Two Chris-Craft Speedboats Set To Cross The Block At RM Hershey Pennsylvania Auction


Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 1

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

The historic Hershey Lodge is the setting for the annual RM Hershey, Pennsylvania sale, with a variety of automobile events occurring all around the Hershey grounds to make this a true enthusiast’s affair. Held in conjunction with the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Eastern Fall Meet, the Hershey Week brings together collectors and hobbyists from far and wide, resulting in the largest swap meet in the United States. RM is a proud sponsor of the Night at the Museum, a charity fundraiser for the AACA that features a silent auction, great food, and live entertainment.

This year two significant Chris-Craft Speedboats are set to cross the block at the 2-day RM Auction – Thursday Oct. 9th & Friday Oct. 10th. Antique Boat Center is presenting a 1941 Chris-Craft 27′ Model 115 Custom Runabout “Runaway Jane” and Freedom Boat Service is presenting “Muse” a 1930 Chris-Craft 26′ Model 111 Runabout.

Here’s the details on both of these exceptional Chris-Craft speedboats, from the 2014 RM Hershey digital catalog. And don’t forget that you can always click on the images to enlarge them. – Texx

Lot 264
1941 Chris-Craft 27′ Model 115 Custom “Runaway Jane”
Auction estimate: $225,000 – $275,000
Hull no. 27061 300 bhp, 502 cu. in. Mercury Mercruiser V-8 engine.
Length: 27 ft.

•One of only three examples built for 1941
•Restored by noted antique boat experts
•The ultimate in American pleasure craft

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 2

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

For the 1932 season, Chris-Craft introduced a totally new 27-foot custom runabout model to replace their outgoing 28-footer. The new runabout offered a stronger and heavier hull with a greater beam, and it could accommodate a wider range of engine options and offer even better performance. The new model was successful and remained in their lineup as the flagship of Chris-Craft’s outstanding runabout fleet until 1941.

In 1940, when plans were being prepared for their 1941 models, Chris-Craft’s design team was confident that the time was right to add even more special streamlining to their three custom runabout models. The slowdown created by the Great Depression seemed to finally be over, and this was the perfect time to offer exciting design treatments to potential buyers.

It was also a time when the lure of fast runabouts was capturing the imagination of sportsmen who enjoyed being on the cutting edge with the latest objects of modern design. Beautiful boats that provided exhilarating performance offered the water equivalent of the prestige and enthusiasm enjoyed by contemporary sports car owners. Fast, attractive runabouts offered enormous appeal, and Chris-Craft’s classic runabouts were the boats to been seen in.

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 4

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

In 1940 and 1941, Chris-Craft’s 19- and 23-foot custom runabouts captured a great deal of attention with their beautifully rounded transoms, which were commonly referred to as “barrel backs.” Chief Designer Bill MacKerrer expanded the barrel back concept by rounding the top of the stem and continuing this stunning treatment to the covering boards, which were over the full length of the boat. The construction required superb craftsmanship that was usually reserved for custom boat builders. The effect of the rounded covering boards provided Chris-Craft’s custom runabouts with a very tasteful, modern appearance that was absolutely unique.

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 6

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Chris-Craft would offer nine runabout models in their 1941 production plan. However, just three of the runabouts, the 19-foot, 23-foot, and 27-foot models, were given the special designation of “custom” runabouts. The three custom runabouts would have all of the deluxe features, such as plush leather upholstery, six dashboard instruments, and deck-mounted trumpet horns.

The designated flagship of Chris-Craft’s 1941 fleet of custom runabouts was the triple cockpit 27-foot model. It featured the newly designed folding vee-windshield with attractive side-wing deflectors. This marvelously designed windshield was very distinctive and could be folded to provide those in the front seat the pleasant option of air flow on hot days, if desired.

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 3

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Recognizing the popular art deco trend that favored flowing curves, Chris-Craft’s stylists split the top portion of the cut water to flow into the stainless steel rub rails. This design feature emphasizes the roundness created at the top of the stem and continues over the full length of the boat to the transom. The rounded covering boards blend perfectly into the curvature of the barreled transom. The result forms a beautifully designed hull that is a triumph of craftsmanship and tasteful modern design.

