$49k For A 16 Racer Hydro. We Can All Learn Something.


The Bid history

First lets suspend our personal checking account balance. Just get yourself in a mental place where you are gonna spend Over 100K for a boat. A Cobra, Sportsman, barrel back.. All boats worth over 100K. And lets say you cant find the one you want. You have a budget set, and so the boat, the pattern, history, and fact its one of a very few. Then the purchase of the boat is the base where it all starts. In the end, the owner will have a $150K rare race boat. And whats so different than a Cobra, or other model? Actually, this is smarter since its so rare.


Add in the fact that if the purchaser is a restorer, or DIYer, its another smart play. Add to that, we are in a sort of inflation period that no one will talk about yet, its a smart use of money now.

Miss Step in progress at Katzs marina

On top of this great news, the passion of classic boating is also given a huge boost of confidence. This sort of thing is critical to our future. It helps restorers, parts being reproduced, and every aspect of the culture.

How many are out there? Stay tuned

By the way, go out there and try and find any boat, new, used plastic garbage cans. And you will be shocked. A simple pontoon can be 50K plus, a 20 ft center console, 60K+, And they are worth 50% of that the next week after you buy them. This little racer, is and all little racers are now worth far more than they were two days ago. So, thats art. And thats good for all of us. Thankyou to the two ebay fighters for this!

18 replies
  1. Bob Schoepe
    Bob Schoepe says:

    BTW, the winning bidder’s final bid would have likely been higher. How much higher? You don’t actually see that final bid amount.

  2. mikeS
    mikeS says:

    Sorry Matt, I have to disagree. I don’t see the values of u-22s and 18 Rivieras climbing due to two investors competing for an ultra-rare race boat. The buyer’s journey has just begun and procurement of the missing parts will add at least another $10k. As stated, the restoration will probably be in the $80K range on top. It all comes down to supply and demand. This inflation you speak of has more to do with the supply / demand issue due to covid. Material costs are all up, and the shortages of trades people to do the work are real. All of this adds cost to our passion, but I don’t think it adds value. I hope I’m wrong.
    Either way it’s great that this boat has found a new home with someone who can apparantly afford to save it. Looking forward to updates.

  3. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    Am I missing something here? There is a pretty nice looking red and white race boat for sale for 39000 on the big brokerage site…

  4. Andy in Middletown
    Andy in Middletown says:

    I wonder how high the final bid would have been had the ‘media’ not picked this up and provided the advertising that got the words out to the boating community. Amazing advertising for the seller, but I would find it hard to believe that the final sale price would have been the same without the ‘hype. Also, not knocking said ‘media’, they are doing their jobs, and the bidder ultimately knew what they wanted to spend.

  5. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    Look at it this way and forget about the boat for a minute……..
    In order to properly restore this watercraft, even as small as it is, will require the involvement of many suppliers and craftspeople. All will benefit from this individual’s commitment to bring it back to life.
    Parts will be purchased, a correct engine or two will need to be sourced and rebuilt, wood, correct hardware, wiring, interior, plating, stain, varnish, screws, new trailer, insurance, etc, etc, etc, etc.
    Something many of us have been through.
    In the end, congratulate this person for making the buy and be willing to open their checkbook to others who will benefit because of it.
    Money doesn’t work unless it flows and this project will help a number of people that support the passion for our hobby.
    Just ask Matt about his railway or me about our marina. All projects involve hiring people, purchasing materials and writing checks to others. (Well, maybe not Jimmy. I think he works for free just because he’s crazy too!😄)
    It’s a win-win.

  6. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I don’t consider information to be hype, in this case it is/was simple facts in respect of a rare and evidently coveted boat and the word got out.

    Someone yesterday commented that the boat sold for more than many people make in a year (many, many boats do). I can’t think of a more irrelevant observation, and the people that make $50k or less were unlikely to be bidding for this item. The value and price is only determined by the strength and desires of people with discretionary capital, and they choose to expend that capital in exchange for many things – in this case a rare vintage hydro. Some like art, wine, collector cars, jewelry, watches – it is never ending. So what if it’s a boat they choose? Surprising and elevated sales prices for many vehicles are a daily event on BAT, so the boat is not an island.

