By: Scott Way
The inevitable crossbreeding between cars and boats has produced some... interesting results. Some would classify the attempts at these hybrids as engineering marvels. Others might call them a criminal misuse of steel and aluminum. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, there have been some relatively well-received concepts over the years. The Amphicar is secretly coveted by every car enthusiast (even if its just a car with a propeller), and the Gibbs Aquada nearly went mainstream thanks to the efforts of billionaire investor Richard Branson. Then there's the Boaterhome, which seems like a reasonable way to amalgamate a boat and an RV. The reasons for mixing cars and boats are pretty obvious. Both are recreational vehicles to help you abscond from responsibility on weekends. One uses land, the other uses water, but the ambition is the same.
But it doesn't always go well. Sometimes you get things like the Herzog Conte 'Schwimmwagen' which is just really ugly. The car-boat osmosis does not always bring out the best from each contributor.
But then sometimes it works. We never would have expected a big rig to jive with a pontoon boat, but surprisingly they make a great fit. It turns out a Peterbilt is the ideal dimensions for a pontoon platform, resulting in the amazing feat of engineering you see before you: the Peterboat.
After some internet sleuthing it turns out there are actually a few Peterbilt boats in existence. The Peterboat is the most well known and is owned by Shane Durkin or Durkin Diesel in Lemitar, New Mexico. His design utilizes a Peterbilt 379, which is the same truck as Optimus Prime from Transformers, so that's awesome. Durkin purchased a rundown pontoon for $1200 to serve as the base platform, then began adding truck parts as an amusing side project for him and his friends. Once they realized they were on to something, they took unused parts from his custom truck business to transform the contraption into what eventually became the Peterboat. The turn signals double as the navigation lights with proper red and green bulbs, and as an ode to fishing boats it uses bass boat flake paint for extra flare. The boat also has a refrigerator, grille, small head, and a full lounge with dual sofas and a card table. It's powered by 4 cylinder Diesel cummins engine (that was taken from a bread truck), and has a full size storage area under the hood. If there's enough room to add an air mattress or bed, that would make the Peterboat a fully capable overnighter.
(*Skip to the 6:00 mark to get the lowdown on the Peterboat)
Another sweet Peterbilt boat making the rounds is the Petertoon owned by Jeff Foster Trucking in Superior, Wisconsin. With a similar concept to the Peterboat, the Petertoon is built around a 28 foot pontoon with a Peterbilt truck body rigged on top. The boat has a fully functional compressed air horn (so its loud), and is powered by a 90 hp Mercury outboard. In an interview with WDIO Wisconsin, Foster said keeping the air horn proved to be a wise choice: "The minute someone would see it, they would come towards the boat with their boat and of course the first thing they did is they would blow the horn. And yes, it does have an air compressor and horn. It looks just as if you were driving a semi truck."
The Petertoon is pretty luxurious while still managing to keep a fair number of its original truck features intact. It still has its original sideview mirrors, which are handy if you're towing a tube, and the helm is still a fully functional dashboard that stays true to the truck's original design. The rear lounge has dual sofas as well as two swivel seats, a marine audio system, and what appears to be functional taillights.
Even Canada has their own interpretation of the concept. Police in Manitoba came across a blue version of the Peterbilt-pontoon concept on the Lee River northeast of Winnipeg. That version has a full size bimini and an even fuller crew.
The marine world has always had a fascination with combining multiple things into #WeirdBoats. It seems we just can't help ourselves. Which is fine, because once you've created something as ingenious as a truck-pontoon crossbreed you also get the pleasure of naming it. While Peterboat and Petertoon are both excellent, if you decide to build your own Peter-pontoon you can use a clever name like Optimus Brine or Semi Submersible. Hey, whatever floats your truck, right?