The Cost Of Your Classic Boat Is Better Than The Cost Of Inflation! You,You….


Chris Craft Riviera – This one sold for 5 times inflation!

We here at Woody Boater are going to keep pounding away at this topic. It just sends me to the moon, when people take a snob shot at us. It also pains us when people talk about how buying a classic boat is a money hole! It’s not. And it aint nothing compared to a new boat. Not even close. We all know that if you buy a classic boat right, you can run it, keep in the shape you bought it in and most likely sell it for the same amount. Cant do that with a new boat, or even a newer used boat!

green back u22

But lets take it a step further. Lets take your boat. Lets say a 1948 22 Sportsman, NEW back in 1948 lets say it was $1,500 just guessing. But in todays dollars thats $15,400… OK, now look around and see if you can find a perfect like new one for $15K.. No chance in hell. More like $45K which means that over 60 years, your classic boat has gone up in value. If you had bought that boat back in 1948 and just parked it correctly it might even be worth more. This is most likely the case with most classic boats. You cant even say this about cars BTW. Sure some cars, bust think about it, most cars were crap family crappers, and boats are cool boats!

So quit the dam bitching about classic boats being a money pit, and Woody Boat people are an elite snooty crowd. You, You!


22 replies
  1. mike s
    mike s says:

    Retail price for a U-22 with an M engine in 1947 was $3090. Still not a bad investment with the conversion to today’s dollar. 30k is about what you would expect to pay for a pretty nice example, far less than getting one perfectly restored. But much more expensive than something like a 1970’s 23′ C-C Lancer which is a similar layout. Choices, choices.

    • Dave Nau
      Dave Nau says:

      To start, go with outboard boats. Less expensive to buy as many more were made, and if an motor dies, find another. Can always do inboards later.

      That said, it seems inboards hold their value better, with better appreciation chances. For me, I plan to stick with outboards. As others have said, so many ways to go. It’s all good.

  2. dreed
    dreed says:

    That reminds me to ask, is it best to have my polishing crew shine my boat using a mix of vinegar and water prior to a boat show?

  3. Paul
    Paul says:

    It is all relative. For most of us this is a hobby. I bought a ’59 Lyman for a couple Thousand dollars. Put a couple thousand in to it, Did most of the restoration myself . It is a cool old boat that no one else has and most everyone else wants. We don’t do any of this to make any one else but ourselves happy. If it was easy everyone would be cruising in old woodies.

  4. Dennis
    Dennis says:

    I agree with Paul “this is a Hobby” I got in to wood boats with my Sea Skiff for $2800 plus a $3000 trailer, and It is the pride of being a care taker of her. When the guys with $80,000 boat are slowing down on the lake and pointing to your boat to his other passengers. it is a great feeling. Plus the fact his boat will depreciate at least the amount that I bought my skiff for each year.

  5. Fred B
    Fred B says:

    Inflation. Bleh.
    The following statement is a gross oversimplification, but I’ve been saying it for decades:
    Everything’s gone up except wages.

  6. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I applaud Matt for harping on this, but the topic is irksome because so many terribly misinformed folk cling to the easily disabused notion of exclusivity and un-affordability in our hobby. This is despite numerous exhibits of contrary examples on display.

    Dan F. is right – if you can afford it, its’ affordable. Generalizations don’t really apply but we are talking about about a hobby, to which individuals hopefully apply discretionary or surplus funds. I can’t afford Riva AQ’s but I can afford Skiffs, so I don’t buy AQ’s – simple. Like there is an ass for every seat, there’s a boat for every budget.

    I’ll cite two recent examples and rest my case. I bought a show-ready 1940 18′ Port Carling SeaBird with fresh varnish, rebuilt engine, full cover, trailer and full documentation for $6000. The boat needs virtually nothing – save for possibly new lino on the floor if one is picky, as the recently installed vinyl shrunk a bit. This is turn key and needed nothing – pictures attached. There are cheaper boats available, but this was already done- for $6k!

    On the same day, my friends bought a PERFECT 15′ 1956 Lyman with a perfect 30HP Johnson on a perfect Teenee trailer for $5000. When I say perfect I mean perfect. It didn’t even need to be dusted, and had won the Best Lyman sponsors award at Dora in recent years.

    These were not special buys or available to us only through connections – the Port Carling was in the field of dreams lot at Sunnyland and the Lyman was in the Antique Boat America booth at the same show. We were able to buy these boats because we were the first on hand with a check – no other reason. There are cheaper boats but they’d likely need work, these need nothing.

    Hopefully the guy who’s comment the other day started this again has seen the light. As in every hobby there are levels and boating is no different. The only generalization to make is the hobby is affordable, at any level you care to participate at.

  7. Farmer Bob
    Farmer Bob says:

    We had a Chicago toll booth operator start singing the Gilligan Island theme when we were pulling are Hardtop Skiff Craft back from Ohio. A wood boat just seems to make people smile even in Chicago.

  8. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    yes, there is the smile and head turning factor…and today, with woodyboat knowledge and experience being low…the general public is just as impressed with a neat whirlwind as a barrelback…so…go with the molded boat. Looks woody, easy to keep up…will not need soak time…will not soak your wallet…never leaks…light and easy to launch and trailer etc etc. Right on about the outboards too….ditch em if they die…plop on another one…GO BOATING! I have never paid more than 5K for a boat and trailer and have had some beauties and loads of fun….on the relative cheap.
    John in Va.

  9. John
    John says:

    Great value. I purchased a 1970 Skiffcraft X260 for $7,500 from the revenue left from my aging 91 bayliner. I believe I may have stopped the bleeding so to speak from depreciation.

  10. Doug Pope
    Doug Pope says:

    We have transitioned from a 33′ racing sailboat to a 21′ utility and the yearly operating expenses have dropped by a large margin. And I can’t seem to give the sailboat away.

  11. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    The point is that except for the folks who are making a living creating/restoring/repairing them, boating is a passion, a hobby, no different from any other, be it aircraft, cars, golf, vintage wine or craft beer, for that matter… Those that produce, profit. (… and for the most part are as passionate, just seem to have figured out a way to live off it.) Those that consume, don’t, except for the joy of the experience, the friends made along the way and the feeling at end of the day having spent it doing what you enjoy most.

  12. Gregory Jones
    Gregory Jones says:

    As I sit watching season one of Gilligans Island and writing this, I’m with Matt whole heartedly.

    This morning we finished a full restoration of our 1958 Lyman 15 footer, her original Gator trailer, and the original 1957 Johnson 35hp got tuned up but will not get a cosmetic job as it doesn’t need it.

    Cost of the boat: 2100.00. We put it in the water last season and ran 700 miles in local waterways.

    Cost of restoration:1400.00. Full strip, repair on the keel, new primer, paint, varnish.

    So 3500.00 to watch my wife smile and feel the accomplishment with me when we took her out today for the shake down cruise. Priceless.

    The fun we will enjoy this summer is worth every penny.

    We took some heat too from family when we reconnected after 30 years and were embarking on new lives in middle age. People acted like we were maintaining a 105 Mathis-Trumpy.

    I can’t eat fast food for what it costs us to pack sandwiches and gas her up for an evening picnic after work. You can’t buy that kind of relaxation.

    My boat is simply put dirt cheap to operate. PERIOD! It cost almost nothing to buy…work on…and when we hit the lake…every other boat just “disappears”.

    And best of all…I could still sell her at a profit. Lol.

  13. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    yes, Gregory, like the river rat said above… you are a rich man!
    smart one too.
    I just feel sorry for the poster above that admitted to at one time having a bayliner! God knows he is now in a better place!
    John in Va.

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