Is There, An Official Date When A Boat Is Pre War, Or Post War?

So this US ARMY U22 is very cool, is it a pre war, post war or During the war? Note the cool winshield, and HUGE search light.. And no babes! Whats that all about..

So this US ARMY U22 is very cool, is it a pre – war, post war or During the war? Note the cool windshield, and HUGE search light.. And no babes! Whats that all about? Come on bring Darla into this photo.. Wave like your kinda happy to be out there dodging mines.

It’s common knowledge that our beloved antique and classic boats fall into two categories. Pre War and Post War. The war being WWII, the big one, the one to end all wars. Maybe we won the battle on that idea.. Anyway.. It dawned on me last night while trying to figure out what we could talk about today, or this weekend that hasn’t been covered before. PT Boats, Landing crafts. So it hit me.. Is there an official date, day, specific time when a boat is a pre war or post war? And, who decided that? Is it an ACBS judging thing?  Is the term Antique which is the designated term for pre war make sense VS Classic which is the term for post war..

Are all boats classified this way?

Are all boats classified this way?

With fiberglass classic being introduced into our world, does this all still make sense.. Should they be classified as during wood and post wood. I really don’t know. But thought if you are not out on a boat this weekend, you pathetic thing, then you may want to argue with some one on Woody Boater over the semantics of names! And so it goes.

A stunning Pre war antique U22

A stunning Pre war antique U22

30 replies
  1. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    In the recent course of doing some work on this topic for the ACBS, I have become informed as to the history of the classes.

    The two world wars were chosen as a demarcation point for the classification of boats many years ago by the ACBS due to the changes in boat design that occurred immediately after each conflict. Prior to WWl, most boats were slender displacement launches or similar hull types. Pre-WW1 boats are known as “Historic”. Fairly quickly after the Great War, smaller recreational boats evolved into planing hulls and runabouts, and of course small but usable outboards began to slowly appear.

    After WWll, recreational boating fully evolved from runabouts into almost entirely the utility style, and of course hull and interior materials also began to change. Outboard boats soon arrived en masse. It seemed like the war’s and attributable technological developments in hull design and especially improved engines after WWl led to new approaches in the design of recreational water craft.

    When the ACBS was formed in 1975, the founders focussed on boats of prior to WWll vintage, as at that point such boats were a minimum of 33 tears old and it seemed an obvious break point. It did not have much if anything to do with judging – it was design and technology changes that drove it all. This soon changed to include post-WWll boats.

    Because of this, I think the current classification system for the early boats makes sense today and always will – time may pass but the design and other changes which were precipitated by technological advances and changing consumer preferences at the time following each war are indelible and fairly clear.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      The break points in the eras may always make sense, but terms like antique and classic have a meaning relative to the observer and will change. My great grand children will view a post war Riviera runabout as equally antique as a pre-war barrel back. Both will be over 100 years old and neither will fit in with the classic designs from the 2020’s and 2030’s.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Pre-war would be up to December 8th, 1941 when Rosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war. One could also argue for December 7th.

    Post war is less of an issue. One might go with August 14th, 1945 (announcement of surrender) or September 2, 1945, the official signing, but I don’t think there were a lot of wooden pleasure boats built in those 2 1/2 weeks.

    Anything in between would be a war boat.

    The antique vs classic delineation at the war is simply stupid. Classic should be defined as a certain number of years from the present. 35 at minimum, more like 40 if to ask me. Antique is commonly used to define collectibles in excess of 100 years old. An antique boat to me is a pre WWI steam launch or maybe a 1890’s Chris Smith duck boat. Calling a 1940 boat antique is quite rude to the people who were born in the 20’s and 30’s and who are still with us and still boating.

    • Doug P
      Doug P says:

      Pre War and post war are terms that are commonly used. ACBS classifies a boat historic that is “built up to and including 1918”.
      Antique: a boat built between 1919 and 1942, inclusive. and,
      Classic 1943 and 1975.

      Now what is a boat built in Canada, Britain, France and other countries where WWII was 1939 to 1945, or even Argentina who was in the war only for a few months.

      • Paul H.
        Paul H. says:

        Us Canucks’s joined the fray’s at the outset of each as part of the British Commonwealth, but in speaking for myself, I think we can fall in line with the yank-based dates. It ain’t rocket science….

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      One may argue the nomeclature is inappropriate or is at least prone to subjective interpretation, but the reasoninig behind demarcating these distinctive eras (pre WWl, between wars, post WWll) in design and materials is rather less subject to interpreative variance. The names may change but the difference in boats of these distinct periods does need to be articulated. I do not agree that boats from the begining until say 1946 or whatever year should fall into a single amorphous category. Classic’s are now 1946-1975 and early-contemporary is 1976-1989. That is being looked at, because the term “contemporary” has a clear meaning that denotes a proximity in time (“contemporary” architecture excluded). WWll was closer to 1976 then we are to that year today, so the application of the word “contemporary” to boats of that era becomes less apprpropriate with each passing year.

