WHEN WE TALK ABOUT rare pre-war Chris-Craft boats, the focus usually turns to the iconic triple cockpit runabouts from the 1920s, ’30s and early ’40s – the timeless Barrelbacks from the late 1930s and early ’40s – or the stylish 25′ Red & White Express Cruiser.
One pre-war Chris-Craft that doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves today is the ultra-rare 25-foot Sportsman. After all – there were only 25 copies built between 1940 & 1941.
Compare that to the much sought-after (low production) post-war 25′ Sportsman that we have all come to appreciate here at Woody Boater. Only 208 SP-25s were built between 1946 & 1950 (according to the Chris-Craft Essential Guide by Jerry Conrad).
We should note that a quick review of pre-war 25-foot Chris-Craft models in the Essential Guide indicates that the 25-foot platform was a popular length of hull back then.
25′ Custom Runabout – 1933 to 38. (76 built)
25′ Family “Streamline” Cruiser – 1935. (197 built)
25′ Utility Cruiser – 1935. (14 built)
25′ Single Cabin Cruiser – 1936. (47 built)
25′ Streamline Cruiser – 1936. (76 built)
25′ Utility Cruiser – 1936. (14 built)
25′ Clipper – 1937 to 1939. (353 built)
25′ Semi-Enclosed – 1937 to 1939. (136 built)
25′ Enclosed Cruiser/Deluxe Enclosed – 1940 to 1941 (314 built)
25′ Cruiser (Green & White) – 1940. (134 built)
25′ Express Cruiser – 1940 to 1942. (68 built)
25′ Sportsman – 1940 to 1941. (25 built)
However the pre-war 25′ Sportsman stood out as both an elegant and practical boat in the early 1940s.
The pre-war 25-foot Sportsman evolved from the earlier 1937-39 24-foot Sportsman. Below is a photo of a 1937 24-foot Sportsman with twin “K” power, that Dane Anderson shot in 2004 during the Lake Minnetonka Rendezvous in Minnesota. As you can see, the 1937-39 Sportsman looks very similar to the later 25-foot Sportsman from 1940-41.
We reached out to our friend Brian Robinson at Robinson Restoration in California for some insight into the rare pre-war 25-foot Sportsman. Here are some fast facts:
– Approximately 8 or 9 of the original 25 built exist today.
– Hull numbers 12501 to 12525.
– 14 built in 1940 / 11 built in 1941.
– Twin engine power option was available, but none built that we know.
– Of the 25 built, 8 were built as sedans.
– All but 2 were built with green leather upholstery.
– All had green seems and waterline, and green linoleum.
– Only subtle changes in design from pre-war to post-war, with the biggest change going from a pointy bow and no rails (pre-war) to a big round bow with toe rails (aka monkey-rails) with updated hardware and slightly different windshield (post war).
The upgraded 25-foot Sportsman in shown in this post-war Chris-Craft brochure.
A few weeks ago, we received an e-mail from fellow Woody Boater Jimmy (in Georgia) who thought it would be interesting to ask our viewers “The Pre-War Chris-Craft 25′ Sportsman – Where are they now?”
Jimmy noted – We all say we want a 46-50 25′ Sportsman right? Well what about the rare the prewar 1940-1941 25′ Sportsman? Why don’t we ever see one at shows like Dora or Tahoe? They also came with an optional sedan roof like the post war did. But, wait a minute what happened to them! Why are there none with a sedan roof?! It seems that no 40/41 sedans exists anymore! There has to be at least one sedan left. Something only the Woody Boater community could answer. – Jimmy
We also checked the new 2015 ACBS Directory for some clues. The Directory is a wealth of information and one of the many benefits of being a member of the Antique & Classic Boat Society. Here is what we found on the pre-war SP-25 – not sure if any are sedans.
1940 SP-25 Models
Cook, MN – Scripps 225
Dalton City, IL – Chris-Craft M 130
Tupper Lake, NY – Volvo V8 (a 1940 Kermath is un-mounted)
Annapolis, MD – Chrysler 125
Grand Rapids, MI – Chrysler 160
1941 SP-25 Models
Sarnac Lake, NY – Chrysler V8 375
Hartwell, GA – Chris-Craft M 130
Mt Dora, FL – Chris-Craft MBL 158
Versailles, KY – Chris-Craft 160 (W?)
Story Update: There is some confusion in terms of what engine options were available for the pre-war 25-foot Sportsman – based on the information provided in the first edition Chris-Craft Essential Guide. To better understand exactly what engines were available for the 1940/41 25′ Sportsman, we decided to refer to the original 1940 Chris-Craft Price Sheet below.
In the category of 25′ Sportsman (Model 7 thru 11) the engine options are as follows:
95 S.D. – 95HP Speed Drive Chris-Craft K (1.25:1 reduction);
130 S.D. – 130HP Speed Drive Chris-Craft MS (1.25:1 reduction);
160 D.D. – 160 HP Direct Drive Chris-Craft W;
223 D.D. – 223 HP Direct Drive Scripps 208;
2-95 D.D. – Twin 95 HP Direct Drive Chris-Craft K;
Note: In 1940 two boats were built as special order “owner Chrysler Royal installed” engines, which were 145HP. – Texx
So we thought we would try something different today. If you have any info or photos related to the whereabouts of any documented or undocumented pre-war 25-foot Sportsman boats out there, we would love to hear from you. Or if you have one under a tarp in your back yard, please let us know. You can either post the photos and/or information in the comment section below, or send us the photos/information by e-mail at Texx@woodyboater.com and we will post it directly to the story today.
Oh and by the way, any post-war SP-25 owners, you are welcome to join in as well… What the heck, let’s just declare today as a 25′ Sportsman party. (Man I hope this story doesn’t bomb on me…)
Andy Chudy shared a few shots.
Here is SP 189 which I think is a ’49. It has not seen daylight since the early 70’s. The pictures are not very good and I apologize for that (the boat is wedged in a corner of a building with a bunch of other untouched Chris-Crafts). On another note, in the same building is a 50’s side steer Lyman (last picture) that was the actual mail boat of Sodus Bay NY for 20 years. – Andy Chudy
Terry Hurley from Cook, Minnesota shared a few shots of his SP-25s. First shots is his 1940 pre-war SP-25 coming out of the shed on a new trailer for the first time since the 70’s!!! (This boat is noted in the list above)
And the second shot here is Terry’s post-war 1947 SP-25 with the optional Streamlined Ventilating cabin getting put to bed last winter. This boat was restored by Robinson Restoration last year, you can Click Here to see the story we did on “Flagship”. – Texx
Art Armstrong also shared some photos of his interesting 1939 Chris-Craft Utility.
Texx – I own a 1939 24′ 9″ Chris-Craft Deluxe Utility, which has the Sportsman front seat, but was specially ordered with the bait box live well jump seat as the second seat. It originally came with an LB engine.
In 1938 the Chris-Craft family ordered 7 boats built for 7 family members, on the 24′ 9″ hull. After the materials were ordered, one of the family members decided the he didn’t want a boat. My grandfather, Milton Meyer, was a friend of Owen Smith and Owen asked my grandfather if he wanted to buy one of the boats. The answer was yes and it was early enough for my grandfather to order it like he wanted too.
Here she is… “MOLLY-O” – Art Armstrong