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Homes where you can live under the sea

Homes where you can live under the sea

Underwater hideouts may be the domain of James Bond villains and Gerry Anderson's Stingray puppets but people in the real world are also dreaming about living at the bottom of...

03 Sep 2014 Thunderbird 2

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These Dudes Made a Boat Out of Plastic Bottles… Now They Are Sailing Over 500 Miles!

These Dudes Made a Boat Out of Plastic Bottles… Now They Are Sailing Over 500 Miles!

Jan Kara, 22, a student, and mechanic Jakub Bures, 21, like many of us, are tired of seeing pollution all around the world. In their Czech town of Nymburk, the duo...

20 Aug 2014 Thunderbird 2

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A superyacht-friendly submersible

A superyacht-friendly submersible

Tired of being told that the recreational submersible you want is too tall to fit into your superyacht? Dutch submersible manufacturer U-Boat Worx knows how you feel and is launching...

05 Aug 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Life-Saving Luxury Raft Turns Sea Water into Drinking Water

Life-Saving Luxury Raft Turns Sea Water into Drinking Water

Dangers of the ocean are well documented: sharks, storms with gargantuan waves, seasickness and, if one’s boat has sunk, swimming for shore through a mine field of stinging jellyfish or...

15 May 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Turkish team set to compete in Volvo Ocean Race

Turkish team set to compete in Volvo Ocean Race

A group of young dashing racers are training and going through their paces in Lisbon’s harbor these days. There is sun, good wind and a magnificent boat to sail –...

06 May 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Suspension-packing 2Play catamaran smooths out rough seas

Suspension-packing 2Play catamaran smooths out rough seas

Water may seem soft enough when you're in a bathtub full of the stuff, but as anyone who has smacked across the waves in a speeding motorboat knows, it can...

02 May 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Brilliant Boats in Superyacht Magazine

Brilliant Boats in Superyacht Magazine

An article about  us in Superyacht magazine. CLICK HERE to download the PDF version.

16 Apr 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Brilliant Boats' Thunderbird 2

Brilliant Boats' Thunderbird 2

An article about our Thunderbird 2 in Yachts International magazine, April 2014 issue. CLICK HERE to download the PDF version.

16 Apr 2014 Thunderbird 2

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The Mast Walk

The Mast Walk

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28 Mar 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Watch a large ship getting deformed from the inside in a heavy storm

Watch a large ship getting deformed from the inside in a heavy storm

On the left, a ship in a heavy storm as seen from the deck, going through giant waves. On the right, a ship in a heavy storm seen from a...

26 Mar 2014 Thunderbird 2

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The Flying Phantom: US$40k sailboat levitates two feet above the waves

The Flying Phantom: US$40k sailboat levitates two feet above the waves

“It’s like removing the handbrake – suddenly everything gets smoother and faster in pure silence.” This gravity-defying US$40k catamaran rises completely out of the water at speed on a pair...

11 Mar 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Amphibious trimaran is made for more than just water

Amphibious trimaran is made for more than just water

Here's one you might not have heard before ... Whaddaya get when cross a hovercraft, an airboat and a pontoon boat? Give up? An ATASD, or Amphibious Trimaran with Aerostatic...

24 Feb 2014 Thunderbird 2

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5 security measures that every yacht owner should take

5 security measures that every yacht owner should take

Sailing the open seas can be one of the most thrilling endeavors that anyone takes on, however even the most experienced sailor will warn you about the great risk that...

19 Feb 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Thunderbird 2

Thunderbird 2

Thunderbird 2 has launched in Antalya Free Zone, Turkey! Brilliant Boats and BB Yacht are proud to announce the launch of Thunderbird 2. Fans of Gerry Anderson will understand immediately what this...

03 Feb 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Discovery Channel: Superyachts (5 episodes)

Discovery Channel: Superyachts (5 episodes)

The Discovery Channel visited some superyacht builders in the Netherlands and give some insights of the high quality superyacht building. Here are five of six episodes. Enjoy!   Balk Shipyard {youtube}vM6qt_hd9E8|700|450{/youtube} Hakvoort {youtube}T4ozSE_meFM|700|450{/youtube} Vripack 1 {youtube}i2ez55KJRfQ|700|450{/youtube} Vripack 2 {youtube}oOze8e65--k|700|450{/youtube} Icon Yachts {youtube}IwjwvlI3jwM|700|450{/youtube}

16 Jan 2014 Thunderbird 2

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Wokart: The 70 km/h go-kart for the water

Wokart: The 70 km/h go-kart for the water

The Wokart is a featherweight asymmetric catamaran with a centrally-located 70 hp outboard motor that's designed to have the driving characteristics and low power-to-weight of a go-kart. The automotive seating and...

