Did AMF Kill Fun? Or Create Our Passion?


It’s a love hate thing!

Wow, last weeks story sure brought out the daggers on AMF. All our memories about how this huge company kinda drained some iconic brands in the pleasure fun industry. It got me thinking. Fun stuff, like snow mobiles, Sunfish Sailboats, Golf Carts and even Harley’s, are fun to use in your spare time. And if that thing is a pile of crap. You stop using it, and loose interest.

So is it possible that the darkness of the 1980’s in boats, and other stuff has AMF to blame? Many brands went this way BTW, so it’s not just AMF. But at some point did passion get replaced by spread sheets? GM, AMF, and many companies just crapped the bed with product horror stories.

Ya. How much did these models sweat in these under the photo lights.

Here is a snip-it from some of AMF history

Until the mid-1980s, AMF’s range of consumer goods included powered model airplanes, snow skis, lawn and garden equipment, Ben Hogan golf clubs, Voit inflatable balls, exercycles and exercise equipment, Hatteras Yachts, Alcort Sailboats, Nimble bicycles, motorized bicycles, mopeds, and SCUBA gear. For a time, AMF owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

AMF Crestliner


Now, I am gonna toss a bone here. I cant imagine engineers and designers were all fired. There was still passion. Maybe, just maybe the stress of mass production caused issues. The extra stuff wanted by consumers was stretching the world of analog design. One could over complicate stuff. Look at a dash on a mid 80’s any car. All that LED crap that broke a week after the warranty was over. Maybe it’s all the first generation problems of new technology. Maybe it was a crap economy.

Soory, I am going with a Apple Krate or Lemon Peeler from Schwinn

Maybe, and this is another human leap. But around that time would have been the time Baby Boomers were trying to cash in on stuff. Before retirement. They would have been hitting their 50’s and money can take over from Passion. So sure, sell your company to a company like AMF, cash out, and leave the company with the head ache of trying to pay that off.

Without increasing the cost of the pleasure product, they had to cut corners. Is that possible. One good side effect is that the classic car and classic boat passion became a thing then. From my personal experience, I felt like a used car at that time was far far better and cooler than a new Mustang II or Pinto..

Honey, please help me here.

So is this a case of cause and effect. Do we have AMF, GM, and other crap companies to thank for our passion? Is it possible that anything with an AMF logo on it will be cool and collectable because of the iconic crap they made? Collecting is a strange beast for sure.



27 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    The issues with AMF were caused by a top down management style that wiped out institutional knowledge at the companies they bought. While designs certainly suffered, it was on the manufacturing floor where their incompetence really shined.

    For all their faults though, AMF was more a symptom of trend toward trash consumer products that started in 60’s and continues today.

  2. Woodrow T. Woopecker
    Woodrow T. Woopecker says:

    oh n000000000oooooo, more plastic!

    It hurts my beak and tastes like . . . PLASTIC!

    Change name to Plasti-Boater!

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      Without including ClassicGlass in our hobby it will surely die.
      Quit whining and embrace it.

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:


        I am going to go out on a limb (wooden one, from a figurative tree) and say that Woody Woodpecker (sp) is not his real name and that the comment was a joke. 🙂

        You get a pass though seeing as it is Monday morning!

        • Troy in ANE
          Troy in ANE says:


          I get that and obviously it is not a real name, but go back through the last few weeks and any time there is a glass boat on WB there is a whinny comment about this being WoodyBoater not FiberglassBoater.

          Like I have said before, this site is a Blog. Nothing more or less. If Matt wants to write about his Grandmothers ingrown toe nails he has the right to do so. I am not sure as though the advertisers would agree with me though.

      • Steve Horwood in MI
        Steve Horwood in MI says:

        Agreed. Without some classic glass, this hobby passion or whatever you want to call it will infact die. Good luck passing on your 47 to your kids as they way have the desire to keep it and your memories going, but they won’t have the time, knowledge or interest to keep it floating. Wood and plastic can live together

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    m-fine hits the nail on the head again.

    Matt I see your math is consistent with your spelling. The Baby Boom started at the end of WWII (mid 40’s) the first of the boomers would have been hitting their 40’s in the mid 80’s making them big consumers, not cashing out. The boom ended in the early 60’s so those of us on the tail end are still in our 50’s now.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      I agree, I was born in February 1946, and I consider myself as a “Leader or first one over the hill” (LOL) of this big group of people.
      Fun fact, Born in 46 and I graduated from high school in 64, that combo of digits may never happen again!

  4. Garry
    Garry says:

    Hand it to m-fine for nailing it.
    Have you-all been following the news stories about micro-plastics being everywhere? Everywhere even includes beer and probably sausage & bacon.
    Stick with wood!

  5. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    I’m hoping for an AMF revival…I have two AMF Sailfishes, I’ve been trying to give away…The parts are all there although one sail got torn in the recent hurricane Michael. I’ll even take them to Mt. Dora, if someone wants to take them home from there.

