The Vocho that could swim. The story of the VW Beetle that crossed Lake Chapala


With slight modifications, Mexican engineers turned a VW Sedan into an amphibious car

This feat has different versions. One indicates that, in 1968, Volkswagen received complaints from an agency because the water seeped into the “ Vochos ” when it rained. Another variant indicates that the Mexican engineers working for VW wanted to demonstrate their capabilities with a crazy project. 

En 1968, un vocho cruzó Chapala - El Diario de Guadalajara

What is true is that in that year, a select group of 8 engineers went to work on a 1968 VW Sedan with a single mission: to cross Lake Chapala, in Jalisco. 

The team, led by Marcelo de Loza, Feliciano Jiménez and Javier Aréchiga, set to work to make the little Vocho become an amphibious car. 

The first thing was to connect an arrow with propellers to the crankshaft to be able to move in the water, then they filled the lower part with cork and silicone to seal all the gaps and began with the tests. 

The Mexican mechanics went to Avila Camacho Park and used a small dam with stagnant rainwater as a place to test the first attempt. They put the car in and after a few seconds it turned off, so they had to pull the Vocho with ropes to get it out of there. 


A second attempt was made a few days later; the engineers had completely sealed the car’s electronics, but they didn’t count on a thing. The crankcase could not withstand the pressure of the water and, as expected, it leaked liquids into the interior. 

To correct this, they reinforced the component and installed a series of special cork seals. However, the engine was still leaking water from somewhere, so they decided to completely seal it at the risk of overheating. 

On the first of September, they did the last test in front of the Chapala lighthouse. The car leaked a minimal amount of water into the interior, and the mechanical components seemed to work without any problems. 

To solve the water inside the Vocho, a couple of pumps were placed that took the liquid and returned it outside the car. 

With the vehicle ready, the VW agency in the Americas took care of all the publicity and they distributed flyers through the streets to warn of the next feat to be carried out. The event was on September 8 at noon in Chapala. 


When the project team arrived, they were met with far more assistance than they had imagined. However, they had to delay the start of the event because the lake was choppy. 

After a couple of hours, they managed to start their way. They reached San Luis Soyotlán, spent 5 minutes and went back into the water with the amphibious Vocho. The first journey lasted about 4 and a half hours. From Ajijic to Chapala they did 90 minutes. 

The trip in total lasted just under 5 hours and they covered 24 kilometers inside the lake. In the end, the Vocho began to lose the battle and the managers narrate that the water leaks were beginning to do their thing. 

However, the small car of the German firm endured like the big ones and, without any help, they left the lake amid the euphoria of the residents and tourists on the dock. 


After this feat, VW organized a celebration in a house on the shores of Lake Chapala. 

It is said that the famous Vocho that managed to cross Lake Chapala was restored to its original shape within a few weeks and spent a lot of time displayed on the sales floor of the VW agency in the Americas. on Twitter: "Era la tarde del 8 de septiembre de 1968 y un  Volkswagen sedán, un vocho modificado, cruzó el lago de Chapala sin  complicaciones desde San Luis Soyatlán hasta Ajijic,

Some years later, a buyer interested in the model paid a good amount of money for it and it is now part of a private collection although, from time to time, it is lent to public displays.


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