Barn Find Of The Summer – All Original 1954 Sportsman

It may look ratty to some, but to us. it’s PERFECT! Flawless, and just flaking with originalious

Is this the barn find of the summer? It sure is in our books. My god, look at this thing. It’s got it all. No literally it’s got it all. Every possible option that you could order. Was it a show boat for a dealer to show all the goodies? We asked Patti at the Mariners Museum for a Hull card and bing bam boom. There are all the options. GA-FAW!

Delivered to Deep Creek lake in 1954

Now of course its already at the right place for these models. Katz’s Marina is the place on the planet for these mid fifties Sportsman and Rockets. This is a personal favorite of Seth’s. The hulls are a Higgins design and ride like Butta.

Search light, the older style windshield makes these look great here at Katzs

Extra gauges. The dark spot was an aftermarket speedo. Delux Stering wheel – I see Scarlet is almost ready!

Blue Carbs! Yes this is confirmed as original. How cool is this. BLUE! That is some add on thermostat assembly. I think that is even original bird poop!

This is new to me. Not sure if was just on KBL triple carb set ups. Never seen it before, but is correct. Game changer at shows? YOU BET! But it may just be certain years. So hold off on painting til we get a call on the play here.

It did have some add on trim tabs. Gee I wonder why? All that power ! 130HP

Naugahide red interior. And get this. Look at the engine box. PAINTED WHITE! Original. Not painted over brite work. Matches the bilge. Looks like the little scoop for the carbs was also upostered. Cool

Original Decal. Is this even the original finish. CRAZY!

GAME CHANGER- Judges! Extra Fuses taped onto the wires? This could give you an extra something something when the points are close. White bilge area

That’s alotta horn action

Windshield Wiper! HA! Love it.

Original Wiring! Right now there is a guy restoring his sportsman’s wiring and saying. OH CRAP. What are those yellow stickers, fuse what. Head expload.

The American Bosch Windshield wiper motor

Amp Gauge. You dont see that often on these models.

Note the bilge colored Engine Mount Wedges.

Something to think about regarding this boat. This not just a special boat because of its originality. Which it is for sure. But its so far from being left alone, it would die. So it will need to be preserved, as in restored. Of course Katz’s will do an amazing job. But here is the real point. If you are the type of person that wants the best of the best, a clear show stopper. This is the boat. We all know it will be perfectly done. But with ALL these options, its special. Very special, and Judges like this sort of stuff. Or the opposite, plain Jane simple.  You don’t see this stuff every day. And points are deducted for extra stuff not delivered from the factory, this has it ALL. So in a knock down drag out 99 pt vs 99 pt boat. One simple, one like this. Well, aside from politics, this would pull best in show at any show. It’s also a great boat, and very trailer-able. So if your thinking of getting into the shows, this is the way to go.

Just not this trailer. YIKES! Came with the boat though. Cool bunk thingamajig thing.

35 replies
  1. ScottK
    ScottK says:

    Weren’t we just talking about how much more fun and relaxing non-judges shows are??

    This boat should be treated like the original class a major automotive concour. Extra accolades and atta-boys for NOT restoring it. Put it in a plastic bubble, preserve it for posterity, and find a different boat to go boating…..there are plenty of boats out there that are not being used.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    This story is a perfect example of why judged shows are keeping young people out of the hobby. Young people are not interested in arguing with a judge about which carbs were painted and what the proper color is for a 1956 engine wedge or wiper motor wire label. Since we all know the hobby needs more young people, I think shows need to focus more on going boating like John in VA will be doing today.

  3. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    My first boat was a ’60 17 Sportsman and the only time it rode like butta was early in the morning or late in the evening when everyone else was off the water During the day we were looking for a smooth cove or go to the upper end of the lake to get away from the mass. This is still a cool boat, never seen a ’17 with the windshield wiper or that style windshield, assuming it is necessary for the wiper.

    • jim g
      jim g says:

      1960 model is a completely different hull design. Chris Craft went to the wrap around windshields in 1956.

  4. Phil W
    Phil W says:

    As a new, but, sorry, older woody boater, I third that comment. I restored my 1948 Resorter to be used and handed down to my kids in future years. It is appearance correct to the year with a Gray Marine motor, but functionally up to date with all the USCG precautions for systems and such. I built it to run it. It will be interesting to see how the judging process works later this summer at Boats on the Boardwalk. Great site Matt!

