Are You Ready For Some Good Times?

Image courtesy Blackwell Boatworks

Image courtesy Blackwell Boatworks

Well, we all know that owning a cool classic boat can bring some good times to your life. But if you purchase this rare 1956 Emancipator on ebay, you can guarantee good times are always with you. Even sitting in a warehouse. Behind your truck, at the dock…  I will say, I had never heard of  this brand, but here it is.. According to the ebay listing, this is the last one made. And its been totally restored. So that’s good. Here is a link to her restoration photos.


The cool thing about a boat like this is that its fun to use, and look at. This sucker looks like a trip out into the deep sea for fishing is doable.

And if you can’t afford Good Times in your barn, you can watch the video.

34 replies
  1. Dennis
    Dennis says:

    Absolutely beautiful boat. Thanks for showing it to us. Great way to start the day in “too much snow” Michigan.

      • MikeM
        MikeM says:

        For you guys that don’t like the boat Modest Mouse has a song for you….”The Good Times are killing me”…..maybe matt can post that video….

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Hey m-fine, perhaps not “bad lines,” but I agree with you that something’s off with her.

      Perhaps “missed opportunity” would be a better name, since she had the potential to be better.

      It we had a truly qualified artist in our midst, say, a Dick Avery, it would be most interesting to learn what it is we’re seeing that ain’t right.

      Just hypothesizing here, but perhaps a bit too Shepherd-like — too heavy/thick on top? (DON’T TROY!) And the drop / slope / or what ever it’s called, would be better had it started further bow-ward, as with a Red and White.

      I’m not trying to be mean about this. Just trying to solve what our eyes are telling us.

  2. Troy
    Troy says:

    It is an interesting boat.

    Not sure if it is priced realistically?

    Loved the video.

    I would rather have the CC Alan donated to the museum.

  3. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    If you want to get $160,000 plus, learn how to spell mahogany and sell a boat that goes faster then 40 mph +. I’m not a fan of the upswept shear line in this case. JMHO.

  4. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Hey Matt, as king of the WoodyBoater universe, I think you should take a shot at breaking that line dance record. How about Tavares to Algonac in March!

  5. Sean
    Sean says:

    I don’t think she’s bad looking at all. Directly from the bows she’s reminicent of a scaled Elco PT boat. I agree that the design aesthetics could benefit from some more rake to the bow when viewed from alongside. But, overall quite pleasing …and I’ve seen much worse.

    What hurts this IMHO is the ambitious price tag attached to a virtually unknown marque and non-significant history of the boat. Tell me JFK had her made and then she’s worth it!

  6. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    I wonder if she was built at Emancipator Boat Works at 79th St. and Little River in Miami ? The photo looks like a South Florida causway bridge. I’ll bet Mike Matheson would know.

    • Troy
      Troy says:

      “Girl in the Black Suit” makes me think of the Matt Nathanson song “Girl in the Kinks Shirt”.
      The video of that song kind of ruined it for me though.
      I’m not going to post a link here due to frontal nudity, you can search you tube if you want.

  7. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:


    I think the reason she looks funny is that whatever remained of the original boat has been ‘remuddled’ to death…now she looks nothing like she did originally. Where did the hardtop escape to?

    The original Emancipators were very distinctive and I’m sure they’ve become extremely rare. They remind me of the Forest Johnson Prowlers, too.

  8. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    So, this is the only Emancipator left on Earth? That’s not a very good survival rate, though given the Atlantic location of the factory, they probably lived much tougher lives than the runabouts living on small lakes.

    I’m sure the price is based on restoration costs, and as previous discussions have noted, the costs surpass the value. Nice looking restoration, though!

    Speaking of restoration, I enjoyed the header photo yesterday of Rejuvenation Woodworks in Eustis, FL. I’ve been to the shop a couple of times, and yet I would not have known where the photo was taken if not for the caption info.

    Richard Arnold and his crew at Rejuvenation did a beautiful job with our Greavette Runabout.

  9. Bartlomiej
    Bartlomiej says:

    HOLY, 160,000k!!!! Woweeee! For that kinda of money your options are endless… You can scoop one bad ass cruiser for half the price or a nice Gar Wood or Hacker… 160k for that boat. No offense but thats just nuts…

  10. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    The lines in the photo showing the boat with the top harken towards a late ’40’s 26′ Steelcraft crsuiser, which by the way is one of Mike Mayer’s most coveted boats. He just missed one near Portland a few years ago. Not many Steelcraft’s around, either. Keep looking, Mike!

    The pricing on this listing is utterly nonsensical – and that is a nice way of putting it.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Good connection with Steelcraft Paul. But the Steelcraft is better looking.

      (Oh, and since I now know MikeM covets them, I’m going to get the Hunt Bros to corner the market on them, just to mess with him.)