10 Dec 2013 Thunderbird 2

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Rolls Royce to design ship that carries fish as passengers

Rolls Royce to design ship that carries fish as passengers

Building a ship to carry fish as passengers may seem like a phenomenal case of missing the point, but Rolls-Royce has signed a £5.8 million (US$9.5 million) contract to design...

09 Dec 2013 Thunderbird 2

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The Biggest Ship in the World Has Floated For the First Time

The Biggest Ship in the World Has Floated For the First Time

The Emma Maersk was dethroned as the world's largest seafaring vessel this morning when this ship, longer than the Empire State Building, left its dry dock in South Korea for...

06 Dec 2013 Thunderbird 2

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Manta Resort offers a private island where you sleep beneath the waves

Manta Resort offers a private island where you sleep beneath the waves

Underwater accommodations seem to have become a trend among hotels in recent years, but a resort off the coast of Tanzania is now putting a unique spin on the concept. The Manta...

21 Nov 2013 Thunderbird 2

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Stunning night images of a nuclear ice breaker in the middle of nowhere

Stunning night images of a nuclear ice breaker in the middle of nowhere

Sergey Dolya took some incredible photos in an expedition to the North Pole on board a RussianArktika-class nuclear ice breaker. In the words of Buzz Aldrin, "Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation." By the...

08 Nov 2013 Thunderbird 2

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Jet Capsule Miniature Luxury Yacht

Jet Capsule Miniature Luxury Yacht

Although by definition, it’s not technically a yacht, the Jet Capsule aims to bring the same luxury experience on the water (with family and friends) through a much smaller, more maneuverable solution. Designed...

24 Oct 2013 Thunderbird 2

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Costa Concordia operation could spew toxic soup of rotting food and chemicals into sea

Costa Concordia operation could spew toxic soup of rotting food and chemicals into sea

There are fears that the operation could pollute the pristine waters of Giglio, the Italian island where the ship capsized last year. The Costa Concordia was at the start of a week-long cruise...

16 Sep 2013 Thunderbird 2

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World's largest solar-powered boat cruises into London

World's largest solar-powered boat cruises into London

It is one of the most iconic ports in the world, the dramatic backdrop to everything from ancient Roman sailing ships to World War Two military vessels and gas-guzzling speedboats. Now...

09 Sep 2013 Thunderbird 2

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Billionaire death race: inside America's Cup and the world's most dangerous sailboat

Billionaire death race: inside America's Cup and the world's most dangerous sailboat

Capsized yachts and a sailor’s death cast a pall over this week’s finals The finals of the 34th America's Cup are days away, but they will take place in the long shadow cast...

05 Sep 2013 Thunderbird 2

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Tuesday, 02 July 2013 11:08

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Recreational amphibious vehicles are nothing new, but most are one-offs, and most tend to be boats that can creep on land, or cars that slosh slowly through water. There are exceptions, notably entries from Gibbs, but arguably, amphibious vehicles have not made the grade as true all-round vehicles that can be driven to work during the week, and on the lake on weekends. WaterCar's new Panther straddles the divide.

Take a Jeep CJ-8, put a Honda Acura 3.7-liter V6 in the back to provide 305 hp, add a fiberglass hull, retracting wheels, and a jet boat drive and you've got the new Panther from WaterCar, which it claims is the world's fastest amphibious car. Capable of doing over 80 mph (127 km/h) on the road and 44 mph (70 km/h) on the water, the Panther is equipped with a long-travel off-road suspension that allows access to less user-friendly lakes. The appearance of the Panther takes after the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler, with a stretched wheelbase that provides extra interior room.

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Because the Jeep chassis proved too heavy, so WaterCar designed a lightweight chassis made of chromoly steel. Having properties (weldability, formability, strength, ductility and toughness) that greatly exceed those of regular carbon steel, the choice of chromoly steel, while pricey, solved the Panther's weight problem.

The Panther's chassis was designed to slip neatly into a fiberglass hull, and is secured therein by modern epoxies, thereby reducing noise and shimmy during hard handling. The hull and chassis incorporate advanced composites where extra strength and toughness is required, and the hull is filled with closed-cell styrofoam, rendering the Panther nearly unsinkable.

