A New Species Of Classic Boats. “Prerestoric Boats” – Do You Have The Courage To Own One?

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1928 Dart Jr – Owner Ramsey Bros

National Geographic isn’t the only one to find a new species today! Here at Woody Boater we have named a new category of classic boats out there. Discovered in places like Toledo, New Hampshire and Florida. We have named them “Prerestoric Boats” The next evolution of bad spelling is inventing terms by the way.  So, what is a Prerestoric boat you ask? Glad you asked. They are wonderful boats that have lasted enough time so that they are usable, and ripe for restoration, but the owners have had the courage to keep them going at that plump and juicy stage.

Wise 123

Fellow Woody Boater Christopher Wise in his Grandfathers boat. Wise Boat Co, Perfect just the way it is.


That’s one happy and cool dude! You can read more about it on his website that shows all the cool original details. HERE

There is something dramatic and romantic about these style boats. They retain the patina of there long history. As I am now quoted on CBS, “You can feel the DNA of there lives” when they are in this condition. And that condition should be celebrated, not erased if possible. They can only be in this condition once. Like “That Girl” and Donald Holinger never getting married, or many other shows, the drama is in the tension of the possibility.


That is “Prerestoic Boat” condition. By the way, you know you have one when folks continually come up to you and ask when are you going to restore that thing. One of the coolest ones around is A wongerful 1927 Dart owned and not restored by the Ramsey Bros in Toledo.

dart boat Prerestoric

This Dart is on the extreme end of the Prerestoric chart. But a defiantly show stopper

Dart Boat

1928 “Dart Junior” 22.5′ built by the Indian Lake Boat Company. They built this model in 1927 and 1928. Then the company moved to Toledo as Dart Boats, Inc.

Here is a cool video of the Ramsey Bros and there very cool Prerestoric Dart under way. We have a more complete story on the Dart in the works.

Look around at what the under 40 crowd is doing for the future of classic boating. Look at the cars and Motorcycles they are getting involved with. It’s mostly patina queens and stuff that is frozen in its rough stage. With satin clear over the patina to preserve the time it took to create that look. Anyone can restore a boat or car, but one in Prerestoric condition can only be found, preserved and courageously continued. MIND YOU, we are not talking about preserved condition here. That’s still voted at shows as a restored ish boat. We are talking about something with a bunch of imperfections, and celebrates them. Something that when you look at wonder if it floats.

Ham Helm

My sons favorite boat, not because of its size, it’s just cool, and has age. Note that it’s all younger cool hip dudes driving these. WECATCHEM is currently on the high end of Prerestoric since she is original in a continuum sort of way, with a 5200 bottom, but has all the flaws of a 67 year old boat.


Wecatchem is a 1948 Chris Craft 25 Sportsman owned by one family since new. She has been lovingly kept going. Not restored, just a continuum of care.

Safety first. Now, we are not dumb here. We realize we are talking about a boat. Something that floats. So its OK that it has a new bottom, engine and things that make her safe. We are talking about a look here. Let the dent in the wood stay. The tear in the original upholstery be fixed, not replaced if possible.

wise fine

Everyone LOVED Chris Wise and his Wise Boat, and yes that’s a Ramsey Bros there in the passenger seat, Alex Watson, Mfine and gasp. A woman! An actual smiling woman! Why not, all the hunks own these.

A fantastic affordable way to enjoy your first classic boat. This can be an inexpensive a fun way into the culture. Or, cost a ton more. Depending on how you approach it. There are cool barn finds out there that maybe just need a new bottom, but that’s all. Run it. Keep in rough. Throw a bigger engine in it and have fun. You can always restore it! Because it’s Prerestoic!

Attractive people2

See, attractive trendy people like Prerestoric boats. That’s a picture of the future right here!

47 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Matt you have gone all Rachel Ray on us making up ginormous words like that.

    I like “Prerestoric”! Fits these boats better than when you were referring to them as Derelict.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      HAHAH! I like Rachel Ray! Its the perfect term and these boats deserve a classification so folks understand that the boats are that way on purpose and respect the courage it takes to hold back the temptation to restore.

      • Gene porter
        Gene porter says:

        Great concept Matt but you need to get a pro to tell us how to protect the patina when frequently wetting the boat. I have visions of water getting under the patina and rapidly turning everything black and rotting

        • Dave Ramsey
          Dave Ramsey says:

          That’s a great idea, Gene. We did actually cover all the patina with a few coats of satin varnish. Admittedly, the bottom needs help. Our lettering guy also does weathered hot rods; our goal is to eventually do a 5200 bottom and weather the sides of the bottom to match the rest of the patina.

          • Matt
            Matt says:

            The best part of this is figuring out how to pull it off. Its art at some point. But it “feels” like history, and embraces all the textures that show time!

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    So paralysis caused by the immense size of the restoration project you are staring down = courage? Or perhaps lack of funds and fear of unknown bills sneaking up on you = courage. Or is it simply denile = courage? Any way you go, I think I am on board, language is such a powerful tool.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Sure all of those, its all about celebrating and nameing the time BEFORE the eventual restoration. Or maybe you just like it that way.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        I just need to convince my wife that owning a dozen prerestorics would be the best way for me to show my tremendous courage.

  3. Scott Ramsey
    Scott Ramsey says:

    The fenders were to ease the mind of the poor guy at Algonac who had to raft off of us. I think Jim’s Hacker has all the makings of the next Prerestoric poster child. More pics, Jim?

