Will Classic Boats Ever Dramatically Increase In Value? Who Cares?

Me, 1980

I was looking at some crap barn find Porsche 911T online yesterday. A pile of rusty crap to be honest. And they wanted 44K for it. WTH? I know Porsche’s are nuts in the price area. Speedsters going for $500K and so on. And the part that makes me want to puke. BTW, good diet strategy. Weigh in Saturday..

Speedy! My two boys and Jr, I had to sell it to pay tuition. Sold it for 15k and felt lucky

I have owned a bunch of them. 356 convertible, 911’s out the wazoo and so on. you could by and sell them for under 10 K all day long. And that’s nothing. Fixing them makes doing a boat a cake walk. And boats don’t rust.

Same house, different Porsche, I had two then.

In my office in 20014. This one I still wish I had. Bought for 6K sold for 8K… ALL ORIGINAL. AHHH 911 E

Got board of this one. I sold it to buy my first boat, I had about 5 more, 944’s, 914’s, another 356. It goes on to an obsession. ALL SOLD for boats.

So the big question is… will our woody boats ever take off like that? like Ferrari’s in the late 80’s or muscle cars in the 90’s.

ya, I lost money on this one. 390, bucket seats. Disc breaks. All of it.

Even started to Race, had 5 of these to trash. This is the only photo I can find. It was a comp of the colors

Never again. Thanks Alan for the trial.

1980, with my buddy Scott

Had three orange cars at one point. That Volvo had 25K miles on it and is a TANK. A pal still owns her now. LOVES It. I have first right on that one. UGH, sorry got caught up in memory lane in my files. BOATS.. Yes, boats!

Segway photo.

For the record there is not ONE car I have ever owned I made a cent on. Not one, and I think its somewhere around 50 cars. Mustangs, Camaro’s, Mopars, Pontiac’s,

We called her “Flash”

Oldsmobile’s, VW’s out the wazoo. BMW’s , oof, M3, M5 Z1 for a week Coolest car.

Didn’t own it, but had it for a week in Munich while working on the BMW account. Insane fun

Coravirs, Spyders, all of them. I kept trying to find some sort of relationship. 

Lost a small fortune on this one. but she is still out there and runs great, so i am proud of that legacy and See it as an education in who I work with and trust. Its the boat that started Woody Boater

From time to time there is a “hot” boat of the year or two. Barrel backs, 21′ gull wing Continentals, Cobras, and racers. Sportsman are kinda timeless, as are the basic runabouts and utilities. Hackers hold value well, as to some of the insane rare crown jewel boats. Pretty much all the boats up in Minnesota and Tahoe.


But exploding prices like 100K early 911’s? Jaguars? hey dont say its the repairs or reliability factor. Porsche’s and Jags are crappy from a reliability argument. So will they? And do we want them too? Are we happy as pigs in crap to be able to go into a barn and drop $500 on a boat? Would $50K on that same boat be as fun?

Fun is in the eye of the tiller holder! BTW also Minnesota

Isn’t part of the fun of these boats, its the true value they bring. Ya they cost money, but in return, you are in the coolest boat within miles. Unless you are at a show, then you are just one more sinking boat at the dock. AH

Priceless fun! Wouldn’t take a bazillion bucks for it. She cant be replaced at this point. And maybe that’s the point.

Cars are mass produced, and yes so are our boats. But in a more human way. Each boat is a work of individual art. Named so, and woody boats hold there life in their wood. They are not a commodity. Porsches, Muscle cars, bring no real joy to our hearts. Our egos? Yes, but temporarily. Emotion, love and a relationship, can be had with a boat. And that that can’t be bought.

76 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Damn Matt, you have had a lot of cars. Glad you made the switch to the varnish head world and became mayor of WoodyBoaterville! I think it’s more fun and as you said, they don’t rust!

  2. Todd C
    Todd C says:

    Short Wheel Base (SWB) went crazy two or three years ago. They have settled down a little. Dino Ferrari’s did the same around then also. We have had allot of the same cars. Boats we are pretty different. I just hope she doesn’t sell any of it for what I told here I paid for it.

  3. Matt
    Matt says:

    I remember the Dino thing when I lived out west. As I recall its right after Enzo passed away and a couple of guys started to buy them all up. BTW, a real pile of crap!

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I don’t think our boats will ever take off in value and popularity like that. Our audience is too small. Just about anyone can drive a car and would love to have a COOL one, not so with boats.

    We are blessed to be able to be part of this society!

  5. George Emmanuel
    George Emmanuel says:

    There’s a good reason to stick with boats. As stated, not many out there, but they are much better in the eye candy department! Pull your Woodie down the road and everybody looks. Drive your Porsche down the interstate and all they want to do is pass you.

