“Hornet” To Cross The Block Thursday Evening At RM Auction’s Annual Hershey Sale

The elegant 28' Gar Wood in action - Photo courtesy Wayne Davis / Freedom Boat Service - RM Auctions  SOLD!

The elegant 28′ Gar Wood in action – Photo courtesy Wayne Davis / Freedom Boat Service – RM Auctions


The final countdown to RM Auction’s annual Hershey Sale is now under way. This year’s sale will be held October 10-11 (Thursday – Friday) at the Hershey Lodge in Pennsylvania, during the historic AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Eastern Regional Fall Meet.

The huge two-day sale features 116 vehicles, with an emphasis on Brass and Classic Era motor cars, led by a rare, award-winning 1933 Chrysler CL Imperial Convertible Roadster. Born just a year after “Hornet” (the 1932 Gar Wood Triple), it’s fun to see a perfect example of what folks were driving to the lake in the early 30’s. (You can click on all of today’s images to enlarge them)

2 - Photo Credit Nidermaier Pictures LLC 2013

Lot 238 – 1933 Chrysler CL Imperial Convertible Roadster by LeBaron – Photo by Nidermaier Pictures LLC 2013


1 - Photo Credit Nidermaier Pictures LLC 2013

Elegant 1933 Chrysler Imperial hood ornament – Photo by Nidermaier Pictures LLC 2013

Amongst the cars at this year’s sale is a rare wooden speed boat. Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service is in Hershey with “Hornet” – a Scripps V-12 powered 1932 Gar Wood 28’ Triple Cockpit Runabout. During the auction, “Hornet” will be on display in the ballroom of the Hershey Lodge, right next to the action for everyone to see and appreciate. Here is the extensive description of “Hornet” from the RM Auctions digital catalog. – Texx

1932 Gar Wood 28′ Triple Cockpit Runabout “Hornet”
Engine no. 17616 Scripps marine V-12. Length: 28 ft.

• One of only seven produced in 1932
• Beautifully restored to show standards
• Multiple-award winner, including Best of Show

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Photo courtesy Wayne Davis / Freedom Boat Service – RM Auctions

Garfield Arthur Wood was one of America’s original “rock star industrialists.” He built a successful enterprise out of inventing and carefully patenting the hydraulic mechanism to lift the beds of dump trucks. World War I increased demand for the devices, as army trucks building and repairing roads under enemy fire were able to deposit their loads quickly and then get out of harm’s way. As a result, Wood became a very wealthy man.

In 1916, Wood began to indulge his dream and passion of dominating powerboat racing by purchasing Miss Detroit, the 1915 Gold Cup winner, from the association that sponsored her. This began a six-year boat-building partnership between Wood and Chris Smith, of Chris-Craft, which would change racing on the water forever.

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The beautiful interior and dash board – Photo courtesy Wayne Davis / Freedom Boat Service – RM Auctions

Personally involved in the design and construction of his race boats, Wood’s attention to detail showed. He won the Gold Cup from 1917 through to 1921, at which time the rules committee outlawed the use of aero engines in an attempt to lessen Wood’s all-out domination of the sport! Disillusioned by this development, he decided to pursue racing on the international stage, and he did so in typical Gar Wood style. His capture of the International Harmsworth Trophy in 1920 began an unprecedented string of annual Harmsworth victories.

Wood also moved into production of boats. After World War I, he acquired 4,500 surplus Liberty V-12 engines from various manufacturers and formed the Detroit Marine-Aero Engine Company to convert them to marine use. These were used in the 33-foot “Baby Gar” runabouts, which were hand-built for the wealthy few that could afford a boat that cost three times the price of an average American three-bedroom home. From this rather unplanned beginning, Gar Wood Inc. had a major impact on pleasure boating in America, as it built some of the best-engineered, best-built, and most beautiful watercraft ever made. Boatbuilding was a personal passion for Gar Wood, and his other endeavors allowed him the financial freedom to build boats in the quality and with the attention to detail for which he was known.