  6. Bob Matson
    Bob Matson says:

    Our ’77 crestliner Apollo was a pretty decent boat. Smooth on the water. And she carried couches, water heaters, generators, water pumps, tools furniture and everything else out to our island in Lake of the Woods, Canada. She still plies the water somewhere up here in Ely,MN/.

    • John Kloka
      John Kloka says:

      Slickcraft was under the auspices of AMF during most of the 1970’s. They managed to not mess up Leon Slikkers vision during this period. My 1976 28 Express is proof. Compare this to a 28 Catalina… Much more stylish and much, much more teak!

  7. Scott K
    Scott K says:

    It’s not AMF or GM that is to blame. Maybe more to do with the social condition of the country. Peace, love, down with the man, blah, blah, blah. Which had morphed into an insatiable American consumer desire to buy cheap shit.

  8. Briant
    Briant says:

    Oh I wish I still had my bicycle like above with the chopper handlebars and the banana seat with the sissy bar. (Yeah yea I know it ain’t PC to say sissy bar but that’s what they were called in my neck of the woods.) That sissy bar was needed to haul around your buddy on his aluminum California Pro skateboard.

    Mine also had the totally necessary gear shift straight out of a Chevy Camaro. I mean really, can you imagine putting a car gear shift on a bike today….some jackass would sue.

    And I love the comment by Bob M. about using the Apollo as a shuttle. Can you imagine anyone shlepping a couch out to the cabin on a boat like Wecatchem?

    We have to be a bit careful here…..hindsight is easy. We can slam AMF and HD, but a lot of people bought, used, and enjoyed a lot of their stuff over the decades. I don’t think we can blame the worker bee or even management….I think the blame lies with the consumer.

    Remember how popular Sears was? I’ll tell you this, I ain’t buying my Craftsman tools on Amazon for Chrissakes…..

  9. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    I owned the Wharf Marina during the 1990’s and we started to see all kind of issues with boats built in the mid to late 1980’s start to pop up. Blistering in the gel coats for one, cheap build/material construction in stringers, interior fabrics, very thin gel coat which made colored top decks fade, etc. All things that point to the bean counters forcing cost-cutting everywhere they could. But we the consumer did not know what was going on till it was too late, and issues started cropping up with our boats years later. Then trying to sell that boat was hard, and the vicious cycle began…
    AS a boat broker in the 2000’s, the boats that nobody wanted due to their bad reputation was AMF made boats, Chris Craft Amerosports, and all small Bayliners come to mind.

  10. Don Palmer
    Don Palmer says:

    We are having our Pacific Northwest ACBS chapter Annual Dinner on Saturday and every year we hand out a “Bayliner award” to the person or persons caught running with a fender still out.
    I heard a rumor that Ron Stevenson got a photo of Dick Dow’s 38′ Tollycraft with me standing in the stern with a fender still out. Oh Well, I owned a Bayliner 30 years ago and it wasn’t that bad! Oh the shame of it though!

  11. briant
    briant says:


    I think we can all agree that EVERYONE has at some point run about with their fender hanging out. (that sounds kinda gross actually)

  12. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    I’m surprised no one has (until now) recognized the acronym that AMF is… Adios Mother – you get the rest. 😉 Sorta what happens to the best of any company when taken over by a large conglomerate. But I also support that the result is a symptom – not the cause of our societal “need” to acquire.

    As for the apparently pending “Bay – Rhymes with Nothing Can be Finer” award – I think the photo is of us in the Red & White, not the Tolly…

  13. Todd C
    Todd C says:

    Now owned by a conglomerate names you maybe “used to use” but probably don’t much anymore:
    Weiland, SuperChips, Holley, NOS, MSD, Mr. Gasket, Mallory, Hooker Headers, Hays, ACCEL did these poor guys get bought and loose their identity like brands under AMF?

    • jim g
      jim g says:

      MSD bought Mallory gutted the company. Discontinued all the distributors that MSD didn’t make. Wonder why you can’t get any new Mallory marine distributor. MSD is your answer.

  14. Royce Humphreys
    Royce Humphreys says:

    AMF was typical of many of the conglomerates that bought out successful up and coming or long standing businesses at that time in history. Take the name, get the bean counters involved and lower your cost to produce and increase profits all for the sake of the shareholder, not the consumer. Happens every day even in todays world as I have lived it first hand. We also need to address that there are price points on products and that also addresses the needs of those certain markets. All part of the business cycle b it good or bad. I grew up with the AMF era of products, so I am keenly aware of the issues, because we realized them back when they were happening!

  15. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Just shows how nice wood boats can stand the test of time. Restorable by the home enthusiast or professional . Plastic also has it’s place , along with aluminum and steel . But wood was the choice material for thousands of years!

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