Jim Dowdall discusses the many quirks and oddities of driving a DUKW

A DUKW at the D-Day 80th Anniversary commemorations in June 2024

The first thing you notice when climbing into the driving seat of a DUKW is the very limited visibility available when driving a left-hand drive vehicle on British roads. The width of the deck, combined with the height that you are off the ground, means there is a blind spot on the front right, so it’s a real help to have somebody in the passenger seat to warn you if there is an approaching obstacle on the blind side.

When running correctly, the big six-cylinder GMC petrol engine is incredibly quiet, cocooned in its watertight compartment, but the exhaust exits are at deck level – just by the cockpit on the right-hand side – and, on hot days or particularly at sea, the fumes can swirl around the driving compartment and can make you feel quite queasy. The thrill of driving this ‘large lump’ is a challenge, where one has to be on one’s toes all the time, and a real once-in-a-lifetime experience. In short, it’s fun – and fun is what I had with my DUKW for 25 years.

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