Motorboats featured in the 2022 edition include:
1937 Century 17′ Sea Maid
Sweet Pea, a 1937 Century 17-foot Sea Maid, was sold new to a family in Antioch, IL. They sold it in 1975 to a family in Oshkosh, WI, that ran it on Lake Winnebago that summer and then put it in the garage to refinish. In 2004, the owner’s wife wanted her garage back and sold the boat to Fred Bartizal. “I bought the boat with the idea of refinishing it myself,” said Fred. “However, after looking at it for more than a year, I sent it to Norton Boat Works.” Norton replaced three questionable planks and refinished it.
1960 Shepherd 22′ runabout
Andy McCormick and his father attended an ice boat regatta in 1982, but went sightseeing instead because there was no wind. “We found this boat for sale at the Geneva Lake Boat Yard and bought it on the spot!” says Andy. “It was exactly what my dad was looking for.”
The boat was a 1960 Shepherd 22-foot runabout powered by its original V-drive Chrysler 318. “With plenty of freeboard and its deep-V, the Shepherd gives you a classic smooth ride even in rough water,” says Andy, who brought In the Clover out of decade-long storage in 2002. All it needed was a tune-up, and when restoration is needed, no worries; Andy owns a lumber yard.
1924 Henry B. Nevins 30’ Baby Bootlegger
The most widely admired Gold Cup race boat in the world is the George Crouch-designed Baby Bootlegger. Built by Henry B. Nevins for racecar driver, speedboat racer and aviation pioneer, Caleb Bragg, Baby Bootlegger has an overall length of 29-feet, 10½-inches and a beam of 5-feet, 10-inches. Representing the Columbia Yacht Club, Caleb Bragg drove the cigar-shaped boat to fame as the winner of the American Power Boat Association Gold Cup in 1924 and 1925, and the Dodge Memorial Trophy in 1925. In 1976, Mark Mason found Baby Bootlegger under a lean-to at a junk dealer, who thought the hull too special to break up. Mark spent many years carefully restoring the boat. After 25 years of ownership, Mark sold Baby Bootlegger to Tom Mittler. In 2015, current owner Lee Anderson bought the boat from the Mittler estate.
2001 Wilson 26’ Watercar T-14
T-14 is a collaboration between owner Teri Hoffman of New York and boat builders Ken Bassett of Vermont and Lance Wilson of Florida. T-14 was drawn freehand with a modified John Hacker Miss A.P.B.A. hull. For styling above the waterline, Teri referenced old boating magazines and specified the rise she liked, the depth, the curvature, the extended transom, exposed rudder, and foot throttle. She brainstormed with Lance twice a week on what looked visually appealing. T-14’s Chevy 502 is a perfect engine, giving the 26’ hull 70 m.p.h. speeds with a 17 x 23 propeller. T-14’s name comes from the 1920s racing class it is styled after and Teri’s birthday, on the fourteenth of the month.
1948 Chris Craft 25’ Sportsman
In 1955, Gordon Whowell started Gordy’s Marine in Fontana, WI, with Effie, his 1948 Chris Craft 25-foot Sportsman, by giving speed boat rides on the west shore of Lake Geneva. Powered by a Scripps 208 inline six, he captained Effie himself, charging $1 for a cruise around the lake. Everyone enjoyed Gordy’s famous speedboat rides: “A millionaire’s thrill for one thin bill.” Effie, hull #S-25-158, was named for the wife of the original owner. “Effie holds a special meaning to the family as a reminder of our history,” says current owner, Thomas Whowell. Effie’s price tag in 1948 was $8,300, more than an average new house of the day.
1947 Chris-Craft 16′ Rocket
Bill Wiedman said to his wife, Janice, “I know where we can find a classic boat. It’s in good condition and won’t take much work, honey.” That summer, the Wiedmans put a deposit on the Rocket and were told it was a special model. They wrote down the hull number and the engine number, and then ordered the hull card from the Chris-Craft Collection at the Mariners Museum. The engine numbers matched and the hull card said “Chris-Craft Rocket decal on side.” After finding color ads of the Rocket in 1947 issues of Yachting, the Wiedemens were hooked. It took the Wiedemens and two friends eleven months to bring Retro Rocket back to life, working three nights a week and both days of the weekend.