Shortly after the 1941 pleasure boat production was underway, pressure to fulfill their military contracts ahead of schedule was being felt. As a result, only three 27-foot custom runabouts were built during their limited 1941 production. The three custom runabouts were hull numbers 27056, 27060, and this example, number 27061. They were shipped from the Chris-Craft factory to owners in three states, New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

As a result, the 1941 27-foot Chris-Craft Custom Runabout has always been recognized as one of the extremely rare and most sought-after models in their custom runabout fleet. This example, which was originally delivered to Massachusetts, is believed to have only two owners since new and was recently restored by Doug Morin, a renowned restorer of antique boats, in Bay City, Michigan.

Runaway Jane has been re-powered with the 300-horsepower, 8.2-liter Mercruiser engine, which allows this well-designed hull to achieve even greater performance than with its original A-120 Chris-Craft powerplant. The original 27-foot custom runabout hull was improved on during its 10 years of production. Chris-Craft factory records indicate that, in total, sixty-two 27-foot runabout hulls were built over the 10-year production run. Ten of these hulls were specifically identified as “race boat” models. The production numbers indicate that during the 27-foot custom runabout’s 10-year production run, their average output was fewer than six boats per year.

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 5

Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

The early 27-foot custom runabouts by Chris-Craft in this series received regular upgrades and refinements that lead to the advanced styling treatment that produced the elegant design features present in the 1941 model. Runaway Jane is a very rare model from the world’s largest builder of mahogany pleasure boats. – RM Auctions _________________________

Lot 150
1930 Chris-Craft 26′ Model 111 Runabout “Muse”
Auction estimate: $220,000 – $260,000
Hull no. 10072
250 bhp, 824 cu. in. Chris-Craft A-120 V-8 engine.
Length: 26 ft.

•Finest American watercraft built for the who’s who
•Expertly restored and presented
•Multi-award winner

Wayne Davis Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 5

Wayne Davis Photo – Courtesy RM Auctions

Many of the boats of the 1920s and 1930s were purchased by famous people, or at the very least highly successful ones. Chris-Craft would even tout the owners of their boats in period advertising, as their crafts were carried as tenders on some of the most lavish yachts of the day. Those owners included Alfred Sloan, Frederick Fisher, Vincent Astor, Frank V. DuPont, William Randolph Hearst, Edsel Ford, and K. Lee Guinness.

Wayne Davis Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 1

Wayne Davis Photo – Courtesy RM Auctions

Also included amongst that list of Chris-Craft owners was Charles S. Pearce. In 1928, Colgate and Palmolive-Peet Corporations merged, and Pearce was named its president. He also served as the president of the International Cellucotton Company. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1900, he became an active alumnus and served as a trustee of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), along with the president of the Pullman Corporation and former Wisconsin Governor Walter J. Kohler. WARF provided funding to commercialize ideas developed through the university, including Warfarin, the most commonly prescribed oral anticoagulant drug in North America. Pearce’s office was located on the 37th floor of the Palmolive Building in Chicago, one of the most prominent buildings in the city.

Wayne Davis Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 2

Wayne Davis Photo – Courtesy RM Auctions

Charles Pearce also enjoyed his recreational time in northern Wisconsin, on Red Cedar Lake, near Birchwood. On May 26, 1930, Chris-Craft Corporation shipped this Model 111 Runabout, hull number 10072, to Wisconsin through the Wilson and Richardson Dealership in Chicago. Hull 10072, the 72nd 26-foot Runabout built in 1930, was equipped with a Chris-Craft A-120 250-horsepower, 824-cubic inch V-8 engine and a 19×24-inch propeller. Green leather upholstery was specified, as was as a Loraine spotlight. Pearce’s Runabout carried the name “Muse” right from the factory.

Wayne Davis Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 4

Wayne Davis Photo – Courtesy RM Auctions

Mr. Pearce enjoyed the boat for several years, but as time and progress marched on, Muse eventually concluded her useful life as a “yard boat” in southern Illinois. She was later discovered there and moved to Minnesota, where she passed through several subsequent owners. Muse was purchased by her current owner in 2004 and then placed in the capable hands of Nelson Boatworks in Minnetrista, Minnesota.

There, she underwent an extensive examination of restoration work that had already been completed, which included a new bottom and the addition of new decks and transom. The original hull sides were in remarkable condition and kept original. The Model 111 was finished, prepped, and detailed with an eye toward the show circuit. The original green leather upholstery was re-created by Rod Souza in California, and the instruments were restored by Mark Clawson. She also received a jaunty Dietrich convertible roadster top. Included in the sale of this craft are a custom-built tandem axle trailer and two full mooring covers.