  6. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    You can never have too many cars, too many boats or too much money. It’s just hard to have all three.

  7. Tuobanur
    Tuobanur says:

    I’m just happy to have both and over the years I have had a lot of cars also and have never made a dime on any either.

    • Rabbit
      Rabbit says:

      Oh man, Matt. You had some lust worthy cars. As a fellow ad man I spent eighteen years of my career making ads for those cars, most of it for Porsche and BMW, but I never owned a vintage one. (But I sure wish I still had a few of the new ones.) Then three summers ago my son Will won a year’s membership in a vintage car club where you could take home a different classic car every weekend. Alfas, Porsche’s, muscle cars, Land Rovers, Benz pagoda SL: We drove a different one up to the cabin every weekend. And as much fun as that was I couldn’t wait to get back in my modern 3 Series when I returned that week’s classic on Sunday night. The truth is that those classics were slow as mollases compared to a modem sports sedan (even the big block muscle cars), they had crappy brakes, and on and on. Yet when I got into my little Gar Wood Ensign when I arrived at the cabin I never felt that way. I love being in a vintage boat in a way I never feel in a vintage car. They feel better than new boats. Way better.

      One more thing: Luftgekult is coming to the East Coast this year. It’s the best car show ever: A jaw-dropping collection of air-cooled Porsches displayed at a stunning setting (last year’s was at the backlot of Universal Studios) with no judging. It will make you long for those 356’s, Carreras and even 914’s. Don’t go! Actually, do go: It will blow your mind.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        Rabbit, I had a similar experience. I lusted after a vintage 911 from my pre-teen years all the way up until I drove one!

      • MikeM
        MikeM says:

        Well Said Rabbit. Everytime I see an old pick up I say “I’ve got to get one”…then I walk up to it, look inside and say, “Naahh. I like my heated seats and power everything” Looking is free, so I can say I haven’t lost any money on an old car, yet.

    • Kelly Wittenauer
      Kelly Wittenauer says:

      Nice rig, Tuobanur. First thought when I saw that Ford wagon pic in Matt’s story was how sweet that would look in front of a woody boat.

      • Tuobanur
        Tuobanur says:

        Thanks, from the time I started restoring my boat I had visions of just the right hot rod pulling it, it took some time but the plan has finally come together. 😊

  8. Jim Guidry
    Jim Guidry says:

    Not just woodies… I have a 1970 Donzi 18 2+3, completely original with it’s original Holman-Moody 351 and matching numbers HM-badged Volvo outdrive. I even have the build card from the factory, showing all the serial numbers. It has won numerous times at Keels and Wheels here in Texas. I work hard at keeping it as unrestored as possible. Value… doodly squat! It is not for sale, but if it were wrapped in a rusty Mustang body it would be worth a mint! I don’t let it bother me much…I just enjoy my old Donzi!

  9. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    I am a lucky guy that can do all the stuff, wood, metal, cars and boats…somewhere way back when I got to prefer the sawdust to the grease. Ditched the cars…when for old buildings and old boats. Like Matt I can promise I never made and $ on cars or boats…but would not trade the experience and fun for anything.
    Even today I search Model A Fords, like Matt does the Porsches but knowing the pleasure vs. pitfalls stuff….I just Go Boating!
    that…and there is no, read ZERO, market future for Model A’s.
    John in Va.

  10. Berlin Büro
    Berlin Büro says:

    You failed to write about how your boating phase and car phases switched conveniently when I got my driver’s license.

  11. Tim Robinson
    Tim Robinson says:


    Thanks for the pic. Of Evangeline and Apache 2. I love the shot and have it hanging in my office. I believe Lee Anderson has his copy somewhere on his incredible estate. I too have dabbled in the Porsche market and have made a few bucks. However I once sold a 356/ supper 90 for $2,000, makes my head hurt to think about it. My favorite is my 57 Chev. Restored it over 25 years ago and drive it every week.

  12. Dad
    Dad says:

    325 convertable, that sucker was going to bleed us dry. 3500 bucks to fix the dam top. More than the car cost

  13. Dad
    Dad says:

    I think there were also a couple Grand Wagoneers, this is a horrible vein to start remembering, a Volvo Turbo R wagon in Safron Orange FAST AS HELL , the first Audi TT in the state. Got a deal with the factory. Photo car

  14. Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida 🌴)
    Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida 🌴) says:

    I don’t think classic boats as a whole will be as valuable as classic cars. You just don’t have the audience. To me both are fun. I used to make money on cars. I would buy an old one, run it through the Ohio winter fix it up and sell it in spring. I never paid over 1000 dollars for any of them. When I got into restoring cars I got out of it. I wish I still had my49 Mercury, my 50 Willy’s Jeep, and I wish that I had not totaled my 65 VW bus. I did see the bus on America Pickers one night. It still lives in an Indiana VW collection. I still have my 69 Mach I Mustang! Couldn’t keep all my cars, but I’m keeping all my boats.

