Barn Find Of The Summer – All Original 1954 Sportsman
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I second that!
Maybe we need more younger judges.
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.
1960 model is a completely different hull design. Chris Craft went to the wrap around windshields in 1956.
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!
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.
I have one of those rubber roller bearing kits thats NOS. They are pretty cool replacement for the standard cutless bearing in the strut.
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.
Standard gauges on these are ammeter,tach and oil pressure. Looks like added ones are temp and gas.
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.
Oops here is a picture
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.
How about more pics of this one? She’s a beauty.
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.
All the wood is in great shape and straight!
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.
Can I contact you through your email ? I will send some more info I have of my purchase.
Yessir, thank you. firstname.lastname@example.org
Looks to be all original and correct (including the green bilge paint). I’ve owned #2019 for about 30 years and while I did a restoration on it in 1990, it was a very original boat to start. Happy to answer any questions.
Could I get your email
Sent you an email to the one you have listed on ACBS.
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.
If these engine wedges are painted to match the bilge color from the factory then are mine supposed to be varnished???
HGi Josh we did a story on the topic
You could get that thermostat housing out of the Chris Craft parts catalog. It was probably dealer installed if not at the factory.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Green bilge paint was correct!
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!!
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.