While her original A-120 engine was lost to history, Muse has been fitted with a correct-type A-120 engine that was originally installed in hull number 10057. The engine was restored by Long Island Boat Shop in New York, an engine builder noted for the restoration of rare marine engines. It has most recently been serviced, tuned, and water-tested by Freedom Boat Service, and it carries the original and desirable twin-carburetor fitment.

Wayne Davis Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 3

Wayne Davis Photo – Courtesy RM Auctions

Since restoration, this stunning Runabout has been shown to the delight of wooden boat aficionados. She has been awarded Best of Show at Keels and Wheels in Seabrook, Texas; Where It All Began in Algonac, Michigan (held at the original Chris-Craft factory); the Les Cheneaux Antique Wooden Boat Show in Hessel, Michigan; and the BSLOL Rendezvous on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.

Wayne Davis Photo Courtesy RM Auctions - 6

Wayne Davis Photo – Courtesy RM Auctions

This beautifully presented Muse is sure to inspire its next owner for years to come. – RM Auctions

BLENHEIM, Ontario (September 5, 2014) – RM Auctions will reaffirm its reputation as the specialist for private collections, October 9 – 10, when it lifts the gavel on two prominent North American collections at its annual Hershey, Pennsylvania sale. Celebrating the passions and collecting philosophies of John Moir Jr. and Jeffrey Day, the two collections lead an impressive roster of more than 160 automobiles, two classic wooden boats and select memorabilia slated for the RM Hershey podium.

To learn more about the 2014 RM Hershey sale, to sign up to bid, to review the digital catalog or watch the event live you can Click Here to go directly to the great RM Auctions website.

Happy Bidding!


22 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    It is interesting to me to see the value placed on the ’41 with modern power.

    I will be interested to see how the final gavel closes. That should make a loud statement about how the hobby is feeling about their engine choices.

    Of course there is always someone for every boat, just hope they are in Hershey at the time.

    • Greg Wallace
      Greg Wallace says:

      The final drop of the gavel will be a strong indicator of the 1941’s value with modern power. The offset in price compared to one with original power may ,however, be mitigated by the fact that this Hull is “one of one”. It is the only “true” model 115 built. The other (#27056) was a “left over” 1940 model hull sold as a 115 with 41 hardware. The remaining true 41 hull was a model 116 Spl Race boat , similar in shape and style but dimensionally different. This is the only known “true” 41 styled 27 in existence and the only one of its type ever built. I look forward to the results.

  2. 72hornet
    72hornet says:

    I have had the pleasure of seeing Muse up close and personal. It is a fabulous boat and will certainly not disappoint!

  3. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    If you go, be sure and take in the Hershey candy museum and if they still offer plant tours, take that one too….and be sure and register early so you can stay in that quaint old hotel.They treat you quite well.The Milton Hershey school program is also interesting if you have time for it…

  4. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    I can’t help but wonder if the third 1941 27′ triple that was shipped to Michigan was “Flyin High”, owned by the late Bud Aikens, one of the founding fathers of our Michigan Chapter. Matt and Texx will remember the boat from our 2012 Algonac show. Although Bud passed away earlier that year, Flyin High was on the cover of the show program, and his family diplayed the boat at the show as a tribute to him.

    • Greg Wallace
      Greg Wallace says:

      Although not the last hull built, Bud’s was the last 27 to ship from Chris Craft. His hull#27056 was built during the 1940 production run and to 1940 hull specs. For reasons unknown this hull did not deliver until the other 2 1941 design hulls #s 60 and 61 were built and shipped. His was a 1940 hull design with a 1941 hardware set and model designation. Another one of one.

  5. shawn
    shawn says:

    The Muse is a beautiful boat! If they can’t sell it…I would be willing to tow it around America for them….I think my tow vehicle would be a perfect fit!

  6. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    Everyone should go to Hershey once in their lives. It is truly an amazing experience, beyond just cars and parts. I walked almost all of it over four very long days a few years ago. Was rewarded by finding probably the only classic boat related hardware from a 50’s Chris Craft Continental.

  7. Bo
    Bo says:

    I missed the posting about the 1941 27′ runabout. The history has been lost so I will fill in what I can. This boat was a ride boat at Canobie Lake Park in NH. It sold to lake Sunapee in the late 50’s. It was sold to Winnepesaukee in the late 60’s and then repurchaced to Lake Sunapee in the early 80’s. I maintained the boat for two subsequent owners on Sunapee until it was sold to Georgia. Under the front deck in grease pencil it says “Racing Run #61. Glad to see it again.

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