Elegant and fast, here are glorious examples of the golden age of motorboating. Sculpted in mahogany, brilliantly varnished, fixtured in chrome, and powered by reciprocating engines of vast displacement, these personal powerboats provided then, as they do today, a sense of exhilaration for their owners. The photographs and text of Classic Motorboats 2020 come from Norm and Jim Wangard, the publishers of Classic Boating magazine.
Motorboats pictured in this edition include:
1918 Hacker-Craft 21’ Runabout
Tom Neff’s 1918 Hacker-Craft 21’ runabout, according Hacker expert Tom Flood, is the only one quite like it. The planing V-bottom runabout was built in the style of the day, with aft cockpit and control, at the Hacker factory in Detroit, with white hullsides for a Cedarville, Michigan, family. Power was most likely a Van Blerck, the default engine for Hacker at the time. PAL was the first boat registered in Michigan as a historical watercraft. There are a couple of similar aft-cockpit Hacker-Crafts from 1922 and 1923 still in the Les Cheneaux islands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
1928 Sea Lyon 26' Runabout
In the late 1920’s, Howard W. Lyon was an aggressive boat dealer with a Manhattan showroom catering to the wealthy and elite. As sales grew with customers on Long Island Sound, he decided to build and market his own line of boats. Lyon quickly forged a relationship with John L. Hacker, who supplied him with Hacker hulls for sale with the Sea Lyon name.Garryowen, built in 1928, was one of these few Hacker-built Sea Lyons, similar to the Hacker Boat Company’s “Dolphin” model. The company produced boats for only five years, closing in 1933 in the midst of the Depression. Bo Muller, an antique boat restorer, purchased Garryowen in 1979 and brought it to Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, for a thorough restoration.
1930 25’ Dodge and 1930 21.6’ Dodge Runabouts
Gary Kiedaisch, top, runs his 1930 25’ Dodge with Ron Stafford in his 1930 21.6’ Dodge at Glendale on Varney Point on Lake Winnipesaukee. Gary had always admired Dodge boats from the time he was a youngster. Five years ago, he decided to get serious about owning one. He acquired hull #25A-8, from Don Babcock. Nedla is the first owner’s name spelled backwards.As he learned more about the brand and rarity of the 21½-footer, Ron decided it was the boat for him and acquired it from Mark Mason, who had it sitting on a rack in his shop. Restoration was done in phases over a period of 13 years as finances allowed. Siren is named for the sea nymph on the bow.
1931 Ditchburn 28' Model 28, #31-1
Hiawatha was built in 1931 as a custom runabout incorporating the “American Style” forward-drive triple cockpit layout with streamlined hardware. It is unclear who placed the order for Hiawatha in 1931. The boat was purchased “used” by Alfred Wintermeyer through Bryson Shields of Minett Shields in 1933 for $2,500. He named the boat Theresa for his daughter, and kept the boat on the Muskoka lakes for the next 38 years. In 1971, he sold it to his neighbor, Robert Fasken. John Allen, a Minnesota collector, purchased the boat in 2011 and embarked on a thorough restoration with Muller Boatworks. Hiawatha is powered by an 8 cylinder Packard Marine 1M-357 engine developing 60 horsepower at 1800 rpm. Boats built by Ditchburn Boat Works, the preeminent boat builder in Canada’s Muskoka region, were opulent, built with superlative craftsmanship and customized for each owner.
1936 Chris-Craft 19' Special Race Boat
One of thirty 19' Special Race Boats built in 1936, hull #19025 was originally delivered to Cleveland, Ohio, in July of that year. It is one of three that were equipped with the Gray Phantom Light 6-103 racing engine; the other 27 boats had the Lycoming 6-155. The boat was returned to Algonac, Michigan, in 1937, and a new Gray 6-103 was installed. It was then shipped to the Lindsey Park Yacht Club (LPYC) in Davenport, Iowa, in July 1937, where it was owned and raced on the Mississippi River by Dr. Cyrus Ranch, the Commodore of the LPYC during this period. In the late 1960s, noted collector Frank Warner spotted the boat, and purchased it. In 1993, the Warners graciously agreed to sell Marjorie to the Favilla family.
1937 Chris-Craft 17' Runabout
In 1973, the original owner wanted to give his 1937 Chris-Craft to George Plamondon. George suggested they should have a contract. It so happened that there was a young attorney at the party. The lawyer said he wouldn’t do anything for less than $10. A contact was drawn up on the back of an envelope and George acquired the 17' Deluxe for a dollar on September 23rd, 1973. Total cost for the runabout, which was already becoming a basket case, and the contract: $11.Returning the boat to Glen Lake after 35 years, George hit an unmarked shoal, damaging the prop. A man on shore waved George in. He happened to be the nephew of the previous owner who said, “I’ve been looking all over for this boat.” The next day, the nephew took George to a prop shop to get a new prop. “I didn’t know what I was getting into. It was a life changing event, as most boats are,” said the late owner. “I hope What Fun stays in the family a long time.”
