another article

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Dougn200

Guest
Host of `The Weakest Link' TV show
turns heads on Lake Havasu with Amphicar
By Sharon Dunham
Jay Leno's immense collection of cars and motorcycles is legendary.
So game show host George Gray figured the only way to out-cool the
cool master was to buy an Amphicar, a strange car that turns into a
boat when it's driven right into the water.
Leno didn't bat an eye, though, when Gray drove his latest
acquisition onto the parking lot of NBC's Burbank studio, where both
Leno and Gray, host of "The Weakest Link" tape their programs.
"He (Leno) just said it was a cute car, but he said he won't buy
one," Gray said. "If he had really liked it, he would have fawned
all over it."
Gray was not short of admirers Friday, though, in Lake Havasu City
when he drove the car from his friends' home to the Lake Havasu
Marina on the island. Pedestrians on the London Bridge, motorists
and boaters all slowed down for a second look, many pointing in the
direction of the car long after it had passed.
It was worth that lingering look.
The height of Gray's seafoam green car has been trimmed to
accommodate a V-shaped boat bow in front. So the car rides high,
giving it an oddly disproportionate look in comparison to the
wheels.
A pair of boat propellers protrudes just below the trunk opening.
Waving in the breeze, a small American flag tops off the car's
sporty look from the trunk lid, where a boat light is attached.
As a car, the Amphicar is equipped with turn signals, headlights and
windshield wipers. As a boat, it has transom lights, horn, bilge
pump, life jackets, fire extinguisher, an oar and a rope. Gray pays
both car and boat registration fees.
All that equipment on board was reassuring when Gray, with his
girlfriend, Meegan Naudin beside him, drove down a steeply pitched
launch ramp into the water.
"When the nose first hits the water, it goes under, and it takes
buoyancy to pop it back up," Gray said. "It happens every time I do
it. There's that fraction of a second when I think, `this thing
won't float,' and then in the next second, it's floating. I never
get over that first feeling of panic."
If people like this car, it's because it's "really cute," not
because it's a high performance vehicle, Gray said.
"It's slower than a slug in molasses," he said. "It will not get out
of its own way. A hurricane would not make this thing do 80 miles an
hour. Down hill, top speed, with the wind behind you, it'll do 65 to
70."
And as a boat, it's not much better. Gray said when it reaches its 7
miles-an-hour top speed, it trails a "little bit of a wake."
That slowness hardly matters since other boaters continually cut
Gray off to ask questions.
Even the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department gets in on the act.
"They came up behind us on their boat, and we thought we were going
to get in trouble," Gray said. "We felt like we were about 16 years
old. And then one of the guys got on the bullhorn and said, `Your
right rear tire is low.' They thought they were so funny."
Gray anticipated the attention when he bought the car for $28,000 a
year ago from a Missouri owner. Immediately after that, someone
offered him about $40,000 for it.
"This is definitely the silliest vehicle of all the bikes and cars I
have," Gray said.
About 3,600 Amphicars have been produced, but now only about 300
exist worldwide.
A former host of the television show "Junkyard Wars," which
challenges participants to build specific vehicles from abandoned
parts, Gray has two seasons of "The Weakest Link" under his belt
after taking over from the original host. Two different episodes of
the program are aired weekdays in Lake Havasu City on the ABC
network, cable channel 15, in the late afternoon and early evening.
Gray left his Tucson home 13 years ago for California, but still
calls Arizona his home. He and his girlfriend, along with their
friend, Trevor Ziemba, are visiting the Ljubetics family over the
weekend.
 
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