The Big Boys Are In Lake Tahoe (Literally) This Weekend For The 41st Concours d’ Elegance

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BIG BOY – 1937 28′ Gar Wood 746 316-hp, 12-cyl. Scripps 302 engine – Owners Stephen & Janice Hamill, Alamo, Calif. Big Boy, formerly named America, is a triple cockpit custom runabout, hull #5925, and the only Model 746 ever built. Built by the Gar Wood Boat Division at Marysville, Mich., The boat was shipped on June 8, 1937, to the Wisconsin Transportation Company, Lake Geneva, and initially purchased by J.E. McAuley for $7,720!

Fellow Woody Boater and full time Bay Area Photojournalist Steve Natale arrived at the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance in style today, on board “THUNDERBIRD” and sent us these great iPhone photos live from the docks at the Sierra Boat Company Marina. And as expected, the best of the best as far as antique & classic wooden boats are polished up and on display for the thousands of spectators (and Judges) this weekend.

Here are a few great examples thanks to Steve.

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SHOOTING STAR – 1937 28′ Hacker-Craft Runabout 316-hp, 12-cyl. Scripps 302 engine – Owners Tom & Polly Bredt, Portola Valley, Calif. Shooting Star is a one-of-a-kind design built as a special order for a Seattle owner. Due to World War II, the deal fell through and the boat remained in storage at the factory in Mount Clemens, Mich. In 1946, Fred Main, from Tahoe Boat Company, found the boat on a trip to Michigan along with a new WWII-era Scripps engine still in its crate. Fred bought the boat and engine and had both shipped to Lake Tahoe.

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H-2 – 1940 9’ Jacoby Class A Hydroplane 12-hp, 2-cyl. Johnson KR engine – Owner J. Craig Venter, La Jolla, CA. This Jacoby is a truly significant piece of racing history. She was owned and raced by Paul Wearly, a very notable outboard racer of the 1930s–1950s. This particular boat was his 1940 A-class hy-droplane APBA National record setter. The boat was found in a basement in Upstate, N.Y., several years ago and was lovingly restored to museum quality.

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MERGANSER – 1936 36′ Stephens Motor Yacht 110-hp, 4-cyl. Yanmar engines – Owners William & Susan Parker, El Dorado Hills, CA. Step back in time in this fine example of the craftsmanship that made Stephens the premiere builder of its time. Originally owned by Dr. Herbert Samuel Chapman, this vessel has had great care with her current owner restoring her to her current splendor.

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TOP DUCK – 1935 22′ Gar Wood 22-40 Runabout 169-hp, 6-cyl. Scripps 152 engine – Owners Bill & Nancy Kehoe, Loomis, Calif. Top Duck was manufactured in Marysville, Mich., one of only a few 22-foot runabouts that came from the factory with a Scripps engine. She was originally shipped to St. Louis, Mo. After years of use and then neglect, left sitting in a field, she was a grey boat, completely unseaworthy. She eventually found her way to Southern California when the Kehoes learned of the Gar Wood being for sale and brought her home to begin a total restoration.

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THUNDERBIRD – 1939 55′ Huskins Boat Works Hacker-Craft 1100-hp ea., twin 12-cyl. Allison V-1710 engines – Thunderbird Preservation Society, Bill Watson, Curator and Chief Executive, Reno, Nev. Based on the streamlined designs of John Hacker, Thunderbird is a commuter boat featuring a distinctive stainless-steel cabin top that was built for millionaire George Whittell who was fascinated with the late aircraft, automobile and boat technology.
Enamored with the lines of his personal DC-2 airplane, Whittell requested the boat’s hull and cockpit be built to resemble the fuselage of his twin-engine aircraft. He also specified the boat’s fit and finish, from double-planked Honduran mahogany to gleaming crystal accents.

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A shot from Thunderbird as Steve cruises over to Carnelian Bay and the Sierra Boat Company Marina for the Concours.

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REDHAWK – 1929 24′ Chris-Craft Model 3 Runabout 425-hp, 8-cyl. GM engine – Lew & Debra Dobbins, Nevada City, Calif. Redhawk, hull #2329, left the Algonac, Mich., plant on July 3, 1929, headed for Chicago and use by the U.S. Government. She was a special order that included a Studebaker Marine engine (instead of the usual 106-hp Chrysler) and the name, Gladys B, painted on her hull sides. Speculation is that she was “under cover” and used as a rum runner chaser.

After Steve learned that “REDHAWK” was once a rum runner chaser, for some reason he became thirsty, so he decided to make his way over to Gar Wood’s Restaurant for a well deserved break from the show and enjoy one of their World Famous WET WOODY’s.

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A tall WET WOODY at Gar Wood’s Restaurant, next door to Sierra Boat Co, is a popular and potent drink during boat show week, and year round…

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A gaggle of always elegant Italian built Riva speed boats, as good as it gets…

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THE GRAND CRU – 1930 24′ Chris-Craft 103 Runabout 175-hp, 6-cyl. Chris-Craft MCL engine – Owned by John & Cathy Stannard, Los Gatos, Calif. The Grand Cru was originally delivered to Ray Brewster of New York on May 19, 1930. She was a ride boat on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and after many years was retired. Howard Peck found the boat in a barn and restored it in 2001.

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HIJACKER – 1929 28′ Chris-Craft 14 Runabout 225-hp, 8-cyl. Chris-Craft A-70 engine – James & Sondra Wright, McMinnville, Ore. Originally shipped from Chris-Craft in Algonac, Mich., to Camden, Maine on June 29, 1929, hull #3042 is a stock model 14 “open” runabout, and was one of five that year to feature the special blue Russialoid interior. Original cost was $4,975.
It carries the extremely rare Chris-Craft 825 cubic inch A-70 V-8 engine, the original “bigblock” V-8. Less than a dozen of these are in running condition today.

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Hey, how did this photo get in here! Oh Ya, Steve Natale also writes a column on classic cars and aviation for the Examiner…

Special thanks to Steve Natale for taking the time to shoot us a few photos from the big show today, and stay tuned for more updates from the 41st Annual Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance here on Woody Boater. A full list of winners will be published as soon as its released.


6 replies
  1. cobourg-kid
    cobourg-kid says:

    Hey Steve exceptional in depth coverage and nice photography. How the heck did you get so much info on each boat so fast?. The ACBS hull info cards used at boat shows in the east are usually devoid of anything but rudimentary specs, certainly very few stories and most owners don’t bother to provide there own “story board”. BTW I envy your skills on the I Phone, trying to do meaningful live-ish reports is hard work and a total pain.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      CK – I cut and pasted some information on each boat from the Lake Tahoe Concours electronic program. Took the easy way with deadlines looming to get the story published Live-ish…

  2. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Congrats to mike green and Jim wright for “cleaning up” at the show. Two first places, best engine, most elegant,best chris craft etc, etc…..great boats. Great guys. Great show.

      • Dennis Mykols
        Dennis Mykols says:

        Yea, Congrats to Mike Green, Member of the Water Wonderland Chapter and all around great host at his shop, when he held a symposium a while back.

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