1932 Chris-Craft 25’ Model 308
Happy with their 17-foot ski boat, George and Melodee French were not looking for another classic until they spotted an ad in the local paper for 1932 Chris-Craft. Model 308 was the third 25-footer constructed in 1932 and the first sold that model year. In 1987, Tom Batchelor bought the boat in Minnesota and had it shipped to Nevada, where a 12-year restoration began. With his engineering and mechanical aptitude from servicing the cars in the Bill Harrah Museum collection, Tom rebuilt the Scripps engine himself. Throughout the hull restoration, Philip Ballantyne, Dennis Burns, and Jim Stewart assisted Tom. Vintage 32 weights a total of 4,100 pounds of which 1,175 pounds are the 200 h.p. six-cylinder Scripps with 5-inch bore fed by a 40-gallon fuel tank. Top speed is 42 m.p.h.
1946 Chris-Craft 17’ Deluxe Runabout
Delivery of the 1946 Chris-Craft 17’ Deluxe Runabout was taken by Walter Peutz from the John G. Rapp Co., distributers for Chris-Craft in San Francisco, on November 26, 1946. Hull number 17-R-162 was delivered with a 95 h.p. K engine at a price $2,401. Jeffrey Davis acquired the runabout in 1989 from its second owner, who had purchased the boat from the Peutz estate. When Jeffrey got Marvelous, he found the hull brightwork was tired and the upholstery was worn. “Like most unrestored boats of this vintage, it was a real leaker,” says Jeffrey. “Early in 1999, a hull restoration was begun. The bottom, sides and deck were all removed and repairs were made on a few frames.”
1930 Chris-Craft 24′ Model 103
The first owner of hull #2555, bought the 24-foot Chris-Craft new in 1930 and brought it to Pewaukee Lake, WI. There, the three-cockpit runabout sat unused for a few decades in its dry, on-land boat house. In the mid 80s, a tree that had grown up in front of the boat house door had to be cut down to extract the boat from its resting place of fifty years. During an attempt to launch the boat, the dry let in so much water, it nearly sank. Then, for the next fifteen years, a series of owners followed. The boat returned to operable status once current owner, Jeff Allen, acquired the troubled project. With the exception of a replacement bottom, very little woodworking was required above the waterline.
1907 Fay & Bowen 25′ Standard Launch
When the original German patent on “explosive” gas ran out in 1895, two-cycle engines became available all over the world. Business partners Walter Fay and Ernest Bowen sold their prosperous bicycle business after Bowen decided he could build a better small engine than those on the market. The partners tested the first Fay & Bowen marine engine in a 25-foot hull in autumn of 1900. Fay & Bowen’s early launches were gas engine copies of successful steam and naphtha boats. Their 25’ launch sold for less than $875. One of the boats, a 25’ Standard launch named Stella built in 1907, was located on New York’s Lake George by Chris Mattoon of Berkshire Wooden Boats, who restored it for Carl Mammel. Stella may be seen at the Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria, Minnesota. As one studies the beautiful details of Stella, it’s not difficult to imagine its passengers, ladies in their long summer dresses and men in linen suits, enjoying a leisurely cruise.
1959 Sebino 6m
When the 19-foot 6-inch Sebino sank in deep water at its pristine mountaintop lake, the Austrian government allowed a very narrow window for recovery before accessing a hefty fine. When raised, the grown children of the original owner, the Braun family, decided the speedboat they learned to ski behind had become a liability and replaced it with a go-fast boat. The Sebino looks exactly like a Riva Super Florida, but the Sebino 6m (the m in 6m stands for meters, equaling 19.685-feet) is the only example in the United States and that exclusivity suits owner Bill Hancock who was looking for something different.
Sebinos, which use the same hardware and engine as Rivas, were built across Lake Iseo from Riva in Sarnico, Italy.
1930 Hacker 26′ Dolphin
In 1930, this 26-foot Dolphin was sold to an inn on Wolfe Island in Lake Muskoka, Canada, and used as a ride boat for guests. The next owner cut the decks off, removed the 20 h.p. Kermath inline six, and installed a Chrysler 440, transforming the elegant runabout into a workboat used to deliver bottled propane gas to island cottage owners through the 1960s. Cincinnati boat broker Lou Rauh found the worn-out boat in a Muskoka barn and arranged its sale. Eventually the boat was acquired by Hacker-Craft authority Tom Flood, who had restored a number of 26′ Dolphins and had no problem establishing the camber of the missing deck. At the 2012 Mecum Kissimmee, FL, auction the restored boat went over reserve and current owner Jim Grundy won the bid.
About the Authors
For more than three decades, Jim and Norm Wangard have written about and photographed great wooden boats in Classic Boating magazine. It is the source for information about classic speedboats from the golden era of the runabout that include marque class names like Chris-Craft, Gar Wood and Hacker. Classic Boating magazine, published in color six times a year, features boat shows, exemplary boats, restoration tips, classified boats-for-sale ads, product sales, world class photography, and much more. Bi-monthly, since 1984.