      • The Cobourg Kid
        The Cobourg Kid says:

        Unless you care about judged events and awards (I personally don’t) its of no importance what “class” your boat falls in to What is important is that you know and celebrate your boat’s own unique history and have fun with it..

        Sometimes I think that ACBS central spends too much time concentrating on the former and hardly any on the latter.

    • The Cobourg Kid
      The Cobourg Kid says:

      Sorry M but your definition of the end of the pre-war period being December 8th, 1941 “when Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war” may be appropriate for the US Memorial Day holiday but its unfortunately several years off the mark .

      This oft used statement is unfortunately a significant sore spot with Canadians and folks from the many other countries that ultimately comprised the first wave of Allied Forces in WWII.

      Not to put too fine a point on it but the Second World War actually began two years previous to your suggested date with the German invasion of Poland on Sept 1 1939

      Almost immediately thereafter Britain, France Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a whole host of British and French colonies and dependencies declared war on the Nazi Third Reich .

      All of the above is irrelevant however, as the designs of recreational boats and building techniques (in my opinion) changed little until 1946 when civilian production was resumed and new designs and technologies ,developed and refined as a consequence of the war, were adopted for commercial production… as this Elco ad demonstrates

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        You are correct in that I should have limited my statement to the US manufacturers, Chris Craft, hacker, Garwood etc.

        The start of hostilities for European, Asian and Commonwealth states was certainly earlier. Other than Canada, I don’t think any of them were producing a lot of pleasure boats in 1940 and 1941 to worry about the distinction.

  3. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Pre-war is when you’re searching for the perfect boat and definitely before you bring it home.

    Post-war is when the wife finally starts talking to you again and acknowledges that you’ve gotten another boat.

  4. Jordan Heath
    Jordan Heath says:

    ROFL…I had the once in a lifetime experience when the wife wanted the boat but the husband thought it was too much of a project. It’s a 1950 Riviera ’20 and I still have it. Now where can I find a woman like that?

  5. donald hardy
    donald hardy says:

    How about when the factories stopped for civilian production in 1942, pre war. Then, went into war production, then stopped war production in 1945 and went back to civilian production? Is this the true line of distinction?

  6. TommyHolm
    TommyHolm says:

    I agree with Donald hardy, it’s when the mfg stop production and then started again. Boats are dated when the keel s laid, not finished. Of course some mfg., like Lyman continued production during the WWII as they were classified as fishing boats and Lyman was allowed to build such commercial boats during the war. As a side note this is one reason why Lyman was able to switch to pleasure production quicker than most. Resulting in Lyman being the most produced early post war boats.

  7. Doug P
    Doug P says:

    Year of construction maybe quite complicated.
    Such as a hull built by one company and completed by another and sold under their name, or a boat that is made over several years. USCG tends to take the date as first titled. (CG 1261). Correct me if I am wrong but in the case of Chris Craft I have heard some pre 1942 boats were stored and sold after the war as 1946’s

  8. Doug Powles
    Doug Powles says:

    As it is a weekend we recognize the military and we are talking WWII boats. I would like to pay tribute to my Dad.
    He was in the RCN (Royal Canadian Navy) and crossed the North Atlantic 17 times and twice on the Murmansk run.


  9. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    An interesting topic and discussion today. It’s based on what a group of vintage boat enthusiasts resolved in determining what words to use to distinguish one vintage and another. As Paul mentioned, styles and construction methods took on their largest changes following the periods that the USA was involved in world-wide conflict. The first organization to take on the effort to, and to implement incentive to preserve the history of vintage boating was the ACBS in 1975.

    The used Classic, Antique and Historic as words, possibly in lieu of dates or words such as Old, Older and Oldest.

  10. Texx
    Texx says:

    Where do or at what point are wooden reproduction boats (such as Hackercraft, Garwood, Fish Brothers, etc) classified by the ACBS?

    More and more reproduction boats are appearing at classic boat shows around the country and many are now old enough that they are even being restored. “Late Contemporary” or…?

    • Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
      Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

      Texx: Another issue with this class is the fact that my 1957 Sears Kit Boat is classified with them. I never understood how that could possibly be fair.

  11. The Cobourg Kid
    The Cobourg Kid says:

    Goes back to my original comment …do we really need classifications. at boat shows… O Yah I forgot! It’s all about awards and trophy’s and such … “got ta git me some O that”.

    Really? Something I saw on a ol rat rod once seems more apropos … “Paint? ….We don’t need no stinkin paint” .

  12. Jack Gould
    Jack Gould says:

    I am under the impression that the cutoff point for pre-war and post-war boats is based on either when a manufacturer began 100% wartime production or actually stopped production due to the war.

    For Chris Craft, the last date of pleasure craft production was Friday, July 31, 1942. Boats produced prior to that date would be antiques and classics after pleasure craft production began again in 1947.

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