Glastron Had It Covered In The 1960’s

1960 Glastron_0001

1960 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover

THE 1960’s WAS A SPECIAL TIME FOR DESIGN AND INNOVATION throughout the entire transportation industry. In the auto industry, designers and engineers were developing higher horsepower engines to meet the ever increasing demands of buyers in the performance segment – which eventually led them to create cars that not only performed better, but also handled better and attracted buyers with new and innovative styling. General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and American Motors were all busy developing their own individual brands. The results of that period are now legendary.

About this time of year, curious media and consumers would gather at the Detroit Auto Show for the unveiling of the new models, which usually changed dramatically from year to year. Not so much any more (although I’m sure the car guys would disagree).

During that same period – from 1960 to 1970 – the Glastron Boat Company was also busy developing their individual brand as one of the leaders in the relatively new fiberglass boat industry. But even though the designers and engineers all have an important role in the success of any company, the Marketing Department (and Ad Agency) is in charge of presenting the product to the consumer.

1960 Glastron_0007 - Copy

The 18′ Bayflite Cruisette from the 1960 Galstron sales brochure.

Glastron did a remarkable job not only with innovative design and engineering, but also with marketing. Today, with some help from Minnesota correspondent Dane Anderson, we are going to review a tiny piece of Glastron’s development from 1960 to 1970 through the covers of their annual sales brochures. The trends, the creative photography and artwork tells an interesting story, and gives us a certain appreciation for the folks in the Marketing Department. I just love the language they used in the brochures in order to keep pace with the times in the 1960’s. Don’t forget, you can always click on the photos to enlarge them. – Texx

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For the 1960 sales brochure, all photos of Glastron Boats with Johnson Motors were photographed at Cypress Gardens, Florida in 1960 by Tram Pickett.

Dane Anderson notes: “It was really a fascinating time for Glastron. August thru April was the manufacturing run, then they’d retool and build prototypes and promo boats for the brochures. Shoot the brochures mid summer to get them printed in time for the winter boat shows.”

“I’ve seen some pictures from the Glastron winter sales conventions. They’d go to Acapulco for a lampshade on your head drunken convention, Ah the Sixties…”

“Glastron was quite remarkable. A leader in design, they moved to V-hulls before most manufacturers. The major changes in hull shapes every couple years in the late 50s and early 60s was to stay ahead of the copycats who were simply splashing Glastron hulls to call their own (Redfish and others). The fiberglass boat industry was extreamly competitive during the 1960’s.” – Dane

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1961 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover.

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The theme for 1961 was – For Fun in ’61 Go Glastron! For 1961 the Deep-Hulled 18′ Bayflite and all new 14′ Jetflite models were featured by Glastron.

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1962 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover

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For 1962 Outdrives were the hot ticket with the Seaflite Volvo-Penta 194, the Starflite OMC 156 and the Bayflite Volvo-Penta 164.

1963 Glastron_0001

1963 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover

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The theme was – The Boats to See in ’63. By 1963 Glastron offered 18 models in 4 colors, from the 13’5″ Jetflite to the 18’7″ Gulfstream.

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1964 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover

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For 1964 the theme was – Jet Smooth Ride, Space Age Styling. Stability, Comfort, Performance… All yours in a Glastron Aqua-Lift. Pick your power and pleasure in a Glastron 17-Footer.

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1965 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover

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The theme in 1965 was – First in Class, Finest Overall. With more focus on pleasure boats, the 1965 Glastron line-up featured models from 14′ up to 23′. The theme was – Glastron gives you more of everything… offering more options and equipment.

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Space age styling, Jet-smooth ride – Yours in a Glastron ’65.

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1966 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover

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The theme for 1966 was – Measure more pleasure in a feature-packed Glastron… Enjoy the wonderful world of water sports in a Glastron. With even more available options and equipment to meet the demands of their growing market.