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What goes inside the hull and chassis includes a powerful powertrain that provides motive force both on land and water. The engine for the Panther is the latest-generation Acura 3.7-liter VTEC V-6 engine. An all-aluminum powerplant, the V-6 is equipped with single overhead camshaft cylinder heads and 24 valves. Both intake and exhaust valves are controlled by Acura's Variable valve Timing and lift Electronic Control (VTEC) system.

This 3.7-liter engine is a bored and stroked version of the Acura 3.5-liter engine. As this left little clearance between the cylinders, the cast-in iron cylinder liners of the 3.5 liter were replaced by high-silicon aluminum liners. This results in better cooling and tighter piston ring seals. The compact and efficient 3.7-liter engine produces 305 horsepower at 6,300 rpm with special emphasis on mid-range torque giving this VTEC a peak torque of 274 lb-ft (371 Nm) at 4,500 rpm.

The Panther uses WaterCar's own transfer case with Winter's Quick Change gears and components to transfer power between a model 091 VW Vanagon bus four-speed manual transaxle driving the rear wheels, and the H450 Panther Jet drive. WaterCar's transfer case is rated at 1,000 hp, so should have a long service life in the Panther. The H450 Panther Jet drive is rated to 500 hp input.

Enough tech specs – how does the Panther perform? On the road the Panther is capable of a maximum speed somewhere north of 80 mph (128 km/h). Acceleration times are not yet available, but with 305 hp (232 kW) driving a car weighing just under 3,000 lb (1,340 kg), it is reasonable to expect snappy, if not extreme, acceleration. The VTEC engine has a compression ratio of 11.1:1, and requires 91-octane premium gasoline to avoid detonation.

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Entering the water can be done at speeds up to 15 mph (24 km/h) if there is no step higher than about six inches (15 cm) and the beach is sufficiently firm. Some spectacular entries and exits from the water appear on the video below. Once in the water, the pilot places the four-speed in neutral, pulls a knob to switch the transfer case over to jet drive, pushes a knob to hydraulically lift the wheels and tires out of the water, and start boating. The entire procedure takes less than 15 seconds.

Once in the water, the Panther is remarkably stable for a boat that is only 15 ft (4.6 m) in length. It leans a bit in tight turns, but makes the most of the low center of gravity resulting from having both automotive and marine drive systems. This also renders the Panther a bit reluctant to get out of the hole to planing speed, but the amphib appears to handle well at its top speed of nearly 45 mph (72 km/h).

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Remarkably, the Panther maintains an even keel on the water even when stopped. It appears to be slightly low at the stern, but at most by an inch or two. The video shows a person diving from the Panther, which again appears to take the sudden shift of weight in stride. The Panther has all the power and speed needed to pull water skiers or wakeboarders, with the vehicles getting up to enough speed to let even most barefoot skiers to get on top of the water.

The Panther's design also allows it to function well as an off-road vehicle. This is due in part to the Jeep heritage together with the wide 30X9.50R15 tires, but is mainly the result of WaterCars designing a long-travel suspension system for the Panther. The primary purpose for this suspension was to allow the Panther to drive directly in and out of the water without requiring a slipway, but in the end it also gives the Panther a chance to shine on, for example, Arizona sand dunes.

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As a rear wheel drive, it is probably best to go off-road only in locations with which you are familiar, or together with a four-wheel drive vehicle that can tow you out of soft spots. Despite that, there are many situations in which off-roading just adds to the Panther's potential for fun.

All in all, early descriptions of WaterCar's Panther suggest that it will provide real enjoyment to anyone living on or near water. The Panther is pricey, starting at US$76,000 for a "Rolling chassis", $106,000 for a "Turn-key minus" version, and $135,000 for a complete Panther. The reason for the uncompleted models is that WaterCar's legal and regulatory requirements are far less if they sell kits instead of completed vehicles.

The rolling chassis requires a good bit of work and additional components, but the components can be bought off the shelf. The Turn-key minus version lacks the engine and automobile side of the powertrain. If buying a complete Panther, WaterCar's approach will be to find an outside firm that will complete your amphib for you.

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Perhaps the fairest price comparison for the Panther is with separate vehicles. A decent off-road capable car that will tow a boat trailer that carries a 45 mph (72 km/h) boat. When you look at it that way, the price seems a bit more in line. Besides, being able to drive to a lake, drive into the lake, speed past gawking landlubbers, go back to ground for a nice meal, and then slipping into the water to enjoy a slow twilight cruise through the span of London Bridge (now in Lake Havasu, Arizona) before returning to the road home is surely worth a bit of sticker shock.

Source: WaterCar