Cadillac Vs Lincoln, Century Vs Chris Craft, Fin’s Vs Rocket.

Oh yeah! I can kick your…

HAHAHAH! Bring it on Lincoln man!

A huge shout out to Dane Anderson’s eye and his amazing camera and Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service who just did us a service and gave us a very cool timeless story. Two boats almost identical, on a side by side comparison. Who’s the winner. You will just have to read on!

That was always the question when I was a little kid, which one is better, Cadillac or Lincoln? If we extend that to our vintage boat world and ask: Chris-Craft or Century?

Side by side

What if we could ask and answer both those questions by comparing just two boats, real world, head to head?

Dave’s 1961 Century Century Coronado

We got just that opportunity at the recent Whitefish Vintage Boat Show here in Minnesota. Having recently sold “Over the Top”, one of the best 1961 21’ Chris-Craft Continentals in the country, to Daryl and Shelly Konrad here on Lake Minnetonka, and knowing they wanted to show it up at Whitefish, we pulled our 1961 Century Coronado out of the barn to show there, too.

All we needed was Dane Anderson to take some photos for us. He was more than happy to oblige, and pulled his Spitfire out of the barn to use as the photo boat, also winning “best fiberglass” at the show, while he was at it!

First, let’s get the mechanicals out of the way: Chris-Craft: 430 ci Lincoln V-8, single four barrel, rated at 275 hp, original engine to the boat.

Century: 390 ci Cadillac V-8, two four barrels, originally rated at 325 hp, original engine to the boat.

Stunning profile

Which one is faster? Not a fair fight, as we’ve been tweaking the Cadillac for several years, and it might not be exactly stock. The Lincoln is new to Daryl, and to us, so we’re still getting that right. Maybe we’ll do a rematch once we have the Lincoln properly tweaked. What I can say is the Cadillac sounds a lot faster once the two four barrels open up!

So how do the boats compare? Well, they’re both 21’ boats, so you’d expect them to be about the same size, right? When we got the catalogs and the tape measure out, we were amazed at how close they are! Since the Coronado was “there first” in the market, we have to posit the Continental was a full-on direct assault on the Coronado!

By the numbers:
Continental                      Coronado

Length       21’ 8”               21’

Beam        7’ 6 ½”              7’ 8”

Forward    35”                    31 ½”

Aft             27”                    21”

Draft         22”                    21”

Weight     3500# max       2010# hull only

The Continental almost exactly matches the Coronado, or bests it slightly in each category. Weights would be almost the same, too, once you add in the weight of the hardtop and the engine in the Coronado!

Once we take the tape measure inside the boats, the plot really thickens!

Continental                                Coronado

Forward cockpit:

Legroom       20”                         18”

Seat height   14”                         16”

Seat width     5’ 5”                       5’ 10”

Second Seat:

Legroom        8”                           10”

Seat Height   12”                          14”

Seat Width     4’ 4”                        4’ 4”

Third Seat:

Legroom        12”                           10”

Seat Height    14”                            9”

Seat width       6’                             5’ 5”

Engine Box     32” X 36”                 47” X 36”

Chris Craft

Every major measurement is very competitive between the two boats; the Continental usually comes out ahead. To beat the Coronado in ride comfort, each of the three seats in the Continetal are sprung, while you’re sitting on cushions in the Coronado.
Both boats feature similar, worm and pinion gear steering, but the Chris- Craft shifts and throttles up with one lever. The Coronado has a column mounted shift lever, with (Standard) Vernier throttle in the dash or (optional) foot pedal.


From a styling standpoint, both boats feature mid-century, rocket-inspired design. The Chris-Craft sports fiberglass fins, a fiberglass gull-wing hardtop, and turquoise, gold and prismatic charcoal vinyls.

Chris Craft interior

The Century has a gull-wing hardtop, too, but it’s upholstered over brass tubing. Red and patterned white vinyls are used, with a patterned silver material on the dash.

Century Interior

It’s clear Chris-Craft had guns loaded for Century in 1961, but we’re the beneficiaries, 55+ years on, as we get to experience two of the coolest sport boats on the planet! Yep, they’re almost identical dimensionally, and each has its advantages. Which one wins? It depends whether you’re a Century or Chris-Craft man….. or Cadillac or Lincoln!

Lets go for a ride!

I turn right. Do you?

I can also haul ass!

So do I. Just in the other direction!

Oooffff. I have breaks?

Well, thanks again Dave and Dane, what a fun story and it sure looks like the winner was you guys!


28 replies
  1. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Great story today! Thanks Dane and Dave. I love the look of both these boats and of course being a Century guy I’m going to go naturally be drawn to the Coronado. But! For me the Chris Craft interior is stunning and sexier than the Century. The Century jet painted on the hull sides is super cool and I love the swoop design linking into the hardtop. However the Cadillac engine must surely have more brand appeal than the Lincoln? It does for me anyway. The fins on the rear of the CC are super cool but then the jet nacelle nose on the Coronado is super cool too. Arrrgh stuff it, I’d be very happy to own either or both.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Chris-Craft wins the interior hands down.

