Searching For Bearcat Motors Amphicars

You may (or not) know that I have come into the possession of all the company records for an Amphicar only dealership from Detroit in 1967 called Bearcat Motors. I am looking for all of the 50 cars sold by this dealer, but I need to know by using your VIN code to be sure.

If you indeed have one of these cars, I will have the original sales documents for it. I want to provide these papers to you as the original history of the car to accompany it as the car is passed along to future owners. I may have other interesting information and history to share about your car including any promotional activity or even footage of your car in films I have from the dealership!

I am writing stories about the cars and the dealership. The research I am doing leads me to ask the forum if anyone has one of these cars. If you do, it would be great to know the history of it since you acquired it to help tell the story back toward the original sale. As you are aware, these cars are the stars and most have some very interesting history behind them that even the current owners do not know about. One of the Bearcat cars was sold in 1967 and spent 45 years in Northport, Michigan. When the original owner passed away it was left to the city of Northport who ultimately auctioned it off. The high bidder was Hugh Gordon and he sold it to the owner of the Boathouse restaurant in Disney where it is one of the two red cars there giving rides to customers today!

To help complete more of these stories, I need to locate the cars and identify them using the VIN codes. If you would like to provide that to me, I will promise to keep it confidential and if it matches, tell more of the story, and send you the original sales documents from your car.

Here are the VIN codes I am looking for. I have found several already.

100 329103 792106 522 278106 522 352106 522 642106 523 089
100 437103 795106 522 294106 522 360106 522 644106 523 133
100 835106 521 898106 522 301106 522 393106 522 657106 523 158
101 714106 521 969106 522 315106 522 454106 522 680106 523 607
103 073106 522 229106 522 318106 522 496106 522 733106 524 183
103 297106 522 252106 522 328106 522 633106 522 898
103 315106 522 265106 522 339106 522 635106 523 041
103 385106 522 267106 522 348106 522 640106 523 042


If you have one of these cars, please let me know and I will take it from there.

Thanks, and remember "If you don't have an Amphicar, you are missing the boat"
 
Super generous of you to offer the above Mark! Unfortunately, my VIN is not on your list. It would have made my year, if you would of had the original sales documentation!
 
I really appreciate you taking the time to check! Would very much like to find the cars on the list and unite the information with them. I think it helps the value of the car if you know something about it. Most have very interesting history as they were bought for promotional purposes of one kind or another.
 

Rene

New Member
You may (or not) know that I have come into the possession of all the company records for an Amphicar only dealership from Detroit in 1967 called Bearcat Motors. I am looking for all of the 50 cars sold by this dealer, but I need to know by using your VIN code to be sure.

If you indeed have one of these cars, I will have the original sales documents for it. I want to provide these papers to you as the original history of the car to accompany it as the car is passed along to future owners. I may have other interesting information and history to share about your car including any promotional activity or even footage of your car in films I have from the dealership!

I am writing stories about the cars and the dealership. The research I am doing leads me to ask the forum if anyone has one of these cars. If you do, it would be great to know the history of it since you acquired it to help tell the story back toward the original sale. As you are aware, these cars are the stars and most have some very interesting history behind them that even the current owners do not know about. One of the Bearcat cars was sold in 1967 and spent 45 years in Northport, Michigan. When the original owner passed away it was left to the city of Northport who ultimately auctioned it off. The high bidder was Hugh Gordon and he sold it to the owner of the Boathouse restaurant in Disney where it is one of the two red cars there giving rides to customers today!

To help complete more of these stories, I need to locate the cars and identify them using the VIN codes. If you would like to provide that to me, I will promise to keep it confidential and if it matches, tell more of the story, and send you the original sales documents from your car.

Here are the VIN codes I am looking for. I have found several already.

100 329103 792106 522 278106 522 352106 522 642106 523 089
100 437103 795106 522 294106 522 360106 522 644106 523 133
100 835106 521 898106 522 301106 522 393106 522 657106 523 158
101 714106 521 969106 522 315106 522 454106 522 680106 523 607
103 073106 522 229106 522 318106 522 496106 522 733106 524 183
103 297106 522 252106 522 328106 522 633106 522 898
103 315106 522 265106 522 339106 522 635106 523 041
103 385106 522 267106 522 348106 522 640106 523 042


If you have one of these cars, please let me know and I will take it from there.

Thanks, and remember "If you don't have an Amphicar, you are missing the boat"
Dear Mark,
Do you have some info about VIN 102 005? I have imported this one 8 years ago from the US to the Netherlands.
Best regards, Rene Duijvelshoff
 
Hi Rene,

Unfortunately, I do not have any information about your car as it was not sold by Bearcat.

I appreciate you asking and hope you are enjoying the car!

Mark
 
Update:

I have found (sort of) 2 more BearCat cars recently and while still searching for their current location, have discovered a place and time where I am sure they were.

