Royal Penguin Update, January 2009
The question - "I wonder where the Penguin that was presented to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip ended up?", can now be answered. A recent query to Sandringham Estates in Norfolk UK has confirmed that the blue and white machine is in their care. It is not currently on public display, and no comments were made regarding any planned change in this status, or on it's current condition.
Royal Penguin in a music Video !
Google "Streetheart Under My Thumb" and go to the video titled "Streetheart Under My Thumb 1979 Queen Pics" and in the first 30 seconds there is a shot of a picture taken of the Royal Penguin Presentation. Thanks Otis for passing this info along !
May 2012 - New link to a site from Belguim for Amphibious Vehicles and under "Penguins in Print" a new item.
Three Stooges PenguinI have located the footage of the Three Stooges driving a Penguin. You can find it on the web by going to Google.ca and searching "video" for "Stooges Flatheads". The Penguin is shown before and after the cartoon. The cartoon is available on DVD as part of a "Giant 600 Cartoon Collection", watch for it at department stores if you want a copy of your own. E-Mail me with the Subject "Stooges" for more information.
What I Know About the Penguin
Well for starters, they look like this ;
The Penguin is a 4 wheeled, two seater vehicle. It is amphibious. On land top speeds of up to 40 mph were claimed , and in the water 4 mph is its limit. It is two wheel drive and is powered by a two stroke gasoline engine driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed transmission. Water propulsion is provided by the rear wheels only.
It is 48" wide, 75" long, 30" high and weighs approximately 420 lbs.
The first Penguin was built in Toronto, Ontario sometime in 1962. In 1963 a small manufacturing plant was leased in Ottawa, Ontario by Pengor Ltd. and production began. In April, 1964 the Ottawa plant was forced to close down and production moved to Carleton Place, Ontario. In November of 1964 the company filed for bankruptcy, and in May, 1965 an auction was held to sell off complete machines, parts etc. The total number of machines built was approximately 800.
Penguins were built in various colours. They have fibreglass bodies that were either all yellow (top, bottom, seats, battery cover and engine cover), or white top and engine cover, with the bottom, seats and battery cover red, green or blue . The one shown above was originally white and red with white trim covering the seam between the body top and bottom. It appears that at least the top and bottom of the bodies and the seats were made by Polyfibre Ltd of Renfrew, Ontario.
Accessories available included : Windshield, Rear Cargo Rack, Seat Cushions(shown above), Cockpit Cover (also shown above), Skiis, Amphibious Trailer, Trailer Hitch, Tow Bar.
There were 3 different models built, tagged "A","B" and "D". The "A" was the first model built. It used "turf saver" style rear tires and cast aluminum paddles for water propulsion. The "B" models used Terra-Tread tires without paddles, heavier drive chains and the "D" was heavier due to thicker fibreglass construction, and geared lower. There are slight variations in body design, but I am not sure if they are model specific. I have one Penguin with hand brake levers on the steering yoke which appear to be factory original, so that appears to have been an option as well.
Penguins are powered by a Villiers 2-stroke, 197cc engine, with a 4-speed transmission, fan-cooling and a reversible Siba Dynastart (electric starter-generator). They did not have an actual reverse gear, but instead the engine runs backwards, similar to Golf Carts and some snowmobiles. To go backwards you shut the engine off, push the centre of the ignition switch inward with the key, turn it to the right and restart the engine with the crankshaft turning in the reverse direction. On some later Penguins (and the Beaver) the key was turned to the left to start in reverse.
Penguins are two wheel drive, and seat two side by side. Top speed on land is reportedly 25 - 40 mph depending on the model, with water speed given as 4 mph. They have no suspension, and the steering yoke swings right and left, instead of rotating as a steering wheel would. The throttle is located in the centre of the steering yoke and can be operated by either thumb. There is a brake pedal on the floor, and a gear shift between the seats. The dash houses the ignition switch, head/tail light switch, horn button, neutral indicator light, generator light and the passenger grab handle. The choke control and clutch lever are mounted on the shift lever. From neutral, you pull the gear shift up for first gear, then push down for second, third and fourth. The engine is located behind the seats, almost directly over the rear axle. There is no differential on the rear axle, and on hard ground the Penguin has a large turning radius. In the water however, the Penguin will "turn on a dime". Carrying capacity on land is 600 lbs, in the water, 300 lbs max. The Penguin weighs approx 420 lbs empty.
Penguins were tested by the Canadian Military in 1964, I have seen a copy of the proposed tests, but not the results of the testing.
A blue and white Penguin complete with trailer was presented to Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth during a Royal Visit to Canada, in October, 1964. See the sidebar at left to see a picture of the interior of the Royal Blue machine.
