A huge shout out to Dane Anderson’s eye and his amazing camera and Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service who just did us a service and gave us a very cool timeless story. Two boats almost identical, on a side by side comparison. Who’s the winner. You will just have to read on!
That was always the question when I was a little kid, which one is better, Cadillac or Lincoln? If we extend that to our vintage boat world and ask: Chris-Craft or Century?
What if we could ask and answer both those questions by comparing just two boats, real world, head to head?
We got just that opportunity at the recent Whitefish Vintage Boat Show here in Minnesota. Having recently sold “Over the Top”, one of the best 1961 21’ Chris-Craft Continentals in the country, to Daryl and Shelly Konrad here on Lake Minnetonka, and knowing they wanted to show it up at Whitefish, we pulled our 1961 Century Coronado out of the barn to show there, too.
All we needed was Dane Anderson to take some photos for us. He was more than happy to oblige, and pulled his Spitfire out of the barn to use as the photo boat, also winning “best fiberglass” at the show, while he was at it!
First, let’s get the mechanicals out of the way: Chris-Craft: 430 ci Lincoln V-8, single four barrel, rated at 275 hp, original engine to the boat.
Century: 390 ci Cadillac V-8, two four barrels, originally rated at 325 hp, original engine to the boat.
Which one is faster? Not a fair fight, as we’ve been tweaking the Cadillac for several years, and it might not be exactly stock. The Lincoln is new to Daryl, and to us, so we’re still getting that right. Maybe we’ll do a rematch once we have the Lincoln properly tweaked. What I can say is the Cadillac sounds a lot faster once the two four barrels open up!
So how do the boats compare? Well, they’re both 21’ boats, so you’d expect them to be about the same size, right? When we got the catalogs and the tape measure out, we were amazed at how close they are! Since the Coronado was “there first” in the market, we have to posit the Continental was a full-on direct assault on the Coronado!
By the numbers:
Length 21’ 8” 21’
Beam 7’ 6 ½” 7’ 8”
Forward 35” 31 ½”
Aft 27” 21”
Draft 22” 21”
Weight 3500# max 2010# hull only
The Continental almost exactly matches the Coronado, or bests it slightly in each category. Weights would be almost the same, too, once you add in the weight of the hardtop and the engine in the Coronado!
Once we take the tape measure inside the boats, the plot really thickens!
Legroom 20” 18”
Seat height 14” 16”
Seat width 5’ 5” 5’ 10”
Legroom 8” 10”
Seat Height 12” 14”
Seat Width 4’ 4” 4’ 4”
Legroom 12” 10”
Seat Height 14” 9”
Seat width 6’ 5’ 5”
Engine Box 32” X 36” 47” X 36”
Every major measurement is very competitive between the two boats; the Continental usually comes out ahead. To beat the Coronado in ride comfort, each of the three seats in the Continetal are sprung, while you’re sitting on cushions in the Coronado.
Both boats feature similar, worm and pinion gear steering, but the Chris- Craft shifts and throttles up with one lever. The Coronado has a column mounted shift lever, with (Standard) Vernier throttle in the dash or (optional) foot pedal.
From a styling standpoint, both boats feature mid-century, rocket-inspired design. The Chris-Craft sports fiberglass fins, a fiberglass gull-wing hardtop, and turquoise, gold and prismatic charcoal vinyls.
The Century has a gull-wing hardtop, too, but it’s upholstered over brass tubing. Red and patterned white vinyls are used, with a patterned silver material on the dash.
It’s clear Chris-Craft had guns loaded for Century in 1961, but we’re the beneficiaries, 55+ years on, as we get to experience two of the coolest sport boats on the planet! Yep, they’re almost identical dimensionally, and each has its advantages. Which one wins? It depends whether you’re a Century or Chris-Craft man….. or Cadillac or Lincoln!
Well, thanks again Dave and Dane, what a fun story and it sure looks like the winner was you guys!