  15. Briant
    Briant says:

    I would just have to disagree with the statement that old cars don’t bring joy to a heart. I love zooming around in our boat at every chance…but I also love to motor about in my 65 MG at every chance…and at 182,000 miles, she is still going strong.

  16. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Nothing burns $$$$ faster than racing! But damn it’s fun. Boats though, are relaxation – total opposite of the frantic pace of a race weekend.

      • Kelly Wittenauer
        Kelly Wittenauer says:

        1968 Unipower GT. Slightly smaller than a Lotus Europa, it uses a classic Mini drivetrain in a mid-engine RWD config. Mini brake & suspension bits are used on a square tube space frame with bonded fiberglass body. A total of 72 were made. Ours is one of only 5 factory built to full competition spec.

  17. matt
    matt says:

    mmm looking back, I may have been better off having a drug problem. Certainly would have saved some money 1965 K Code fast back. Not a GT, which made it even cooler. Very early fastback. White pony interior. Caspian Blue I think? Richmond VA

  18. tparsons56
    tparsons56 says:

    Right out of college I got a used 1974 MG Midget. It was good training for classic boats as something was always broken [Lucas wiring!!!, twin carbs that were never in sync, etc.] Loved that car but was sure I would never survive an accident.

    Made a little money on it by selling to another young guy in the middle of the summer.

  19. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    I agree with troy that wood boats generally wont see anything like price increases in certain classic cars. the main exception has been the so-called “lifestyle accessory” boats docked out front of waterfront mansions, mainly in places like lake tahoe. for a while it was the big pre-war triples, but i think more recently this has shifted to the riva aquarama and perhaps the ariston, and a few unusual models like the cobra. owning a wood boat is not generally a way to make any money.

  20. John Klockau
    John Klockau says:

    Matt, I had a 1960 356-B Roadster, 1965 356-C Coupe, 1968 912 Targa, 1951 Pre-A Cabriolet but I kept another 1960 Roadster. The Pre-A cabriolets are approaching a million in value and I sold mine in 1985 for $20,000. However, I’m sure you know what my 1960 Roadster is worth. I bought it in 1985 for $3,500 and spent another $20,000 restoring it over eight years by a good friend. Oh well, at least I did something right!

  21. Floyd r turbo
    Floyd r turbo says:

    Even after owning’57 Chevys, ‘66 Olds 442, ‘64 GTO tri-power, ‘65 VW camper, Jeeps, Alfa Veloce’s, Alfa Spiders, lots of vans, nothing excites me more than driving this ‘94 BMW 530 engine swapped to 4.4 liter w/4 liter heads and 6 speed stick that my son built for me. And it’s probably worthless to most people. Hopefully, our boat’s values will at least remain stable. They’ll lose value in the People’s Republic of California when they ban carbon based motors.

  22. warren
    warren says:

    Model A I had about $9,500 and traded for a 34 Dodge that got $11,500 when totaled.
    SK boat had $9,500 in restoration sold for $1,300 with a blown engine.
    Right now I have about $35,000 in my sailboat, needs a $9,5000 engine and is worth about $13-14,000 when done

    Oh well, If I don’t spend and enjoy what we’ve earned, the kids will

  23. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    “66 MGB-GT, ’69 TR-6, ’68 Volvo 142E, ’72 Renault Gordini, ’78 BMW 320i, ’64 Morgan Plus 4, ’64 Volvo 544, ’59 TR-3, ’84 Toyota Corrolla Fastback, ’75 BMW 2002, ’58 Chev Fleetside Heavy Half, ’78 Jaguar XJ6L – Then a bunch of boring company cars… Did OK on the cars until the Jag oil pump drive gear sheared. That repair took away the little bit of profit I had enjoyed through the years with the cars. At the same time my classic boat hobby took root with the first Red & White, “Tango” plus an additional dozen or so boats through the years. I still have the Morgan and it is going to be front and center in the shop next year. It’s all the same sickness – it’s the fun, memories made and people encountered along the way that make it all worthwhile – just don’t focus on the $$… 🙂

  24. Dave Nau
    Dave Nau says:

    Funny for you to bring up cars. Just bought my first old Mustang. Had to go with a 1971-1973 (a 1973 in this case) since I’m just too big and tall to fit easily in a 1965-1970 model. Wanted to pull a boat but the owners manual says it has an 800 pound tow limit. Drat.

