The legendary 1929 30′ Dingle runabout “Gerry Lo” had a rough ride after the historic Mecum / Warner Auction in late 2010. Much has been written about the auction, the role that “Gerry Lo” played in the subsequent fallout from the auction, so we don’t need to go there.
This one of a kind wooden runabout was custom built by Joseph Dingle Boat Works of St. Paul, Minnesota at a cost of $25,000. “Gerry Lo” was commissioned in 1929 for Minnesota inventor and businessman Frank Wolcott Griswold. After her original launch in 1929, with her original Capitol converted Curtiss D12 V-12 engine, “Gerry Lo” earned a reputation as being “The fastest boat on Lake Minnetonka.”
The 80-plus year history of the custom built Dingle was covered by historian Bob Speltz in his book The Real Runabouts I and is also well documented on the Internet. However good photos of “Gerry Lo” in the water are difficult to find and not that common… Until now.
Over the holidays fellow Woody Boater Dane Anderson shared with us some of his unique photographs from his many years of covering boat shows in and around Minnesota. And to our surprise, Dane had some great shots of “Gerry Lo” that we thought would be fun to share with the Woody Boater community today. The photos at the dock (above and below) were shot in September 2005 at Lake Minnetonka, MN.
At the time (and at auction) “Gerry Lo” was powered by a 1941 Rolls-Royce Meteor V-12 producing over 600 HP.
Mr. Frank K. Griswold, of Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota decided he wanted a new inboard speedboat. He proceeded to contact both Chris-Craft and Hacker concerning the boat he wanted built, but seemed neither firm was interested, so Griswold visited with Dingle Boat Company, and they proceeded to build one of the finest custom inboard runabouts I or anyone else have ever seen!
Words almost fail to capture the true beauty of this fine boat! I am sure she was one of the only Dingle runabouts of her type ever built. Unusual equipment must include her “V” windshield as well as her chrome, oval style step plates.
Even her name is in script, chrome style writing in big letters along each side towards the bow. Again this boat is nothing but class all the way…
The Dingle Boat Works of St. Paul, Minnesota spanned more than 50 years of powerboat building at the head of the Mississippi River across from downtown St. Paul.
Bob Speltz – The Real Runabouts I
Below are a few more shots from Dane of “Gerry Lo” from the 2001 Whitefish Chain Antique and Classic Boat Rendezvous at Moonlite Bay on Cross Lake, MN when the boat was owned by F. Todd Warner from Mahogany Bay boats. (By the way, you can click on any of the photos today to enlarge them)
I can say that when I first saw this big hulk of a boat on the trailer at the Mecum / Warner Auction in 2010, I had a hard time trying to imagine what it would actually look like in the water, so these photos from Dane were great to see, and they provide a good perspective of just how she looked in the water a few years ago.
“Gerry Lo” was originally named after the children of the Griswold family – Geraldine and Lois Mary Griswold… I am not exactly sure where the 1929 Dingle is today, so I won’t speculate… but hopefully, some day the boat will re-emerge and once again grace the waters of America’s Lakes.
Since we first received the photographs of “Gerry Lo” from Dane, behind the scenes we have been having this (fun) ongoing debate about now to best describe the styling and overall architecture of the big Dingle. Some like the look, some don’t like the look… Some even think it’s ugly – but I won’t say who that is…
So today we are asking the question –
“In your opinion, what single word best describes Gerry Lo?”
And don’t hold back, we want to know – I have some money riding on this… (You are also welcome to provide additional commentary if you like) The winner of the best word (as voted on by a panel of experts) will receive a special Woody Boater prize pack.
A side note, in the above 2005 photos from Lake Minnetonka you can just see an outline of a red and white Higgins across the dock. I asked Dane and he confirmed that this is the 1955 Higgins 23′ Sportspeedster that was once owned by Dan Nelson at Nelson Boat Works in Minnesota.
At the time this was Dan’s go-to classic boat, which was later completely restored by Nelson Boat Works, and is now owned by the Ploetner family in New Jersey. “Foxy Lady” has won many top level awards throughout the country over the last few years and is a real treat to see in person if you ever get the chance.
Here’s what the Higgins looked like before she was restored, with Dan at the helm in 2001 at Moonlight Bay, MN. (I hope I have my facts straight on the ’55 Higgins, if not – Don P. and Dan Nelson please jump in)