With the mid-1960’s came the “In Crowd” movement or culture in America. Anybody here remember being part of the “In Crowd” back then? The marketing department was quick to pick up on that term and make sure you HAD to have a Glastron boat to be part of the “In Crowd”…


1967 Glastron Full art

1967 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover

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The theme for 1967 was Fun! – Meet the Swingers, three great new Glastron designs for really Livin’ on the Water! The Swinger V-176, Swinger V-177 and Sportster V-156 – dubbed the Go-Go Boat. A Swingin’ party at the dock with Tim Lively and the Profits playing tunes in the background. (The Glastron dealers had to love it – Texx)

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Nimble and Neat… The Glastron Fleet! – Note the small MG in the background, the marketing guys didn’t miss a beat.

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1968 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover – Foreground: New GT-160, V-156 Sportster, V-177 Swinger. Houseboat courtesy of Nauta-Line.

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The theme for 1968 was – The IN boats that turn you ON! Announcing the new Glastron GT-160 with Aqua Lift II Hull! The Surprise Design of the Year…

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The Glastron brochures promoted performance of the brand, advanced engineering and superior production.

1968 Glastron_0012

Turn You On! – Featuring the “trailerable” Glastron 23-foot V-234 Caribbean Sport Fisherman available with twin 120’s for power and performance.

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1969 Glastron Sales Brochure Cover – (Not sure where they are for this photo shoot, but that doesn’t look like Florida to me – i.e. mountains)

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The theme for 1969 was – The Shape of FUN to Come / Glastron the FUN Company! And the introduction of the IDEA boat of the year! – The V180 Fundeck at Lakeshore Marina. Also note that Mercury outboards are beginning to show up in the marketing brochures.

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The Glastron V-204 Gulfstream Stern Drive – 20 feet of high performance Deep-V hull, available 120 to 225 HP. By 1969 (as noted in the brochure) Glastron now ships by truck or custom railcar to 30 warehouses and has more than 1,200 Dealerships in all 50 states and 38 foreign countries. The first Glastron boat ever built is now 12 years old and is still in running order.

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1970 Glastron-Carlson Sales Brochure Cover

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The theme for 1970 was – Glastron the FUN Revolution. Most FUN for the money… Offering 24 models ranging from the 14′ Fireflite to the 24′ Caribbean.

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The V-143 Jetflite Deep Vee – For the young at heart!

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For 1970 Stern-Drive Power For Your FUN On-The-Go!

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Also for 1970 – The Glastron / Carlson Challenger and Defender performance boats.

Although this story ends with the 1970 Glastron / Carlson Sales Brochure, I just had to share this next shot from the 1971 brochure, of the very cool Glastron CV-21, which was Jet only and came standard with a big Oldsmobile 455 V-8 for power.

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And for a glimpse into the future, for 1971 Glastron / Carlson introduced the sleek looking CV-21 with Jet-Power.

Well I hope that wasn’t too long today, but after all we just covered 10 years of fiberglass boat design, development and marketing. In 12 short years, by 1969 Glastron sold over 60,000 boats – an impressive number. And the Marketing Department had a big part in that success.

I am curious to know how many of our viewers remember these boats and if they have any connection to this period. Let us know with a comment of a photo.


57 replies
  1. Chris B
    Chris B says:

    I was only 1 in 1962 so did not dream of owning a glastron. But the bond movies sure made me aware of the name. we never had anything so exciting so those were the boats to be cool in.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Can anyone count all the safety violations in those ads? 🙂

    Today you can’t show people having that much fun, you’ll get sued!

    Great article Texx. A bit before my time, but I remember the Glastron’s of the next decade with fondness. We had one in a lovely avacado color that I wish was still with us. The hull split and she sank like a Century…I mean rock, luckily while at the dock, but it was a fun boat with classic Glastron style while it lasted.

  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Great story – I ws born in ’64 and we did not have a cottage, so I have no memories of Glastron’s from those years, But, as you know Texx and as was featured here a few years back, my first “classic” boat was a 1965 Futura 500 V-164, in the red and white color shown in the 1965 brochure. It remains one of my favorite boats and is used very regularly throughout the season. It is usable, has decent performance and is quite visually striking. Very few were sold, likely because it is small and the I/O made it very expensive for the size.