    Power plant goes to Century with little contest.

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Chris-Craft wins the interior hands down.

    Power plant goes to Century with little contest.

  4. Dave Bortner
    Dave Bortner says:

    Photo boat in action: Dane in his Spitfire, which also won “Best Fiberglass” at the Whitefish Show.

  5. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    What a pair of BEAUTIFUL boats!

    I lean toward Chris-Crafts but really appreciate the Centurys. I do like the Cadillac engine also, but I have always been more of a GM guy than a Ford guy (accept for trucks).

    I always thought that the ’61 Continental was the natural progression from the ’57 -’59 finned Continental. I never thought that CC was chasing Century. I almost wonder if Century knew of the changes coming and just got into the market first to compete with CC.

  6. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I agree with Troy. The 61 Continental was an update of a hull they had been building for years, with new styling and interior that matched across the entire 61 utility line. If I am not mistaken, that was the change of ownership year which may have been a factor in all the redesign work as well.

  7. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Great comparison..Wish I’d have had it when I was doing the Brass Bell. It would have made a great story…In fact it still would.

  8. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    Ride a Thoroughbred, the fastest boat on the lake. African Mahogany, plank on frame carvel construction with oak framing and fir stringers. Cadillac, top of the line. Chrome, lots of chrome. The Mahogany stern pole, chromed boarding ladder to the jet engine chrome air scoop on the bow finishing the massive chrome cut water. End to end, the fastest, most expensive speed boat of its day. Others settled for less, the discriminating boater Rides a Thoroughbred.

  9. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    Btw, the MSRP of a century Coronado in 1961 would be $9,000 with Cadillac, hard top and common options. Designed by Richard Arbib , union built in Manistee, Michigan.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      $73,000 today will get you an under-powered and completely soulless pontoon. I would rather have a new 1961 Century. Or if we are dreaming, the Chris-Craft without the top and with the Cadillac power plant.

  10. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    Put the Cadillac motor in the Continental, and what you have is perfection! The idea of a FoMoCo power plant in a Chris Craft somehow feels wrong to me, but seems right for the Century. Flip the motors and all is good.

  11. Brian Robinson
    Brian Robinson says:

    We will have four 1961 21′ Continentals side by side at the Tahoe Concours next month. 32 Marque Class Utilities. Sorry, no Coronados.

  12. Dane
    Dane says:

    When did production begin for this version of the Continental? Would any of these be considered 1960 models?

    • Brian Robinson
      Brian Robinson says:

      Good question, Dane. The rendering was in the 1960 catalog but I don’t know of anyone doing the hull card research before the Museum shut down. We will have to investigate when they reopen. I suspect that the hardtop was standard on these as well, but will have to wait to confirm.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        The catalog listed the Continental hard top as “optional” but I have no idea if any left the factory without one or not.

      • Troy in ANE
        Troy in ANE says:

        The “Bible” (2nd ed.) indicates 1961 only and there is a Special note that reads “Hull cards do not indicate total number of boats with the optional Landau top.”

        • Dane
          Dane says:

          Both the Speltz and Rodengen books include this photo credited to the Mariner’s Museum showing the 1960 Continental.

  13. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    I have both of these boats and I prefer the coronado with the 413 chrysler. Just my 2cents.

  14. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    So many little details in that Continental. Had the opportunity to get close up and personal. It was like having access to Scarlett Johansson. Maybe a “restored” Jacqueline Bisset would be a better analogy (remember her from the movie “The Deep”)?

  15. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Notice how the circle theme in the strut is repeated in the windshield support bracket above the instrument panel.

  16. Chris B
    Chris B says:

    Oh I am so conflicted I have fords and a Century. But I love the use of wood and metal on the Chris. What faster I don’t emagine that the speeds a much different. It’s has stoped raining for 2 days wow it’s fun time to go boating. Ok maybe too much sun today.

  17. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    Are you kidding me?! The Century is obviously the most coolest LOOKING boat. Hate the CC roof supports. The classy curvy lines of the Century is over the top cool!

  18. john tyler
    john tyler says:

    Two great boats from a time when mahogany was king. Although very similar there are significant difference in how each would be viewed by a potential customer in 1961. The Coronado would appeal to a water sport minded individual. The higher power , optional ski tow , and permanent boarding ladder all designate the Coronado as a luxury ski boat. The Chris was more of a luxury cruising boat and although offered they were not integrated in the design. The advertised speed of the Chris at 42 was 8 MPH slower than the Coronado. It is unfair me to compare as I previously chose the Coronado over the Chris

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