    To the bidders, that boat was worth to them at that time the amount of their final bids. If you were not a bidder, then the boat had little or no value to you, or it was surpassed by other things in your personal hierarchy of wants. As both bidders and spectators, we all get to decide what the item is worth to us at that particular moment, nothing more and nothing less. We don’t get to speak for others and market value comments are subjective and personal, and consequently biased and unreliable. The market value of this boat yesterday was it’s selling price on that day and at that time. If your opinion of that Hydro’s market value is different, then it is also wrong – assuming the bids were all legitimate.

    I don’t think the sale price is a watershed – Matt can ask the brokers and sellers of all manner of vintage and classic boats and see if their boats start selling more quickly, at higher prices or at all. This was a very rare example of limited practical use – it’s pretty much the same now as the day it was built in usability and practicality. Some folks wanted it pretty badly, and they bid accordingly. That’s likely the end of it, though I’d like to be proven wrong with data in 6 or 12 months time.

  7. Steve Anderson from Michigan
    Steve Anderson from Michigan says:

    Kudos to the new owner! I only hope that he is willing to share the experience with us going forward.

    The rewards for a lifetime of hard work and/or good decisions have to be available. Otherwise, what’s the point of working hard and making good decisions?

    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      I will not reveal the winner but I think it is safe to say there will be lots of videos on the restoration of GNAT forthcoming. But it is up to buyer to come forward.
      I already have an invite to come and drive it once it is completed.

  8. Rick
    Rick says:

    Yes maybe it is a lot of money for a boat but at the same time the news reported that an original pair of sneakers (from Kanye West?) Was expected to bring in 1 million at auction. People want what they want.

  9. Greg Rice
    Greg Rice says:

    I don’t believe that it is fair to say that this is a game changer, or that all little racers are worth more today that they were a few days ago. A review of the bidding shows that there were two interested parties who wanted the boat and were willing to pay a great deal of money for it. That is what you hope for as a seller. If there had been only one less bidder, the boat would have sold for $18,000. It would not be correct to assume that all similar boats increase in value because of this competition between two individual bidders. There were not an unlimited njumber of bidders for this item. Only two. And now, probably only one.

  10. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    One fact is the wood boat market of unrestored , fully restored , or anything in-between, has lagged behind the classic car market. Wood boats build numbers are way less than the bulk of classic cars and should command prices to reflect that . Wood boat buyers have many different reasons for has or hers investment . It is not unusual for some boats to be purchased , restored, used once or very sparingly and reside in the man cave . Just as many collector cars do. This transaction on the Chris Craft hydro is great news for the woody boat community. I thank the new owner for their passion and vision. At one time I had over a dozen collector boats and have paired down the collection to more desirable and rare boats. Along with user boats for daily and weekly use. It never gets old to take people out on the water for their first woody boat experience.

  11. Jeff Funk
    Jeff Funk says:

    As much as I’d like to believe this is the beginning of a ‘post pandemic’ trend for our classics escalating in value, it’s one special boat and not reflective of the hobby in general. If other not-so-rare classics begin bringing in significantly higher numbers than they did a few years ago, then that’s a trend.

  12. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Greg Rice nailed it. With all the exposure this boat had, there were only two bidders who thought it was worth more than $18k. That is an anomaly, not a sign of movement in the market.

    This will not prove to be a good financial investment, but it could be a smart way to SPEND money. The return will be in the experience and the memories, not dollars upon sale.

  13. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Matt has hit on a lot of good points in this article today . You can look at this event as a single transaction for a very rare boat that the market has set the price. The work and cost to restore this boat will help many people to continue in their businesses. The journey for this boat and owner has just begun.
    Interest in wood boats is growing because of the mystique and the desire to have something different. We are seeing a lot of the younger generations stepping forward purchasing and restoring wood boats . This auction would not even have raised an eyebrow if it was a 50’s Chris Craft , Sportsman, or Capri. Granted because of the rarity of the Hydro the final auction numbers on a 50’s boat would be different , but the enthusiasm and journey to restore would be the same.
    ALL Woody Boats Trending Up in Price? YES, wood boat interest and sales are up across the board , and has been for over a year . Look at the market for rare boats like Barrels, Cobras, and Racing runabouts as they are selling, and for much more than just a few years ago. The rest of the wood boats that are not so rare will also appreciate in value. Ask a couple of restoration shops, and many will tell you they have seen renewed interest especially from the next generation of woodyboater. Thus logically supply and demand will drive the value of most wood boats up.

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