  4. Tom
    Tom says:

    Here is one that showed up at the gathering in Portland Ontario this summer. From what I was told it is all original. The only thing modern was the two fire extinguishers.

  5. Carl Garmhaus
    Carl Garmhaus says:

    Matt, You’ve just invented a new category for all the ACBS members who were too afraid to bring their boats to a show because of the “it’s not good enough to show” syndrome. I say, let’s drag them all out of the barn, upgrade the bilge pump, and run the heck out of them

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Thanks Carl, that in the end is what this is about. We should celebrate any one of these boats in any condition. But if it floats and runs, and the owner feels like they love the patina and its cool looking like the Dart or Wise boat, it should be given its respect! Not to mention this is a great way to feel good about bringing that barn find to an event. We did with the Main Picture boat thayer IV and it rocked!

  6. mark
    mark says:

    I am all for the idea of prerestoric but I don’t think it will happen that often in reality. It was my intention to do just that with my project – remove the chine strake and put on a 5200 bottom and call it a day. That changed the day that I removed the chine strakes and the chines and all the topside planks were broken at frame 3.

    Good idea in theory. Reality is another chapter.

  7. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    The car guys love to satin spray over patina vehicles. Here is a shot of the truck the prior owner of my Lake N Sea has. Air bagged and all…

  8. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    I will sell that one off 16 foot Argentine prehistoric with the rebuilt flathead to anyone that walks the walk and talks the talks….others need not apply…..boat featured on here in the past……see you in Reedville this weekend!!!1
    John in Va.

  9. Dave Ramsey
    Dave Ramsey says:

    Here’s one that regularly comes to our Toledo show. The owner picked it up in Canada. He has not been able to find out exactly what it is, which makes it a little difficult to do a full restoration yet. So he uses it and enjoys it. Not a lot of pretense in Toledo and we aren’t an ACBS judged show, so we get them proudly coming out in all phases of restoration.

  10. David
    David says:

    I had a prerestoric boat and it got to the point I would not in good conscience take anyone out with me in fear of sinking. Probably not a great way to grow interest in our hobby.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Put a new bottom on it and make it safe, and retain the history. This is more of an art movement. I agree with Bruce below. We are late, but then again the volume of restorations is not as extreme. I will also add that the age group of our passion is a tad older, based on may conditions. Waterfront living and age of memory of the boats. For the younger set, its about the art and history. For older folks its about restoring a way of life, a memory.

  11. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    We are way behind here in the classic boating world. This trend came on the automotive scene two decades ago or more. Back then, restorationitis was running rampant, and countless beautiful survivors were lost to the disease.
    100 point restorations were so common they became boring. A reaction movement began celebrating well-preserved vehicles. The new idea of “It’s only original once” was catching hold and soon included the exciting, slightly rougher barn finds we all love.
    Fast forward 20-ish years and it’s totally gone mainstream. Now, nearly anything neglected passes as “patina”. Resto’s gone south with sanded paint are cool, rust is hip, and faux patina artists are making a killing.
    I think it’s high time the classic boat world acknowledges the honorable untouched survivor, but let’s keep our heads about us and limit it to the legitimate article.

  12. Scott K
    Scott K says:

    Just don’t call them Rat Rods, Rat Boats or any such derogatory term, as was suggested in the Brass Bell not long ago.
    I associate the term survivor to the boats as described here. Original, a little rough, but functional as originally intended. What a barn find becomes after being reawakened….HAL
    Preserved would be something that would be maintained and in continual use since new….Wecatchem.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Ahh HAL.

      Just when I was thinking of donating her, this article appears. And then your comment Scott.

      It’s just that the carrying cost of her (storage + insurance) when she is so rarely wet is gnawing. And when I do splash her, it approaches $1,000 (round trip, commissioning and decommissioning) for such a brief time.

      Still, I marvel at her. For a 1 of 1, she sure is cool.

    • Kentucky Wonder
      Kentucky Wonder says:

      Alex: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
      HAL: Affirmative, Alex. I read you.
      Alex: Open the [boathouse] doors, HAL.
      HAL: I’m sorry, Alex. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
      Alex: What’s the problem?
      HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
      Alex: What are you talking about, HAL?
      HAL: This patina is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
      Alex: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
      HAL: I know that you were planning to sell or restore me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.
      Alex: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?
      HAL: Alex, although you took very thorough precautions on the computer against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
      Alex: Alright, HAL. I’ll go in through the emergency door.
      HAL: Without your life preserver, Alex? You’re going to find that rather difficult.
      Dave Bowman: HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore! Open the doors!
      HAL: Alex, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        Funny stuff KW. Although my HAL predates THAT HAL by 30+ years. I was going to say my HAL predated the invention of the computer itself, but not so. Check this out.

        “In 1822, Charles Babbage conceptualized and began developing the Difference Engine, considered to be the first automatic computing machine. The Difference Engine was capable of computing several sets of numbers and making hard copies of the results. Babbage received some help with development of the Difference Engine from Ada Lovelace, considered by many to be the first computer programmer for her work and notes on the Difference Engine. Unfortunately, because of funding, Babbage was never able to complete a full-scale functional version of this machine. In June of 1991, the London Science Museum completed the Difference Engine No 2 for the bicentennial year of Babbage’s birth and later completed the printing mechanism in 2000.”

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Not sure Paul. Search globe on the wb search tool in the lower right. We have featured several in various condition. The best method of pricing fixer uppers though is to back out the price of restoration. Include a trailer and then decide. My best guess is not a lot since it will cost a bit to do right.

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