“GEMALU” – A Chris-Craft 18′ Cobra (Hull # BR-18-001) was shipped to the Tahoe Boat Company on February 7, 1955 with a Hercules KBL 131hp 6 cylinder engine. At the time, Tahoe Boat Company was the Chris-Craft dealer which was located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, California. This particular boat is the first production 18′ Cobra of a total of only 52 produced by Chris-Craft in 1955, including a prototype version (Hull # BR-18-00P). The Cobras were only produced for one model year, in 1955.
Fellow Woody Boater Brian Robinson from Robinson Restoration in Fallbrook, CA shared these rare photos of “GEMALU” with us, of when it was originally delivered from the Chris-Craft plant to Tahoe Boat Company in 1955. Fred Main from Tahoe Boat Company is shown below overseeing the delivery.
“GEMALU” is now consigned to be auctioned at the 2012 Mecum Kissimmee Auction in late January. These rare Chris-Craft Cobras continue to be popular classic boats and attract a great deal of attention at boat shows around the country and in past Mecum Auctions in Monterey, CA in 2010 and Kissimmee, FL in 2011.
Much has been written about the Chris-Craft Cobra series of boats, here is an excerpt from Craig Magnusson’s “Chris-Craft by the Numbers”…
The COBRAS, both the 18′ and the 21′, were Chris-Craft’s attempt to update the racing runabout concept with mid-50s styling, including the famous tail fins. The little 18′ was loosely based upon pre-war 16′ racing runabouts with the top engine option a 131 hp “KBL.” The 21′ was based upon the 19′ racing runabout with an extended bow and both M-series engines and V-8 options. The Cadillac powered 21′ COBRAS were Chris-Craft’s first post-war attempt at true high performance runabouts, with top speeds easily exceeding 50 mph. Unfortunately, handling problems ensued. With their labor-intensive fiber glass fins and deck lids, the COBRAS were never intended for large scale production and were only produced during the 1955 model year. A total of 51 18’s and 55 21’s were produced.
Craig Magnusson – Chris Craft by the Numbers – Post-War Runabouts
Below is a copy of an original Chris-Craft spec sheet from 1955 for both the 18′ and 21′ Cobra, you can click on the image to slightly enlarge it.
So if you want to impress your buddies (or the girls depending on your situation) at the lake next spring by having the first ever production Cobra made, make plans to attend the Mecum Kissimmee Auction on January 24-29, 2012 at the Osceola Heritage Park in sunny Kissimmee, Florida.