    Never the less, that boat ignited my interest in classics of all types, and I had pursued buying it for abut 15 years before I secured it – not because I knew anything about classic boats, but because I thought it was cool.

    Glastrons remain plentiful, inexpensive and fun boats for anyone wanting to either boat, get into the classic hobby or both. There is an active club on line and because of the Bond movie exposure, mot people know what they are. It is almost like “all” old wooden boats were known as Chris Crafts – Glastron was very large and very well marketed, which resulted in a sort of perception that sporty glass boats were Glastrons’.

    While I don’t mind a bit of whimsy from time to time, the absurdity of the marketing picture in the epitome of silliness – what the hell were they thinking? Obviously that people would remember the boat because of the ridiculous seen portrayed in the shot?

    By the way, I prefer Ramsey Lewis’s “The in Crowd” (recorded live in the early ’60’s in some smoky jazz club, to Dobie Grey’s song – which is a totally different song of the same name, Have a listen….

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    There was a twin engine beauty on last years St. Johns River Cruise. I think you may have had a header of it at one time, but I don’t find it in my saved headers file.

    What is the car pulling the boat in the ’64 Jet picture?

  5. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Glasstron did indeed do a great job of marketing their products in the 60’s. Proof positive that marketing strategy is as important as the product itself. Fortunately they also produced a great selection of boats that lived up to their brags, that kept up with the times when fiberglass boat companies were all competing for the same market area. It appears that Glasstron’s success in the 60’s was based on good marketing strategy, combined with on-target research and development, along with building a reliable product that didn’t disappoint.

    Great story Tex!

  6. Scott Stensland
    Scott Stensland says:

    Spent many hours in northern Minnesota water skiing behind those old Glastrons, great memories! Anyone else notice how much the header boat looks like the same profile as a modern Nautique G23/25, Malibu Wakesetter or MasterCraft XStar? I guess it’s true…what goes around, comes around – and only about a hundred grand less.

  7. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    Thx., Texx, a great article. Yes, I remember glastron, well. Was a well-regarded brand in those days, no doubt due in part to the crazy advertising. I have to be amused how they appropriated the various themes of the period in their catalogs, like “turn on” , etc. Reminds me of a speech by abbie hoffman (you know one of the student radicals of those days) who wanted a revolution and denounced madison ave. for trivializing his call. He cited various examples and the one that comes to mind was an advertisement for a product that was “a revolution in toilet paper.” God, how did we are survive the 60s? No doubt these old brochures has to bring a laugh to an advertising guy like matt.

    • matt
      matt says:

      Yes its a Studibaker Avatee, note the square lights not round, and the Studibaker type. thats the give away. I wonder did Raymond Lowey have anything to do with any of this. I know he helped design some other boats durring that time.

  8. JFKarlson
    JFKarlson says:

    Great story Texx and Dane! Our first powerboat on Lake Okoboji was a Glastron 15′ tri-hull. I guess it was a “Swinger” according to the brochure. We had a blast on that boat – that is when we could coax the 50 HP Mercury outboard to life.

  9. Mike W
    Mike W says:

    Glastron = cool.

    The Marketing guru’s and photographers can get a little away from reality. While I am not 100% certain, the red I/O in the ’62 picture appears to have been taken, or pre-photoshoped, at the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Not much water in that controlled water. A few more pictures down I sure looks like the a boat is in someones pool.

  10. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Great story…and great brochures for the time period. There are a bunch of Glastron owners that have a land display at Tavares…Come see them.

  11. Chuck Crosby
    Chuck Crosby says:

    My parents second boat was a Glastron, using the brochures, I would guess that it was a 1965 Bayflite V-163 with a big Scott outboard. I have great memories skiing behind that boat in the Sacramento Delta and foothill lakes.

    Dad kept it about 4-5 years before replacing it with Keaton inboard that was much better to ski behind and more reliable.

