them both.

Happy sailing! And now you know what the heck that is!

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