About a year and a half ago I posted a story about Ben Carlin and his famous SEEP “Half Safe”. What I didn’t realize at the time was there were a few other nuts crazy enough to modifiy a GPA and travel the world. One of those explorers was a Canadian named Lionel Forge.
I learned about Lionel’s adventure through a website operated by Colin Stevens, who eventually purchased Lionel’s GPA and began the restoration back to its original condition (he then sold the GPA to a USA collector in 2004). Thanks to Colin, we have a record of both Lionel’s transformation of the surplus GPA #4545 into “Amphib” and along with a summary of his story.
On his site, Colin writes, “[Lionel] had the book HALF SAFE which is about a GPA that was modified for world travel and which was travelling around the world. Lionel decided to modify his GPA and travel as well. One key difference is that he did not plan to sail across oceans with his.”
According to this newspaper article, Lionel planned to drive down through Central and South America, ship the car to Africa and then travel through Eastern Europe. One of the places he really wanted to visit was Montevideo, Uruguay, a country about which I posted yesterday.
According to Colin, Lionel made it to Central America, but then discovered the cargo ship he planned to use to make it to Africa was longer in service. So, he shipped ‘Amphib’ to a friend’s house in Florida and continued some additional traveling, though whether he made it to Montevideo is unclear.
Lionel eventually brought Amphib back to Canada, where it sat for at least 11 years on blocks (most likely much more) until Lionel’s death in 2001. Lionel’s family later sold the GPA to Colin, who photographed it extensively, recording all kinds of information about it. Colin then sold it in 2004 to an American collector.
Colin also wrote a 2 part article in Convoy Magazine in 2002 about the entire adventure, which he pieced together from Lionel’s images, passports and other information. Unfortunately, the magazine is no longer published and I can’t locate any back issues online.
Here are a few images from Colin’s website:
This is GPA#4545 at the salvage yard:
This shows Amphib after the 1949 Dodge Station Wagon top was added:
This is a newspaper article about his upcoming trip:
Amphib with the tent on top:
Lionel in Guatemala (Pyramid #1 at Tikal) in 1967
I also thought it appropriate to include an image of Colin Stevens with his 1944 MB. The photo was taken in 2000. You can see more images here.