1951 Chris-Craft 19’ Holiday
After Gordon Davidson passed away, his 1951 Chris Craft 19’ Holiday saw very little use. In the mid 60s, it nearly sank due to improper soaking. “Granny Doris determined the boat to be unsafe and retired it to the boathouse,” says John Baumann. “When I was older, I asked Granny several times if I could try and get the old Chris-Craft running. Her reply was always no, that was Gordon’s boat and no one was to touch it.” A few years ago, John and his cousin Mike were able to convince their Aunt Barbara to let them try and get the old boat running. Nodrog is Gordon spelled backwards.
1953 Shepherd 27' Express Cruiser
Boat restorer Lars Bergersen bought the boat from a customer of theirs in Michigan who is a Shepherd enthusiast and owns several. This hull is #13 in the first series of 27' Shepherds built, with a generous beam of 9' 6". Falcon is powered by the rare 331Chrysler Hemis first offered in 1953, providing a top speed is 42 mph. All of the plank bungs were made from original old stock Honduras mahogany from a donor Shepherd. “This is the ultimate family boat with lots of room, high sides, tons of storage space, and a folding removable table,” says Olivia Bergersen.
1955 Century 20' Coronado
All the Chris-Crafts of the era that John Incaudo wanted for skiing had four or six cylinder engines until someone mentioned the big engines in the Century Coronados. “That’s what drew me to it initially; then I saw it and all the bling. That’s what did it,” John says of his 1955 20' Coronado that came with a Chrysler Hemi. “When I bought the boat, I didn’t really understand what I was getting into.” John brought it home in the fall with the intent that it would be ready for spring. “Next thing I know, the boat is upside down. But it was ready for the next spring.” Actually, he finished the following spring after two winters and a summer. John restored his Coronado at his auto body shop using Don Danenberg’s How to Restore Your Wooden Boat book as his reference manual.
1956 Chris-Craft 21’ Capri
Miss Lu Lu II is a 1956, 21’ Chris-Craft Capri with a roomy 7' 5" beam. It was built in Algonac, Michigan, and shipped to the Tahoe Boat Company on February 1st, 1956. After being rescued from a gas station in Santa Clara, California, it was then acquired by the Jared Hein family. Its restoration was completed in 2005 and it took 1st place in its class and Best of Show under 23’ at the 2005 Tahoe Yacht Club Concours d’ Elegance. Hull #CP-21-121 was ordered with the optional Chrysler M45 Hemi V-8, giving a top speed of 41 mph and retailing for $6,380.
1956 Chris-Craft 26’ Sea Skiff
Lynn Ricter bought his 1956 26’ Sea Skiff twenty years ago from the first owner, who was living off the grid on forty acres in northern Wisconsin’s Nicolet forest. Harold, the skiff owner, was getting on in years. Lynn remembers walking through the woods as a youngster and Harold asking him if he would like to buy the boat. Lynn replied that he didn’t know anything about lapstrake inboards. Harold countered, promising to give Lynn his money back if he didn’t like it.“I never had a problem with it,” Lynn says. “It’s a good reliable boat and very stable. Don’t even feel the waves.” The boat features a head and sleeps two in V-berths. The 737 pilot named his skiff Boeings.
1973 Streblow 26' Custom V-Drive
West End Girl is a 1973 Streblow 26' Custom. It is the first 26' V-drive the Streblows produced providing ample u-shaped seating. The original owner was Bruno Presky from Long Grove, Illinois, who had a summer residence on Geneva Lake, where the boat has spent its entire life. Tom and Torye Marek purchased the boat from Bruno in August, 2003. They’ve logged between 130-160 hours of use per season on Geneva Lake. In 2012, the Mareks returned the boat to Streblow, five miles away in Walworth county, to perform a complete restoration of the boat that included swapping out the 440 Chrysler with a new Crusader 496 cubic inch high output engine and a high performance 4 blade propeller. West End Girl’s port of call is Fontana on Geneva Lake’s west end.
2016 Jeffrey Breen 24' 8" Gentleman’s Racer
As the son of Peter Breen, Jeff has been around boats since he was a baby and he is now testing his father’s boat building skills, especially so after his most recent boat, The Apprenticeship, was built by Jeff in his spare time between 2013 and 2016. The hull design is that of Rainbow III, designed in 1923 by John Hacker, built by Herb Ditchburn, and raced by Harry Greening. “This boat blends styles and hardware of past and present,” Jeff says of the Canadian design elements. An Entec 340 HP 350 cu. in. V-8 propels the 3,300 lb hull to 50 mph.
© Tide-mark Press 2019