  12. Gene Porter
    Gene Porter says:

    Great trip down memory lane.
    For a couple of years we had a mustard yellow 15′ deep vee Canadian Glastron knockoff with a 40HP Johnson docked in the swamp one house away from Matt’s new digs. Teen age son developed a habit of speeding out into the Potomac and then throwing a rod. The family flagship and rescue boat at that time was a 19′ Penn Yan whose V-4 outboard suffered the chronic vicissitudes of the early electronic ignition modules.

    For those “woodyboaters” thinking of dipping into the glass class, check out shipshapetv

    • Cobourg Kid
      Cobourg Kid says:

      Intriguing video; thanks Gene ! Texx and Dane thanks as always for taking us down Glastron memory lane today.

      Always loved Glastron’s but never owned one, definitely a cool blast from my cottage past!

  13. Sean
    Sean says:

    We did not own a cottage so, I was only introduced to Glastron boats in the early 1970’s. The hull logo clearly says “A CONROY Company”… and I wished I knew that Uncle.

    Of course, with a name like Sean Conroy (not quite Connery) I was also quick to identify with the 007 world record jump in 1972 with a GT-150. This despite it was supposed to be Roger Moore in that boat (I could let that slide). I like the GT-150 to this day despite it being an outboard.

    However, if the time frame is the 1960’s and the subject is plastic, then I’m a Donzi guy (1964) all the way so, there is no Glastron planned for my future. 🙂

    • Murray Parnell
      Murray Parnell says:

      Happy New year Sean
      I am a Glastron Guy but I love those Donzi sweet 16s but couldnt afford them .See you in the new year

  14. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Being born in 1946, I grew up on this type of marketing in the 50’s and 60’s, when I would just drool over all the cool cars and boats available each year. To this day it is were I got my love for “STYLE” in my cars and boats.
    I would love the marketing hype each September when the cars were delivered under a cover on the transport trucks, and the dealers would paper up the show room windows for a couple of days, as they rolled in the new model cars at night. Loved the suspense, and the unveiling.
    now you know why I have had several boats named “STYLE” and have it on my classic car plates.

  15. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    GREAT story Texx. Brilliant!
    Such crazy cool advertising to sell very cool boats. Love the boat next to the Star Fighter. ” bring the boat out on to the ramp darling and well go boating as soon as I’m back from my mission.”
    And the shot in the pool is fab! Really loved ready this story thanks Texx.

  16. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    While we are on the topic of Fiberglassics , anyone out there know which manufacturer designed and built this wild bird from the 50s-60s.. I’m almost certain its NOT a Glastron ,but what the heck is it?

    • John Gullick
      John Gullick says:

      This is a Leavens built in Toronto in the early 60s. I think it is a Victor model. I am working on the restoration of a 1960 Victor right now. I’ll try and post a photo later but meanwhile Google 1960 Leavens boat. You will find brochures. John

    • John Gullick
      John Gullick says:

      Transom and floor totally rotted out but the rest is very sound. Watch Ronny’s Marine site for progress,

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        Thanks John for sharing a few photos of your 1960 Leavens Victor project with us. We are looking forward to seeing more as the project moves along. Could be a great future story on Woody Boater. – Texx

  17. Denis D
    Denis D says:

    Great posting. Those Glastrons look a lot like my 1970 Winner Bimini with it’s “Quadra Lift Hull”. It’s a real fun boat for skiing and tubing. I bought it about 10 years ago from the original owner’s son-in-law and was garage kept all it’s life. I guess it’s an ACBS classic now. Winner built the first all fiberglass boat around 1946.

    Denis D

  18. Eric
    Eric says:

    In the 70’s We had a Swinger v-156 my dad would pull my sister and I skiing (after dinner and homework of course). We also had a 1932 CC runabout and a ’67 Lancer. But it was the Glastron we had the most fun in at the time! Go figure!

