In Classic Boating, If It’s Rare, Is It Worth More?

Triples are rare, but sadly a bit soft in sales these days.

If you look around online these days there are a bunch of “rare” boats for sale. Now, they are priced on the higher end of what sort of condition they are in. And to be honest, even if they were fully restored would be all that much more. So why is that? I mean if it’s rare? Shouldn’t it be more valued?  Not necessarily.  In many cases, OK, most cases, a boat is rare because no one wanted another one, so it would be rare.

Rare 1964 Cavalier, and well. Lets just say “She does her own cooking, and sewing.” Hey! Don’t get mad at me. And if you think I am being judgmental, you can buy this one and prove me wrong.


I know, I know, there will be a mess of differing opinions, and that’s fine. . But it’s a sad fact of beauty and collectable status.

For some reason, metal boats just don’t reach the money. Take the entire Roamer Series Chris Crafts. A cool idea, and rare, BUT?

The reason why some boats are worth more than others is because they were popular.  U22’s, Barrel backs, Cobras, seem to stand the test of time, Racers go up and down a bit, and do other runabouts. The market was flooded with 21 Continentals a couple years ago, Rare, but not rare when there are 4 perfect ones for sale. Now, in some special cases a rare VERSION of an iconic boat is worth more. Lets say one with a special color interior, FROM THE FACTORY, or number 1 or the last one made, or one with a special option.

The Number 1 Racing Runabout. Rare and Worth it – Katzs Marina

Or some of those very snazzy boats up in Canada, Or basically anything John Allen or Lee Anderson have.  That’s rare with a flair. Not rare with a dare… Yeah I just made that up. Not sure what it means, but you get the idea.

Yes, Rare, and Priceless.

16 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    It is pretty simple. Rare increases value if it is something a lot of people want. If something is rare because no one wanted it and few were made, like say a plaid interior for example :D, then it can be worth less.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      I think the plaid will increase the boats appeal for sure. It may Narrow the market but the boat won’t blend in and on top of that is the earliest known example of that model.

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    It is ALL about supply and demand.

    You say triples are rare, but there are a tone of them on the market (high supply) and the buyers seem to be more into post war user boats right now (low demand), thus low prices on triples.

    Go out and find yourself a Cobra with a hull card that indicates that it had a factory Cadillac and the price will soar (or sore whichever you prefer).

  3. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    I’ve had several one of a kind boats. When it came time to sell them it took a one of a kind person to buy them. Always a hard sell. Has to be desired too.

  4. Sean
    Sean says:

    Point: Rare does not equal valuable. Consider the current increase in plastic boat restoration. Pretty much anything with fins is being transported from a long forgotten backyard planter to a $25,000 collector piece with some new fibreglass and some paint.

    Set: Yet, these boats hold no significance in the development of the industry (other than there were many, many cheap crappy boats made at that time), They were not great design, not great performers and ultimately, not great sellers. The novelty of hitching one up (in matching colours) behind your 1960 Impala is high and can be a cool presentation…. with the car. It’s just that the boat is not that valuable even if the car is.

    Match: Of course, some plastic boats are desirable and worth something… like the Donzi Ski Sporter 16 but, there were scads of this particular boat made and they are not rare at all.

    Post Game: At the end of the day someone “loves” each of these orphan designs and will restore them, show them and use them. They will have great workmanship and may even stand out in a crowd. There’s nothing wrong with this and any efforts to save an old boat should be supported. Live and let live! Just remember, that just because money was spent restoring a boat, it does not follow that the boat is worth it in a monetary sense, even if it is worth it in a personal sense.

  5. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    “Rare” can be defined in many ways… I suppose three of my boats can serve as an example: 1) “Sindbad” – 1939 19′ split cockpit home-built, one of a kind, which makes it exceedingly rare. 2) “Rock-it 57” – 1957 15′ plywood outboard runabout/day-cruiser, built by Dakota, a small builder in Bellingham, WA , rare because plywood boats were inexpensive, usually didn’t last particularly long and not considered worth sinking money into. 3) “Spinner” 1936 Garwood model 671 20′ Cabin Utility, one of three known to exist of that year. Need I say more?

    All have provided great family memories and adventures over the years, which is (my opinion) where the real value lies. One can’t put a price on that! Even the Garwood, which I have stored for 30 years now, has provided pleasure in the dreams of planning the project and what it will be like to see it on the water again someday, though now it will probably be someone else who will have to make that happen. Why did I save it? It was purchased new by a family friend and after he passed in 1970 or so, went through a few hands before going into storage and I never have ridden in it – maybe someday!

    Rare is by definition uncommon. Value is in the emotion of the beholder. One does not necessarily establish the other.

  6. George Burgess
    George Burgess says:

    What is the learned opinion of a 21 ft. Cobra, hull number 003-the first hull with an MBL and one of only two with Chris- O-Matic. Currently the only one with MBL Chris-O-Matic.
    Also has Gold powder in varnish on engine hatches and fin.

  7. don danenberg
    don danenberg says:

    In the 1980’s,
    The guys whose grandfathers had triples, and showed them such, had finally owned waterfront property’s, and could now support such a toy themselves.
    In the 1990’s, the new water-front owners (with means) could support reconstruction of their grandfathers boats, to reconstruct their personal memories (of any better, younger, time).
    In the 2000’s, people whose grandfathers owned blond boats, had those memories….

    I’ve had people tell me; “I learned to drive a boat with that”, or “I lost my virginity in that”, etc.

    Its all about bringing about lost youth!

    The guys who lost their virginity in a triple, are all now gone!

    Something NEW must happen to pay for a triple.

  8. Russ Roque
    Russ Roque says:

    For me it’s about what I can have fun in. Can I go out with family and friends in my boat. Can you get up and move around if you want to. Those are the boats I’m into. I really do love all boats, but I’ve never found myself wanting a triple. Rarity is fine but Im about usability.


    Perfect example of rarity not equating to high collectible value is a Century Palvo, rare boat boat that commands small price. Two boats that I own are rare, but in my opinion are super undervalued: 1958 Silver Arrow and 1929 Dee Wite Outborad runabout. Like others say the value is in the eye of the beholder and owner not the rarity.

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