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The amazing Scripps V-12 marine engine – Photo courtesy Wayne Davis / Freedom Boat Service – RM Auctions

The Triple Cockpit Runabout offered here was produced in 1932, which, being the worst year of the Great Depression, was not a great year for building wooden boats. Only 64 Gar Wood crafts were produced that year, which was fewer than the number of 28-foot hulls alone that were built in 1930. This example is one of only seven 28-foot runabouts produced in 1932, and it is one of five that are known to survive today.

This boat was purchased by the late Gerry Pederson, a noted collector, as an appropriate craft to mate with a very early Scripps V-12 engine in his collection. That engine was installed following an extensive restoration by Doug Morin, and it still remains in the boat today. “Hornet” has seen very little use since restoration, but it has benefited from extensive, recent engine tuning by Freedom Engine Service. It was campaigned actively on the show circuit in 2013, where it won Best Runabout Over 20 Feet and Best in Show at the Michigan Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, Skipper’s Choice at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum Show, and Best Gar Wood at the Gull Lake, Minnesota, show.

Beautifully restored with ample power, this is an ideal addition to any enthusiast’s boathouse.

Please note that the custom-built triple-axle trailer pictured is included with this lot.

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“Hornet’s” gleaming varnished mahogany – Photo courtesy Wayne Davis / Freedom Boat Service – RM Auctions

To learn more about the RM Auction Annual Hershey Sale or to register as an on-line bidder, you can check out their great website by Clicking Here, and to browse through the impressive digital catalogue Click Here.

The auction will stream live online Thursday and Friday evening at www.RMAuctions.com – We will post the results of the auction here as soon as they are available on Thursday evening.


13 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    If I call in really really early with the 1st bid (of like $500) I can I least tell people that I was high bidder at one point but sadly lost out.

  2. rabbit
    rabbit says:

    My son and I had the pleasure of a ride in Hornet with Dave on Lake Minnetonka last month. It’s a magnificent machine. I
    hope it gets the kind of bids it deserves.

  3. Carla from Hagerty
    Carla from Hagerty says:

    She is spectacular! I thoroughly enjoyed my ride in her at Gull Lake this year. Thanks Dave and Michelle!

  4. Coop
    Coop says:

    Hornet is a great testament to the beautiful restoration work done by Morin Boats. I believe this restoration was done in 2002 for Gerry Pederson a great guy who is missed dearly. It won ACBS Antique Classic Boat of the year in 2003. It has stood the test of time, what a Beautiful Boat!

  5. 72hornet
    72hornet says:

    I had the pleasure of riding in Hornet back in 2005. Wow, what a boat! Anxious to see how the auction goes!

  6. Coop
    Coop says:

    Wow, what a shame, just did a thorough inspection of the 28′ Gar Wood for a friend that planned on bidding on the boat this evening. To see a boat of this caliber brought to auction with the extensive keel damage it has is troubling to say the least. This had to have been done over a period of time, to chew up an epoxy bottom back to bare wood, and no attempt to fix it! Bidder beware!

  7. Capt. Mark
    Capt. Mark says:

    In August, Dave let my wife and I drive the Hornet on Gull Lake. Impressive boat! Congratulations on the outcome of the auction Dave. We watched the bidding live on the internet last night.
    (I shot the attached photo of the Hornet’s dash while approaching the docks at Bar Harbor during the Gull Lake Classic Boat Show.)

  8. 'Bone Daddy' Deems
    'Bone Daddy' Deems says:

    If you think about it…not really a bad price for this wonderful craft considering the asking price of the new woody runabouts (Stancrafts and Couers) being sold here in Coeur d Alene, Idaho. The rarity, the elegance of this beauty…WOW!

  9. Mr. G. A. Wood
    Mr. G. A. Wood says:

    Hey Texx (and Matt), the price paid for this boat was nearly $400,000, not the $360,000 you’re reporting. There’s a 10% buyer’s premium added to the final hammer price. This brings the result, as officially reported by RM, up to $396,000, which would be the actual price paid by the buyer.

  10. David & Barbara
    David & Barbara says:

    We saw the Hornet on 6/27/14 arrive and moor just a couple slips away from us in the Mackanac Island harbor. We both knew it was a once in a lifetime viewing. Amazing boat!

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