  25. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    I have many miles on Jaguar E-Types and never got stuck. After more than 30 years, I still smile when I look at them or drive them. Same with my boat even though it is still in project stage.
    This is my current driving E, the rest are projects.

  26. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    And lets not forget airplanes, another dreaded disease. But the good part is you get to store lots of other goodies in the hangar.

  27. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Let’s not forget the two wheelers. My 1969 BMW R60US in my shop for some R&R over the winter. I bought the bike when it was two years old. May be for sale this summer.

  28. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    If you break it down, the thing that makes an object valuable to collectors, whether it be a car, boat, piece of art, etc., is it’s ability to inspire. Crazy what some people with money are willing to pay for a little inspiration, considering it comes free. The fleeting nature of it all is what makes us want to hold on, or own an object like that. Stragely, it doesn’t really work that way.
    Matt, you are lucky that you have known the pleasure of being inspired so many times, by so many things. Consider that cost and worth are two different things, and though cost has risen dramatically in some cases, worth has not changed a bit.
    Go with what inspires, always. To hell with cost.

  29. Dick Hansen
    Dick Hansen says:

    Matt, as a former owner of a 73 Dino I would take issue with your assessment of it being a “real pile of crap”. For one thing, it is undeniably one of the most beautiful cars ever built, and is why they have drawn buyers in the 300k – 400k range! Additionally, the mid-engined Dino handled better than the rear-engined Porsches. Ferrari is hand-made, designed by Italians! Porsches are mass-produced, and, well, designed by Germans!!!

    • matt
      matt says:

      Thanks Dick, I do agree they are beutiful cars. My recolection was from the mid 80’s when all the Dinos were large Fiats in my mind. They are insane of course. I did not have the funds to buy a perfect one, but I could dive into Porsches. For the record, I kinda in the end thought they all had issues. I used them. Bigtime. And boy I paid the price. Jags, MG’s even vintage Mercedes are the same. OUCH. Never again

  30. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Seeing all these pictures makes me wonder where my stolen 1970 Olds convertible went. Had it since 1971 until this year. Hope “they” ae taking care of it they didn’t decide to part it out.

  31. Briant
    Briant says:

    Ok that’s it. If I read or hear one more dude claim that MGs suck because of “Lucas” wiring or that the dual carbs can never be balanced and set correctly, I am gonna blow a gasket.

    Clean and Rebuild the carbs. Install. Take 15 minutes to balance them. Done. AND don’t fiddle with them. Leave them alone. They will then give you years of simple, trouble free motoring.

    Don’t jury rig the wiring. Leave it stock. Buy original parts. Don’t try to substitute American car parts from Auto Zone or whomever. I have done over 75,000 miles in the last 13 years in my 65 MGB. And NEVER once have I been let down and stranded.

    • tparsons56
      tparsons56 says:

      Brian – I’m sure you are correct but as a young man with limited funds and no experience with English cars there was definitely a large learning curve. As I said it was a great experience that 40 years later has helped me with working on classic boats.

      I still love that car!

    • Dick Dow
      Dick Dow says:

      There is a reason the English drink warm beer – Lucas refrigerators! Oh, Lucas was knighted – “Prince of Darkness”… 😉 I have had great luck with the British cars I have owned and agree with Brian. I still keep an eye open for a great B-GT to add back into my garage.

  32. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Ok you guys hit a nerve. Confession time: I once sold a 1930 Model A to buy a Corvair. I sold a 1962 solid daily driver Mercedes 190 SL (with both tops..big window hardtop) for 3K in small bills …..car is still around …..over 100K now for sure.
    I had a 49 Willis Jeepster would not go over 45 geared so low. Tore the rear end out…..heard I could replace it with one from a Henry J (another Kaiser product)….did so…..could not get going in first gear from a standing start but the Jeepster would then go 80! Live and learn…oh…what did that tag on the differential case mean??? ratio what?
    Driving Corvair: broke the rear engine suspension bolts and dragged the oil pan off. Had a rear wheel and its axel pass me at a stoplight…stuffed sox into the heater vent to stay alive……all this was in Richmond Va….where thank god I was too old to run into Matt back in the day here.

  33. Matt
    Matt says:

    HA! I had fun with this one. Sad that I cant find more photos. The record for comments I think is around 200. I think, I know its more than 150. The sign in and spam filters slowed it all down but made my life better since all I was doing all day was rejecting viagra ads.

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