Pretty she ain’t but the amazingly gifted she is, the Croco amphibious vehicle will climb mountains and boulders where no other vehicle can go, before fording a lake, with or without the optional propeller. So much so that the Swiss Army had a batch of these made to order from Germany in the 1980’s.
These highly unusual vehicles are actually split in two. They have a back and a front section (tub) which although attached, can rotate independently in the vertical plane, via a huge fixed roller bearing in the centre. This means that one of the front wheels can go over something like a 60cm rock, while the opposite rear wheel can go over another rock of the same size! This is a truly amazing ability for a reasonably small vehicle.
The giant tyres provide enough traction to get this baby straight up a 45 degree (100%) slope, or sideways on a 40 degree (85%) slope, while carrying loads of up to half a ton or six people. This has to be seen to be believed. No wonder it has a huge roll bar – you would not want to get it wrong at these angles! Take a look at this really great website for the Croco.
The Croco has Permanent 4WD and to avoid ‘wind up’ of the axles, it cleverly avoids the problem by having the rear wheels duplicate the movement of the front wheels but in the ‘opposite’, so they travel exactly the same distance and this also gives it an amazing turning ability. ‘Wind up’ is a condition where the wheels naturally try to turn at different speeds when going round a corner. With locked differentials they can’t do this. Normally, in off road conditions the soft ground permits locked 4WD wheels to skid and skip to remove the ‘wind up’ stress but on a hard surface, they may not be able to do this and the built up stress will either bring the vehicle to a standstill or snap something.
For their sin’s, the passenger has a very hot, noisy air cooled rotary NSU-Wankel engine located directly under the passenger seat.
The only other vehicle that we know of remotely like this is the American Coot but as we have never seen one up close (none seem to be in the UK), we cannot compare the two. We have tried to contact the coot website but cannot seem to get through.
Our Croco came from Scotland UK with only 18 hours on the clock and everything seized solid. It must have been stored for over twenty years from new! We have now eased the steering, pulled the engine and gearbox out and are chipping away the rust before cleaning and repainting the inside ready for fitting a spare engine and gearbox. We will probabl;y get the original engine and gearbox working in due course – so if anyone is interested?
Everything has been kept so simple on this vehicle. Even the fuel is picked up by sticking the fuel pipe into the next can.