The Andrew J – An Amazing 1948 Higgins 26′ Deluxe Sedan Cruiser Barn Find


The 2011 ACBS International Meetings and Show on Lake Geneva showcased a number of remarkable antique & classic boats this year. One particular boat stood out for me, a freshly restored 1948 Higgins 26′ Deluxe Sedan Cruiser named “The Andrew J” after it’s designer Andrew Jackson Higgins.

Her proud owner Jeff Oppenheimer from Indianapolis invited us aboard and, with camera in hand, gave us the “Grand Tour” of this magnificent restored Higgins. For her first judged show since being restored by Dan Nelson, Jeff prepared a sign board which nicely describes the boat, as follows… (Don’t forget you can also enlarge the photos in this story by clicking on them)

Jeff wrote: “The Andrew J” is the only Higgins 1948 26′ Deluxe Sedan Cruiser known to exist. The number produced of this year and model is obscure because a hurricane wiped out most of those records back in the late 1940’s and Katrina struck the final blow.

“The Andrew J” was found in a barn in Oklahoma back in 2005. Contact was made with the award-winning restorer Dan Nelson of Nelson Boatworks to appraise this fine craft and the determination was made to begin restoration in 2007. She was just completed and this is her first formal judged outing.

Higgins Industries was founded in New Orleans by Andrew Jackson Higgins. The company flourished in the mid 1940’s, 1950’s and early 1960’s building painted plywood pleasure and work boats enhanced with mahogany transoms and mahogany accented interiors.

Higgins Industries is especially famous for their WWII and Korean War efforts in producing military craft for the Marines, Coast Guard and the Navy. Their most notable wartime craft are the famous PR Boats and the LCVP Landing Craft as exhibited in the movie “Saving Private Ryan”, while they landed on the beaches of Normandy.

“The Andrew J’s” name was sanctioned by Dawn Higgins Murphy, Andrew Jackson Higgins’ daughter, who still lives down by New Orleans to this day with her husband Bob.

The interior is well laid out and spaciousfor a small cruiser. I liked the cool cabin seating arrangement that easily turned into some sleeping quarters as shown below – Texx

There are only about 200 Higgins pleasure boats remaining and a small handful of military craft.

Please enjoy with us our history and our love for these rare and unique classic wood boats. They are truly unique and full of history.

Jeff Oppenheimer – Owner and VP – Higgins Classic Boats Association

Jeff also commented – The book ANDREW JACKSON HIGGINS AND THE BOATS THAT WON WWII is a GREAT resource to learn more about Andrew Jackson Higgins and Higgins Industries. Jerry Strahan has done a wonderful job detailing the inside story of this great man and the people behind the scenes. A must read… Also visit our website at or by clicking here.  The Higgins Classic Boats website is packed with information on all things Higgins, take a few minutes and check it out.

Thanks Jeff for sharing your beautiful Higgins with us here at Woody Boater, and for everyone to enjoy. She is certainly a unique, one of a kind wooden boat.


8 replies
  1. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Beautiful job on a great boat! The color selection and level of finish are right on.

    I have a real fondness for plywood cruisers. I grew up (some would debate that) in a 1954 21′ Bryant Voyager, and have a couple of plywood boats at this time.

    It can be argued that plywood boats are the rarest of the classics, not because of production numbers, but because plywood is a wonderful boatbuilding material until it gets wet…

    Keep ’em dry and stiff, and they are a real pleasure to play with. Light, strong and stylish, relatively easy to repair, they definately have a place in the collectable boat world.

    It’s a pleasure to see these boats saved.

  2. Jeff Oppenheimer
    Jeff Oppenheimer says:

    Hello Texx…I left a note on the Quincy article for Al. Thanks so much for a great job on the feature of The Andrew J. It was great visiting with you up in Lake Geneva and chatting with all the folks who stopped by to learn more about her and the history of Higgins pleasure boats. I met so many people in Lake Geneva and they shared the same passion as you do for her. It was very humbling as is your fine work here. Thank you again and I look forward to the next time we meet.

    WoodBoater rocks!!

    Warm regards,


  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I just loved this cool little cruiser when I saw her at Geneva. Such an unlikey restoration candidate and just so functional, but totally cool as well. Jeff was so passionate and insightful about his boat and the documentation and information he presented was very interesting. I was drawn to this one when I first glimpsed her from across the show.

  4. Texx
    Texx says:

    Thanks Jeff – Your Higgins is a magnificent piece of history and the way it was respectully restored is what makes it so special to us here at Woody Boater.

    Art on the water…

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    Awesome pics Texx. Kudos.

    Now I’m off to buy a Happy Higgins Day card for da wife. Good thing your banner reminded me of the occasion. She woulda killed me if I’d forgotten.

Comments are closed.