  5. jim g
    jim g says:

    That one is the earlier short deck version. The later long deck version’s are nicer looking especially when your sitting in them. The dash doesn’t look a mile away from you.

  6. jim g
    jim g says:

    I have one of those rubber roller bearing kits thats NOS. They are pretty cool replacement for the standard cutless bearing in the strut.

  7. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    I have three points to make….
    1) while I appreciate your excitement I don’t see a mid ‘50’s utility being best of show anywhere. Best in class, sure but best of show means going up against the best in all the other classes. A 20’ Custom or any triple would edge it out just based on complexity.
    2) this hobby needs more young people finding boats in barns.
    3) go boating.

  8. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    Standard gauges on these are ammeter,tach and oil pressure. Looks like added ones are temp and gas.

  9. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but I just pulled this boat out after sitting since 1941. Everything is original, including the shipping cradle. It will be at clayton. I intend on doing nothing to it except clean it.

    • Bilgerat
      Bilgerat says:

      My first wood boat for restoration was 1955 17 foot Special Sportsman. Fun boat and with a KLC it got up on plane fast. Similar to Ronald’s comment it wasn’t the best on a choppy day but still a lot of fun.

  10. D. Thomas Engel
    D. Thomas Engel says:

    How about a 1956 17′ Sportsman that has been in the same boat house since it was delivered. Story is that when I put it on my trailer to take it home was its second time on a trailer. I looked at this boat a few years ago and thought it was sold. Saw a similar ad on Craig’s two months ago and made the deal. All original with a KLC.

    • Jeremy R
      Jeremy R says:

      D. Thomas Engel, any more pics you could share? Interior, floor, engine? I also have a ’56 17′ Sportsman (near original). Great user boat that I want to keep as original looking a possible. Her name is Julie Sue. I’m on the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club site.

  11. Briant
    Briant says:

    Ho boy….that trailer pic….

    That ain’t a trailer….it is most likely a carriage from Egypt’s Third Dynasty period (c. 2670-2613 BCE)!!

    And not to be a downer, and yes I fully understand that it is great for wonderful people like Katz and Mike M, folks that bring back the beauty….but it never ceases to amaze me that folks will lay down hard earned money for something and then treat it like crap…like this special boat here. Once a beautiful boat and now a neglected barn find.

    If I were king, you’d have to take darn good care of the stuff you buy….cars, houses, boats etc….and if you didn’t, then the State would find someone who will.

    This boat should never have been allowed to be reduced to the condition that it is in now. Just tragic.

  12. Josh
    Josh says:

    If these engine wedges are painted to match the bilge color from the factory then are mine supposed to be varnished???

  13. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    You could get that thermostat housing out of the Chris Craft parts catalog. It was probably dealer installed if not at the factory.

  14. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    I don’t know why, but I love looking at all original unrestored boats more than I like the perfectly restored. Kinda to bad to doll her all up. Their only original once.

  15. don danenberg
    don danenberg says:

    so, wait…,
    Are you proposing that ALL Chris-Crafts were built and detailed exactly the same as this Cadillac-built utility, in mid-fifties, from this plant, should advise judges on how ALL Chris-Crafts were built and wired, and bilge-painted, and detailed?

    Looks like a great deal of originality here, Factory or Dealer, but it’s all about learning the optional things that happened?

    • Johnny V.
      Johnny V. says:

      Pics of original boat are good to improve the knowledge base because they DO show the variations in the different series of boats. The Special Sportsman/Sportsman/Rocket series varies from most postwar boats as they used bilge paint colors other than the traditional Chris Craft dark red and had factory plywood inner bottoms.

  16. Pete
    Pete says:

    Here is a photo of my 1955 17′ Sportsman. It was hull #850. It was original with KLC original power. I named it Half Boat for a good reason.

  17. Kent V
    Kent V says:

    Years ago, my Dad, best engine tuner I ever knew was in the back of a sportsman just like this one sinking the triple down carbs. Dad gave the owner the thumbs up and he put the hammer down. Launched my Dad right out the back of the boat!!

  18. George Emmanuel
    George Emmanuel says:

    Why is there so much concern about judging? Without judging and some sort of goal to achieve, people will do all sorts of modifications to wonderful classics. At some point, w/out judging guidelines, what was original will be forgotten. In AOMCI (Antique Outboard Motor Club Inc.) we are starting to see high praise for some wild color/polished restorations. They are not correct. From what I’ve seen, restorations done correctly have been able to justify their sale price and sell well.

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