Mitch LaPointe, Hands Down The Barn Find King Of The Classic Boat Universe


How does Mitch do it? Mitch LaPointe (Not him in photo) has found some of the sweetest original barn finds, including an amazing 1941 Barrel Back in all org condition featured in all the magazines and here on WoodyBoater. So its of no surprise that he has pull out another. Here is his story in his own words. And its for sale of course.
1953 35 ‘ Chris Craft Commander Barn Find!
It is getting harder to find nice cruisers, so I was excited to find this one tucked away in an old building in Milwaukee, where it had been sitting for about 25 years. It was resting on a shipping cradle, which was mounted on a strange-looking trailer with 10 flat tires. It had been raining a lot in Wisconsin, and everything was muddy and sloppy all around the building. I couldn’t get my truck in there, so we used a front-end loader to get the boat out. The front loader got stuck of course, and it took us half a day to get the boat out of the building. The next day, two service trucks came to fix the tires, but they couldn’t get a jack under the trailer, because it was sitting too low with all the tires flat. The first front loader was no longer around, so I found a local farmer with another very large loader. We hooked the tongue of the trailer to my truck, and the loader picked up the back of the trailer so we could get the tires off. It took all day to fix the old tires and tow the boat to a marina. Once there, we transferred her to a nice new trailer. I managed to haul her back to Minnesota without picking up any tickets, so all-in-all, it was a pretty good trip.

Original upholstery and original factory finish on most of the boat. The sofa converts to bunk beds and the dinette converts to another bed. The galley features a fridge that operates on shore-power and a propane stove. Note the photo of the mahogany box that holds the propane tank. Modern head, factory-installed binnacle (compass), factory-installed auto-pilot and original instruments. Twin “M” 130 hp engines turn over by hand. I have not tried starting the engines, as there are no batteries in the boat and the tank has old gas in it. Click Here to see the boat

5 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I saw this on his site the other day, and I had the same thought – how does he find these things? This is a great looking boat, and well deserving of being put back into use. However, see problem discussed in your Friday blog.

    What would it cost to do this boat properly, and what would it be worth once done? I think it is a beautifully styled boat and it sure could be a great user. But – what would one be getting into as far as restoration? Engines, wiring, bottom, frames. +++? Too many unknowns. But if you love these boats, how many more chances like this will you be likely to get? The size of this boat just makes the cost problem even more acute.

    It will have to be a labor of love for someone with the dedication and/or means to mitigate the probable value/cost deficit. That said, I sure hope someone takes it on.


  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    This 1953, 35' Commander is built on the same hull as the first 1949, 34' Commander. It grew by lengthening the bow by only 8". This one is amazingly preserved. The bright work was no doubt protected from the the effects of UV rays by being stored indoors for years. She looks to be very sound in outward appearance but probably needs some bottom work before she could be put back in use.

    What is she worth? I would say every bit as much as Mitch is asking. She's a rare find and may be in better original condition than any 34' or 35' Commander in existance. Paul's reply is, unfortunately too accurate though. Unless Mitch can find the one person who becomes obsessed with this beautiful classic cruiser and commits to be her stewart for the next few years and has the budget to boot, she may begin to loose her beautiful appearance quickly and become yet another sad statistic.

  3. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    What an incredible find! The asking price doesn't seem too far out of line either. The cost to keep these old girls alive isn't as bad as everyone cries about. You don't have to go right out and do a complete restoration right away. You can do the work yourself a bit at a time. With a boat like this one it might surprise you as to how little work is needed to make her useable. The biggest obstacles would be finding time and finding a marina that is wood boat friendly.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    great boat! i am building a dumas kit of one of these and the photos will help in finishing it…very nice

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Lots of people knew of the boat. Problem is it was a small tree in a big forest. When you walked in to the barn you were attracted to one of the large triples or the 38' Chris-Craft Commuter or the Robinson commuter or maybe the bulldozer with the Packard engine. It all belonged to Brian WIlburn. Brian had collected boats all his life. Years ago he would run ads with half-dozen triples trying to sell some and keep some. He even had a 26' Continental twin. Someone dumped it in his yard on April fools day.
    The commander was the ugly duckling. It sat unwanted as everything else was sold off.
    Unfortunately Brian Passed away a couple weeks ago. I'm pretty sure the Commander was free or close to it just to empty the building

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