The first I only have a picture of but do not know the VIN number or year although it looks like a late car with raised lips and chrome vent window, but had a painted white dash rather than black. It was a white car located in Jackson, Michigan around 2001 and carried the marine number MC1801GA. I do not know the name of the seller but have narrowed it down to 7 or 8 possible cars from the total 18 white cars sold.

Here is a picture of it;
1709487458264.png
1709487481543.png

The other car I stumbled across is also a 1967 white car VIN number 106 522 496 originally purchased by Donald Williams on 4/14/1967 from BearCat Motors. I know it was sold in Boston to a school bus driver, but nothing else.

As you can see, finding and piecing together the history of these cars to find the current owners can be challenging due to the lack of records and the time that has elapsed. Many of the owners are no longer around or extremely difficult to find. The cars themselves may not exist any longer either, but searching goes on.

I have the starting information from 1967, and sometimes the ending current owner, or any point of time in between that 55 year time span. If anyone knows more about these 2 cars or would check your VIN records to see if your car matches the list above, I may be able to reunite the car with the original sales information. It will increase the value of your car!

Working on more updates on a couple other cars with a very interesting stories!
 
Update:

Another BearCat car sighting.

This car was a red 1965 VIN# 103 795 originally purchased from BearCat Motors on 4/28/1967 by John Davis. It showed up again in the BearCat records just seven months later being sold to Albert Vadnais on 11/6/1967. I have no idea what the cause of this return was, but it was traded in and sold twice. At one time it carried license plate number DD4981 and AE1030 from Michigan.

The trail goes cold from there until it was uncovered bought by Rob Vondracek and sold to Tom Maruska in Minnesota. It looked like this in 2001 and you can see the BearCat decal below the exhaust pipe.

1710434040222.png
1710603086008.jpeg
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Tom restored the car to a very high detail, painted it green from it’s original color, and sold it at the 2012 Scottsdale Barrrett-Jackson auction.

1710434120917.png

It is at an unknown location now, so if you think this is possibly your vehicle, let me know because I have the original paperwork from both sales in 1967 for you.

Thanks to both Tom and Rob for helping identify tis car. I could not have gotten this far without this cooperation.

The research and search for these cars leads to small bits and pieces of information. Sometimes a picture, or someone sold it and kept records of that with the VIN number, but these are clues as to the journey the cars took from the dealership until in some cases today. Often I will have a glimpse of a car, or auction record, and it is lost again. Only with your help can I get more pieces of information to put enough of the puzzle together and reunite the vehicle with its original sales papers.

If you are still reading and you might have some records or documents that could be form one of the cars above, please let me know. If you have a car on the list you can contact me and I will happily mail the files to you. Just to be clear, I have mailed out two file folders this week to cars that have been located and confirmed the current owner (both have a great story to come). It is possible to find these cars, but I do need help and if I contact you (and I will if not already) please take a minute to dig out your records and titles and help give me a piece of a puzzle to keep going.

Thanks very much!
 
Last edited:
BearCat Car Found!

The Hugh Prescott / BearCat dealer Demo 1967 red VIN#106 522 680.

As the cars continue to change hands, I think it is worth knowing the history of the cars if possible. I know the red car (106 522 680) Hugh Prescott bought from Bearcat on June 13, 1967. It had a unique bow railing installed (yes, I have the invoice for the railing), and a tachometer installed in place of the clock, which was moved to the glove box lid.

This is the car before the bow railing was installed at the location of one of the first swim in's organized.


1710626207388.png

This car can be seen in the “Bearcat Dealership” film footage with Hugh demonstrating the fighting chair complete with lit cigarette in hand and snappy captain hat in place. That fall, the car wound up back at Bearcat Motors and was used as a “Demo” for several months and played a prominent role in the Amphicar salmon fishing trip video to northern Michigan. Barakat told me many times that Hugh Prescott was the swizzle stick that stirred the drink that was BearCat Motors.

Hugh Prescott in front of BearCat Motors in 1967 demonstrating the fighting chair on the back.

1710626428925.png

Salmon fishing in Frankfort, MI.

1710626600078.png

It was sold a second time at BearCat Motors on December 26, 1967, to Johnnie Henderson. From there the car was sold to Thaddeus Omilion and it sat from 1969 until rescued from being entombed in a garage by Matt Desano of Chesterfield Township some 30+ years later. The current owner is Dr. Craig Oiler, who is planning on restoring it back to its former glory. This history is verified by sales records, ledger entries, and warranty service documents along with the 16mm film footage to add closure to the history of another Bearcat car.

1710627098943.png

1710627187565.png
 
Another BearCat Amphicar Found!

From the post above from March 3 is the white car I wrote about.

