At around 10.15am on Friday, (21 July), a special breed of nautical Panda slipped into the sea at Folkestone, Kent, not merely with the idea of enjoying a refreshing swim, but with the specific intention of reaching the French coast and then driving all the way home to Italy!
Just over six hours later, at 4.30pm London time, to the undisguised amazement of unsuspecting French holiday makers, Panda Terramare 4 powered proudly out of the sea, as its 4WD system drove it up a French beach at Cap Griz Nez, thus completing an epic 25 mile maritime journey across one of the busiest seaways in the world.
Panda Terramare 4 is of course no stranger to water, and having frolicked in the great Italian lakes, the River Po and the Mediterranean off Sardinia, it sailed from Naples to Capri and back before arriving in the UK for its greatest test.
Training for the Channel crossing took place on Thursday evening, (20 July), in south-west London’s Battersea Park Lake, where surprised lakeside party-goers found themselves sharing Terramare’s snug cockpit with the owner as he checked out all the machine’s systems prior to its cross-Channel ‘dash’.
Panda Terramare’s creator is Milan born Maurizio Zanisi, an independent former Iso Rivolta engineer, and his self-built amphibian is based on a Panda 4×4 chassis, but with an inflatable flotation belt, and waterjet propulsion driven off the rear axle.