  19. murray Parnell
    murray Parnell says:

    I was in my teens in the 70s,we had a friend with a Glastron bow rider. We had a 64 Evinrude Gull wing.I dont remember too many boats with the wings but in my (38) boats I have a 58 Glastron Skiflite and a 58 Surflite and 84 CVX. We take the Surflite to many runs and shows and love the interest it brings
    I am restoring my 1972 MX13 Checkmate that I bought when I was 15,just picked it up from Ronnys Marine Yesterday with a fantastic new Metal Flake finish.Love the classic Glass boats with their wild designs ,metal flake finishes and fast hulls in the 70s. Back then it was Big Blocks and Bikini Tops
    Murray P

      • Murray Parnell
        Murray Parnell says:

        Hi Texx
        RPM is Recreational &Pereformance Motor Show
        It is a automotive flea market ,Classic Car show ,Bike show, Truck show,,Tractor show and Classic Boat show
        This is the 2nd annual and The Trent Severn Antique & Classic Boat Association have partnered with Ronnys Marine to put on their Summer Boat show at RPM
        We are looking for lots of glass boats. to join our great display of wood boats. last year we had lots of Hot boats ,Hydros, Checkmates, J Craft ,Sidewinder,Flat Bottom Tunnels etc.The 60s and 70s were all about Hot Boats
        Go on Trent Severn Antique and Classic Boat site for pictures of last year or Ronnys Marine and check our the slide shows of many Classic Boat restorations
        Any Questions feel free to ask

  20. Ed F.
    Ed F. says:

    Paul H’s experience is exactly why I think the ACBS did the right thing including fiberglass boats. People will come to shows to see the glass they grew up with then discover that they love wood. My brother bought a 16′ Carlson with a Merc 150 XS in the early ’80’s. It was a true 80 mph boat. The guy he sold it to had a habit of smoking funny little cigarettes while cruising the Kanakee River in Illinois. He blew the boat over backwards and destroyed it shortly after he bought it.

  21. Mr. Andreas Jordahl Rhude
    Mr. Andreas Jordahl Rhude says:

    Glastron was recently sold again. They started out in Austin, TX and eventually moved to New Braunfels, TX. Conroy was an oil industry firm that bought out the company from the original 4 founders. Glastron moved into the Larson Boat facility in Little Falls, MN after they were gobbled up by Irv the Liquidator Jacobs. After Jacobs’ Genmar went bankrupt a few years ago Glastron moved to Cadillac, MI. I would guess the new owners will keep them in Cadillac.

  22. Branden deBuhr
    Branden deBuhr says:

    I have always loved Glastron Carlson. My buddy and I picked this one up last summer and are in the process of restoring it to its former glory as the floor and the stringers and the transom was totally rotted out. I plan to show my kids what tubing is really all about! all they know about tubing to this point is riding between the wake behind my 42 foot Cruiser

  23. Alex
    Alex says:

    I just discovered woody boater, and I’m a bit late to this article. The advertising and photography is as beautiful as the boats Glastron produced. I have a few of these brochures as well as a 1961 Glastron Fireflite. Purchased from the original owner, and maintained in immaculate condition. It’s a unrestored gem and I proudly show it at my SoCal ACBS shows.

    Great article Texx, thanks for welcoming these iconic classic fiberglass boats into the classic boating world.

  24. Brian mayo
    Brian mayo says:

    This is a photo of what I assume was a prototype of a 1967 v177 swinger with a Berkeley jet drive. It is powered by a 210 hp Ford 302.

  25. Brad Henry
    Brad Henry says:

    My parents bought a Blue Metal flake 1964 Thunder Jet V160 while on their honeymoon in Minneapolis Minnesota. It was their first major purchase as a married couple. My grandfather (a ND farmer) was not happy with their purchase. My parents believe that it was the first Glastron in ND. We ran that boat until the mid 70’s with a 100hp Mercury which was then replaced with a Johnson 115. In the early 80’s we sold the Thunder Jet and bought a Glastron SSV169 open bow. I wish we had kept the Thunder Jet, it was a great ski boat for its time and was very stylish!!

  26. Dane
    Dane says:

    Cool boat and a rare Glastron model. The hull was shared with the Bayflite. The mid sixties Glastron deep V’s were great performers and ahead of their time.

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