It was purchased from Rob Vondracek by Dennis Witthun on eBay around 2005. Dennis is a mechanic by trade and lives in Wisconsin just west of Milwaukee. He would need all of his skills to bring this one back as it was very rusty and in need of everything. He said the engine had been replaced with a 1300cc and it had bucket seats in it when he got it. He confirmed the pictures of the car shown in the “before” condition.

1711746226059.png

The final product is now seen in these pictures and looks fantastic! Hard to believe it is the same car.

1711746284612.png

Dennis uses the car for many charitable functions and fund raisers in the area, giving rides for donations. His Facebook page is full of pictures like the ones shown. What a great second chance purpose for this particular Amphicar!

1711746369488.png

The car was originally purchased by an eye doctor, Dr. Joseph Nader on 2/20/68 and is one of the last cars sold by BearCat Motors as they would go out of business the next month. The doctor had bought another car the previous year, so this was his second. I asked Barakat about the doctor and he said he knew him because he was a dance instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studio and the doctor’s wife was also an instructor. The doctor paid a mere $495 dollars for the car new, but as we know that car was already 6 years old in 1968.

The car somehow ended up in the back yard of a house in Jackson, Michigan where Rob found it so many years later.1711746454042.png
Thanks to Dennis for sharing!

Stay tuned and come back often as I have more of these in development.
Is your car a BearCat car?
Check your VIN code! Your car's story may be waiting for you.
 

Dennis Witthun

New Member
Another BearCat Amphicar Found!

From the post above from March 3 is the white car I wrote about.

It was purchased from Rob Vondracek by Dennis Witthun on eBay around 2005. Dennis is a mechanic by trade and lives in Wisconsin just west of Milwaukee. He would need all of his skills to bring this one back as it was very rusty and in need of everything. He said the engine had been replaced with a 1300cc and it had bucket seats in it when he got it. He confirmed the pictures of the car shown in the “before” condition.

View attachment 3212

The final product is now seen in these pictures and looks fantastic! Hard to believe it is the same car.

View attachment 3213

Dennis uses the car for many charitable functions and fund raisers in the area, giving rides for donations. His Facebook page is full of pictures like the ones shown. What a great second chance purpose for this particular Amphicar!

View attachment 3214

The car was originally purchased by an eye doctor, Dr. Joseph Nader on 2/20/68 and is one of the last cars sold by BearCat Motors as they would go out of business the next month. The doctor had bought another car the previous year, so this was his second. I asked Barakat about the doctor and he said he knew him because he was a dance instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studio and the doctor’s wife was also an instructor. The doctor paid a mere $495 dollars for the car new, but as we know that car was already 6 years old in 1968.

The car somehow ended up in the back yard of a house in Jackson, Michigan where Rob found it so many years later.View attachment 3215
Thanks to Dennis for sharing!

Stay tuned and come back often as I have more of these in development.
Is your car a BearCat car?
Check your VIN code! Your car's story may be waiting for you.
Thank you Mark for your research! I am so humbled by the effects this car has on people! I cant even believe it. And to do charity events with it, just priceless!
 
Another BearCat Amphicar Found!

This one is a blue 1967 VIN# 106 522 294 originally sold to Conrad Walters on April 8, 1968.

Conrad Walters was the original owner of 1967 blue Amphicar 106 522 294 which was one of the last cars sold by BearCat Motors. In four days between February 9 and February 12, 1968, seven cars were sold. In those 4 days 15% of all sales for the entire time the dealership was open were sold. A month later the dealership closed. Looking at the prices we can see these cars were dumped into the market for whatever they could bring at a frozen time of year in Detroit.

It is said that Conrad first saw an Amphicar at the 1967 Detroit Auto show that BearCat had a display in. I have several photos from this show of the Amphicar display, although it is not clear whether this is the actual show car or not.

Because the car was purchased in 1968, it is from the time just before BearCat closed the dealership. It is thought that Conrad also bought many parts and other dealer items due to the quantity of items found with the car.

Mike Echemann found the car in 2000 still in the Detroit suburb of Allen Park in a warehouse near the railroad tracks where Conrad had a pet lion who helped patrol the property. Conrad packed a pistol on his hip as well but was just as nice and friendly as could be to Mike.

1712338809919.png

They had to dig the car out from a large amount of stuff piled on it to get it into the light again. It was in nice condition according to Mike and all he needed to do was cosmetic work and painting. It turned out nice and Mike has the car in Ohio not far from Celina.

1712338860606.png

When he saw the car in person after Mike restored it, Hugh Gordon said he also knew Conrad and bought parts from him on several occasions. Conrad passed away in 2008 and the warehouse he owned is now an ambulance service facility.

1712338885487.png
Thanks (and a beer) goes out to Mike Echemann who helped save the car and share some information for another car from The BearCat Files!

1712338925256.png
 

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