What I know about the "Beaver"
Sometime after the Bankruptcy Auction at Pengor in Carleton Place, a somewhat similar vehicle called "The Beaver" was produced by Wheeler Mobile Ltd. of Keswick, Ontario. The one was pictured below had one owner before me, he purchased it as a demo model in 1967. This photo was taken by Bev Shoots as Lori and I left the 2005 Carleton Place Car Show.
If you don't look too closely at it from behind you could easily mistake it for a Penguin. I do not know how many were made, or when production started or stopped. I have seen a magazine article from 1970 that contains Beaver information, so I assume they were still being built at that time.
The Beaver has a fibreglass body , slightly longer and wider than the Penguin. I have only seen one colour - red all over, but I am told they were also available in Green Metalflake. They used a Villiers engine like the Penguin, and you could choose from either a 197cc or 173cc model. The drive chain layout, brake system and rear axle assembly are almost identical to the Penguin, most of the parts are interchangeble. The steering / front axle layout is very different from the Penguin, as can be seen in the photos. They did use the same steering yoke and throttle lever, as well as brake pedal, headlights, taillight, dash layout, passenger and deck handle, and front and rear tires and rims. The Beaver I have does have a brake light and the Penguins do not. The ignition switch is turned to the right to start the engine in "forward" and to the left for "reverse". I do not know if there were different models of the Beaver produced, other than the 197cc and 173cc versions, I do know the body molding was changed slighty between 1967 and 1968. As far as available accessories go , the Beaver pictured above came with : storage cover, windshield, seat cushions, carpet, floor mats, amphibious trailer with storage cover, chrome trailer hitch, brake light and transport trailer. The amber reflectors and the rear deck stripe on the machine pictured above were added by the previous owner.
I welcome any comments and suggestions. If you now own one of these machines or did in the past, I would be very interested in hearing from you, your experiences with them, any you may have, etc. Please E-Mail me at "Kevin_Percy@hotmail.com"
Penguins and Beavers In Print / On Film / In Music Videos
A four seater Penguin has been spotted in a German Auto Magazine "Autobild-Klassik", the Feb 27 issue, page 9. I am working on locating an online image to link to.
Royal Penguin in a music Video ! Google "Streetheart Under My Thumb" and go to the video titled "Streetheart Under My Thumb 1979 Queen Pics" and in the first 30 seconds there is a shot of a picture taken of the Royal Penguin Presentation
The Three Stooges can be seen driving a Penguin in a live short shown before and after one of their Cartoons. It can be found on the web (see above) or on DVD in a 600 cartoon collection, it is shown with the cartoon "Flatheads".
There is an article on the Penguin in the January 1965 issue of Motor Trend, page 48.
There is an article on the Penguin in the October 1969 issue of Dappper magazine. See the sidebar at left to view the article.
There is a photo of the Presentation to the Royal Couple in Royal Canada by Trevor Hall, page 66, (check your nearest Used Book Store) there is also footage of the Presentation (approx. 15-20 sec.) on the Video The Queen in Canada 1964, available in VHS format (ID NO. 113B0164180) from The National Film Board of Canada.
There is an article on the Penguin in the February 1965 issue of Mechanix Illustrated , page 76.
The Beaver is mentioned in article in the August 1970 issue of Field and Stream , in an ATV's Buyers's Guide article. Click HERE to see the article on Route6x6.com
There is a Photo of a Penguin in an article on the Great Salt Lake in the August 1967 copy of National Geographic on Page 253
There is a brief appearance by a Yellow D model Penguin in the Movie Deux Femmes En Or (Two Women in Gold), a film shot around Montreal in 1970. The Penguin is shown in the first 5 minutes or so. Watch your TV Listings, this film is still shown late saturday nights.
A Penguin may have appeared in a "Mazda Wheels of Summer" commercial. The Penguin (?) was only in frame in the background for a second.
A Penguin is pictured on page 143 of the Summer 2007 edition of Intersection Magazine. Yours Truly is shown seated at the controls of an original 1964 D model made in Carleton Place.
Amphibious Vehicles - Here is a page from Belgium with many useful links and resources.
Photos from the Kay Family Archives ! A peek inside the factory, some photos taken for use in brochures, newpaper articles starring the Penguin and the Parts List for the B and D models. Ed Kay was the president of Pengor. Thanks to the Kay family for sharing these !
The Source for Amphibious Vehicle Information. Interested in Amphibians in General ? Here is a site that has a listing of Military and Civilian units from all over the world.
Route6x6.com A very useful and helpful site containing information about AATV's from the '60's to present.
What did the minds behind the Penguin come up with next ? Look Here !
Interested in old snowmobiles ? You might be a Sled Head ! Check out this site - Free Classifieds for old snowmobiles.oldsledheads.com