Episode 8 – Were The Prototype Cobra, And Prototype Blue Arabian At The Same Show?

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Lets go!

Well, that didn’t take long. In two days, she is cleaned up, flipped and dismembered. This is all being done carefully and every detail is being inspected. Thickness of wood, grain, cut, screws. All of it. That grey bilge sure looks grey.  For those of you wondering, there is zero evidance of any red bilge paint. But they are looking.

Actually looks better torn apart

Yesterday I got this cool thought from Reporter and investigator Dane Anderson.

I expect that the prototype Cobra was built long before January 1955. Wouldn’t Chris Craft have had the hull in some sort of testing program in 1954? It seems plausible to me that the hull card was generated in Jan 1955 to account for shipping it to the big New York Boat Show for display. Chris Craft was probably hoping for some Cadillac built boats to be ready in time, but ended up having to ship the Algonac prototype to make the show.

The Blue Arabian

Photo of the boat show, The Blue Arabian and Prototype Cobra would have been at the same show. Together Again.

The Blue Arabian Prototype after preservation at Katzs Marina – She now lives in New Zealand with Phil Andrews.

Chris Craft was probably feeling pressured by Century and others to get something bold and exciting to market. If I remember correctly the first Arabian was displayed at the 1954 New York Boat Show. That was more of a concept boat than a prototype since the production Blue and Gray 1955 didn’t bear much resemblance to the black and gold show boat. I believe that the early 1955 Blue and Gray Arabians were shipped to dealers in the Fall of 1954. Chris Craft couldn’t afford to have the Cobra miss the 1955 New York boat show.


I love it, this is what this is all about. Uncovering the motivation of design, and the emotion built into our beloved boats. With that one thought, she is already alive, her soul is still with us. We all feel the same excitement, and that is life.


17 replies
  1. George Burgess
    George Burgess says:

    Matt the date in the lower right corner is the shipping date, when the boat leaves the factory. At the top of the “Runabout Boat Equipment Record” is the Plant and B.S.O. No. (Boat Shop Order). The B.S.O. is the order or sequence that boats are built in the factory. So the 18 ft tarp find Cobra has a B.S.O. of 6467. As a comparison Cobra BR-21- 00P has a B.S.O. of 6703 and a shipping date of 1-14-1955. Since both boats were built in Algonac it appears that the order to build Cobra’s started with the 21 ft.

  2. Bob Miklos
    Bob Miklos says:

    The Arabian at the 1955 New York Boat Show is Q 55 56 above in photo. Not the 1956 Arabian witch is QX 56 50 Phil Andrews boat. Century made the boat larger in 1956, where the 1955 were made off the older Sea Maid line. The 1954 Black Arabian was a one off boat using the Sea Maid 20 as its starting boat .One other note on the 1956 Arabian was not a show boat Century used it for testing and then sent it to the dealer for more testing after to be sold.

    • tommyholm
      tommyholm says:

      Good job Bob, I mostly agree with you and stand ready to arm wrestle you if need be. attached is what I would deem the prototype Arabian AKA Black Arabian. circa 1954. this is well documented in Mr. William Wittig’s book “The Story of the Century”.

  3. Bob Miklos
    Bob Miklos says:

    On the grey bilge topic, we’ve come across a number of Century boat that came with white in the bilge in the motor area, along with a 55 Arabian with a gray stain also in the motor area, that we know to be Show Boats.

  4. Rick
    Rick says:

    Matt, firstly great job with these articles, really enjoying it!!

    Two questions… how many cobras are in existence? How will Katz re-create those front frames that were damaged without a template?

  5. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    With all these questions about the 00-p, has anyone reached out to Chris Smith, who would have been working at the plants during this period?
    I have found he has a memory as sharp as a tack, and we all know how much he loves to talk about those good old days…

  6. hank
    hank says:

    What differentiates the cobra from the 18ft Continental except a tapered freeboard from bow to stern and a fiberglass fin; the hull is the same; no performance difference; art deco boat
    please enlighten me on the big deal ; what am I not seeing

  7. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    Did chris craft ever leave the factory with a cream/white bilge? I have a capri with a cream bilge and cream motor which is the original. It also has gold plated hardware. Maybe it was a showboat. It was delivered 12/29/55. I also have the original shipping cradle. It came out of storage last year after a 50 year sleep.

    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Doubt it came from the factory that way unless there’s at least some documentation from the factory in the Mariner’s Museum. I’d say likely done early on most by a dealer trying to make a statement. Does remind of the Austin Healey called “Goldie” with gold plated trim.

      • steve bunda
        steve bunda says:

        Had a Chris Craft 17 ft Rocket in the shop a few years ago with a off white factory painted bilge . Engine was blue.

        • Andy C
          Andy C says:

          There is no sign of the typical red bilge paint anywhere. Same with the motor, no blue anywhere

  8. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Great stories Matt…. thank you. Am I reading Century history on a C.C. story ?? 😁😁😁😁

  9. Dave
    Dave says:

    Can’t beat north in summer, south in winter. The Brainerd lakes MN area is in the heart of classic, deep, and CLEAN lakes (14,000) world-class boat collections, 6-8 annual summer classic boat shows, top notch restorers, home of Mayo Clinic, and the head waters of the Mighty Mississippi River where one can boat for hundreds of miles in clean water, kick back on sand bars, experience river locks and dams, small towns along the way, and suitable for about any size boat! In or around Tavares during the winter works out too!

    • Mike Simmons
      Mike Simmons says:

      Tell me more! I’v been to the Boundry Waters many times and I enjoy Minnesota. I’m retired now and would love to cruise the rivers of Minnesota.

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