      I think Grant has it right. This Emancipator looks like it’s missing its top. (DON’T TROY.) The kind of top the Steelcraft has.

  11. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    We all have our weaknesses Superman was kryptonite, Matt’s is spelling and the owner of the Emancipator is obviously decimal point placement!

  12. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    Viewers may be interested to know that the development of the stylish Emancipator Express Cruiser came about when a retired millionaire speedboat king became bored and found a new, albeit temporary, career as boat builder.

    Mortimer Aeurbach one-time heir to one of Chicago’s largest, busiest and most profitable department stores, had at a very early age professed a desire to race automobiles, a career that was that was summarily vetoed by his overly protective parents. Ultimately, however, time won out and young Aeurbach prevailed in his goal- well sort of. In 1932 at the height of the great depression he began to successfully campaign, not race cars but a series of 135, 91 and 225 cubic inch hydroplanes, all seven appropriately christened “emancipator”.

    According to an article that appeared in the July 1938 edition of MotorBoating magazine, the diminutive Aeurbach had, (up to that time), participated in nearly 200 races. A career that featured many perilous crack-ups, and earned him the experience of being thrown from his cockpit at least five times, , three of which ending in an extended stay in hospital. Nevertheless despite his full-fledged membership in what was known as the Hell Drivers hall of fame Aeurbach was a winning competitor.

    To that end in the late summer of 1939 Aeurbach piloted Emancipator VII, (pictured below) a Ventnor Hydroplane (designed and built for him by the legendary Arno Apel) to victory, claiming the Duke of York Trophy in England. A race that ended up being his last official run.

    Having hung up his racing suit, Aeurbach dabbled in boat repairs and servicing during the war years and in due course incorporated the Emancipator Boat Corporation in December 1946.

    Soon afterward a 32 thousand square foot plant was procured in the little river district of Miami and the firm began rolling out a stylish 26 foot express cruiser co-designed by Aerubach and ex WWII PT Boat Captain Clayton Lowe.

    At the height of production MotorBoating reported that five boats per week were being completed by approximately 110 workers (in retrospect this seems to be a somewhat over-enthusiastic estimate).

    Unfortunately despite an extremely innovative and well-funded print campaign and a quality product, the company found it difficult to sustain the inflow of new orders and soon overextended itself. By 1949 the situation had become dire and the firm, in a last ditch attempt to expand sales, introduced a sedan version of the express, all to no avail.

    Ultimately in September 1949 with growing debt and few orders coming in the firm made the difficult decision to declare bankruptcy leaving a number of disgruntled suppliers in its wake.

    Several months later the Nelson Boat Corporation, also of Miami, acquired the Emancipator brand and carried out a complete redesign of the now aging express cruiser.

    In an attempt to reinvigorate the brand the 1950 model sported hydraulic controls, an all-new mahogany hull with expanded beam and a re-contoured bottom; all calculated to achieve more stability and higher speed. In addition the boat’s freeboard was also raised significantly to deliver both a drier ride and additional cabin headroom.

    Despite the extensive makeover Nelson apparently had little success with the brand too, probably because of a highly competitive market jammed with similar luxury cruisers from other firms.

    Accordingly, in April 1955 Nelson decided to unload the Emancipator trademark and associated molds, patterns, hardware and designs after finding a buyer, the Olsen-Montgomery Yacht Corporation of St Simons Island (Brunswick) Georgia.

    Olson continued to sporadically produce the Emancipator to around 1960.

    With regard to “Good Times” I agree that over the years she has been extensively re-muddled. While mahogany is a wonderful wood, the Emancipators’ design does not lend itself to a varnished hull. This boat came from the factory with Whitesides for a reason, to give her a sleek modern look. That’s what she needs to look her best.

    • Troy
      Troy says:

      Great read!

      Thanks for all the info!

      Now that I know the background I think she is up to, maybe, 40K in my eyes.

  13. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    Copy of an promotional letter touting the virtues of the Emancipator to Charles F Chapman avid boater, fellow race boat pilot and editor of Hearst’s MotorBoating magazine from from 1912 to 1968. The letter was published as an unconventional ad in a 1948 edition of MotorBoating.

    • Grant Stanfield
      Grant Stanfield says:

      Wow- thanks, Cobourg Kid, for such an interesting and in-depth backstory on the Emancipator!

      For such a rare and unusual saltwater day-boat/sport fisherman, I feel the restored Emancipator in question has missed its target by a country mile. If something is the very last of its kind, why wasn’t it restored (as-built) for posterity?

      Oh, well…

  14. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Thats quite a synopsis CK, very interesting. I like Hugh Saints version called a “Picnic Launch” 28.5 length.

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