Observations On Four Decades Of Boats


The barn

I noticed the other day that somehow I own 4 decades of boats. As in a 1968, 1958, 1948, and 1937 but they made the same boat in 1938. Would have been cool if it was a 1938.. It’s interesting to see the evolution and enjoyment that each bring.

It’s a Pre War During a war? Post war?

We refer to our boats as Pre War and Post War. But there are really more undefined ways to think of our boats. Pre Mass Production, and Mass Produced, Transition Boats, those boats made when fiberglass was starting to come into the world.
Color boats, when designers were bored with boats all being the same varnish color.

Phil Andrews with Jara from Katzs Marina and his Blue Arabian.

The car years.. different lessons learned with safety and boats being used a lot. Also sales, what sold. no point in making a fantastic boat if it doesn’t sell. We see this in new car lots today. Silver and black, grey boring box cars sell. oh sure the lime green Camaro will be worth more in later years but right now its concreted to the showroom floor.

Stinky, back when she ran, with her sharp bow and round stern

1948, 1953 shared the same attitude of bow design and basic feel.

Then there is bow design, it seems like we went from a dead drop cut in the 20’s and 30’s with a softening in the fourties to a just round soft bow in the late 40’s and into the 50’s and then back to a sharp bow with a slight flair as the decade of Woodys Came to a sad end.

George Coppola won Exhibitor’s Choice Antique with his 1939 Chris Craft 19’ barrelback “Intuition”. She has a Model M 130hp engine. – Sharp bow!

Sylvia 1940 Just one year later with a rounded bow

1960 design. More simple, clean lines and a more forward movement in bow design – Photo Classic Boating. Scarlet

And now the 1960’s which seem to just blend into the late 1970’s

No granted, this is a different style boat. But the wood tone is different and still somewhat timeless to today. There are Grand banks Yachts running around that share the same Feeling.


And then there is the Timeless fun design of Aristo Craft boats. They are unique thus timeless, and they have kept the design details consistent for decades. This is a brand new design, and you know its an AristoCraft from a mile away. Amazing and not easy to do. I will wonder off topic now. BMW, Porsche and Mecedes all do this. Its VERY sophisticated design standards and tell a story of control, and quality. It also helps resale since age is kind to timeless design.

Alex Watsons Grand Prix is one of the last Wood Boats Chris Craft ever made, with a 427 next to two 25 Sportsman. The Apple green interior is a give away to an earlier model. Also not the rear seat set up vs the other one. Thats a Scripps engine set up. LOVE that boat

Even in Plastic you know its a Chris Craft, but stuff started to all look the same around this time. Alex Watsons XK 19


18 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Some of the late prewar designs carried on into the early post war. The Red and White Express Cruisers would be an example. Beautiful design!

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I think what you are missing in your collection (and this story) is the ICONIC “Bull Nose”.

    I know some don’t care for them, but I think they define the late 50’s Chris-Crafts.

  3. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo says:

    We could also mention the “Bullnose” bow design from the mid-fifties, a unique look.

  4. Bilgerat
    Bilgerat says:

    If you look at 4 decades of anything people have designed for the public; cars, aircraft, homes, hairstyles, clothing, bathing suits, the evolution from then to now is staggering. A combination of styling tastes, improvements in engineering and manufacturing, lessons learned in what works what doesn’t, and the public’s willing to purchase the designs. I think when something is said to be “ahead of it’s time”, it really means the public wouldn’t buy into it then, the product dropped from production only to be deemed “classic” at a much later date. Then these classic values skyrocket.

  5. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Matt, as always I’m here to help you. I have a perfect 1938 16’ Special Raceboat for you. Complete with DVN engine rebuild. Currently no name on the transom but I’m sure the seller would be happy to throw that in with the deal.

    I’ll start making shipping arrangements.

  6. Randy
    Randy says:

    Help, anyone from the decade of the late ’50’s.

    Know any good sources that can apply a hard molded rubber rim with finger grooves (on the backside) to a steering wheel frame???

    I pulled a wheel off that had one of the rim segments flopping around. I carefully cut the hard rubber around the rim and removed it, finding that one segment on the rim had rusted into (2) short pieces.

    I took the wheel frame in and they cut a complete 1/16″ thick circular rim and welded my 80% rim and (2) loose pieces onto the new rim. I picked it up today and temporarily slipped the old rubber back on. Since the rim is a bit thicker now the rubber does not close up completely where it was cut.

    I still need to get the rim chromed, but I thought if I could find someone who could apply a molded rim I would have them do both the chroming and molded rim. No one around here can do the hard rubber grip.

    Thanks for any possible leads.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Chad gave me an old wheel for my XK-19. He had previously cut the rubber grip that encircles the wheel. I removed the rubber and sent the wheel for rechroming. When it came back I put the rubber back on, then gave the wheel to an artist friend who filled the slit all the way around and filed it smooth. We then painted the original rubber and it’s filled seam to the original off white color. The wheel looks great. And the filled seam hasn’t reopened one bit. My only complaint is that painted rubber doesn’t feel the same as original well used rubber. But it’s a small price to pay to retain an original wheel. Repros are slightly thicker rimmed which is a bigger departure from what looks right. Hope this helps you.

      • Randy
        Randy says:

        Alex, thanks for your experience here — I had considered doing the same thing in regards to re-glueing the rubber back on (and filling the open seam with black 3M5200) after having the frame chromed. I think I can gain a bit more ‘room’ to close that gap by filing a smooth radius on both the top and bottom of the rim (cleaning it up a bit).

  7. Ronald
    Ronald says:

    Look in Hemmings in services offered, there is usually some steering wheel restorers in there. That looks somewhat similar to a dirt track sprint car steering wheel I think.

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      Yep, similar but they now come with a smaller hub and only a 3-bolt pattern. Trying to keep this ‘original’ wheel because of the historic value to the boat.

      Thanks — I will try Hemmings

  8. Charles J
    Charles J says:

    Anyone know what the brand/HP is on that outboard on the he Aristo Craft, that’s one big engine.

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      Here is a pic from the 2014 Dora show.

      Keep in mind that Scott is a master at putting old cowlings on new engines so I am not sure if this really is a Johnson.

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