Your Classic Boats Price Hasn’t Changed Since It Was New.

Chris Craft Spread ad

Image Courtesy Chris Craft Antique Boat Club Archives

Yesterday on the Jitterbug story, folks were asking about the price of a custom boat, and it reminded me of a couple weeks ago  at the Reedville Classic Boat show and a fellow there had a nice model 100 with the original ad laminated in the boat showing a price of $805 bucks. He said the boat was for sale and when I asked about the price he laughed and said, not $805.00 bucks.



He wanted $17,000 for a completely restored, new 5200 by the way. Well of course I got to thinking. With the inflation calculated in from 1941 til now, an $805 boat would cost $13,068.27 give or take some stuff depending on options. Add a trailer and stuff, So the price is about the same as if I walked into a Chris Craft dealer and asked for a new Model 100.

U22 Ad

1950 Chris Craft Sportsman clip from catalog – Courtesy Chris – Craft Antique Boat Club Archives

Lets take a 1950 U22, $3,500 back in the day got you a standard middle of the road U22 That in today’s numbers is $35,000. Which may seem high, or low depending on the restoration done.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 5.42.31 AM

This amazing U22 is available at the Antique Boat Center for just $4,800! In 1950 dollars that is. See that’s not so bad? And you can sell it for $48,000 tomorrow.

The point here is not whats your boat worth, but more that the price of a Antique or Classic Boat hasn’t really changed all that much, and considering you can sell it for a bit less or more when your done with it, makes Classic Boating, the best value in the boating universe! So take advantage of the end of summer deals out there now. If you want to have some fun with your boat there is an inflation calculator RIGHT HERE. If you are lucky enough to know what your boat sold for new, type it in, and then calculate. Fun stuff. By the way a gallon of gas in 1950 was around 30 cents, today that’s $2.98 I just paid $1.89 on the way home here in Virginia. So quit your gas bitchn, your paying less for stuff today that your parents did 65 years ago!

20 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    You make it sound like such a bargain.

    I see a lot of old ads where people are rodeo riding like this. I wonder if Kerry Price would let me ride his award winning Custom this way? May have to make a trip to Austin this winter.

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    Yes you are! Gas in DC is around 2.30 here in northern va and drops to 1.89 in the rural areas of Va. we also have ethenaul free gas at the marina for around 2.50

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    My Greavette was $7,200 in 1972. Using the calculator that’s $41,135 in 2015. I’ll sell today for about 55% of that and include the trailer!

    Gas in Toronto is hovering about $ 1.00/liter = $ 2.88 in US terms.

  4. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Great story, nice to see the purchasing power comparison of a $ over time. People tend to think of nostalgic things in halcyon absolutes, when in fact many things are far cheaper today in real dollars then they formerly were. Gasoline may be one of them, but TV’s and air travel are certainly two more, among many items. Some things are more expensive – like cars. However, it is difficult to directly compare a 2015 Impala to a 1965 Impala, based on vehicle content alone (not even considering subjective measures!)

    These boats are just not that expensive in many cases, and are cheap in some. Boats were always luxury items for the folks with disposable income – not much changed there.

    • Kevin F
      Kevin F says:

      I consider my U-22 a bargain to buy, own, and operate; so far.

      I find the upkeep to be on par with a fiberglass boat, if said boat is waxed and polished every year. Mine takes a bit more time, but not a lot more time to make it a burden.

      After 23 years of ownership, my boat has taken very little extra maintenance to keep it safe and looking good; the biggest expense was when it was left our of a garage one winter (mooring cover only) by the person storing it, that left me with a deck strip and re-varnish expense.

      I have only had to replace the stem years ago with a laminated one for $1,500.

      Now, she needs new upholstery, the steering wheel reconditioned, and could use the chrome done if I wanted to “show her”. Not bad for 23 years and use that adds up to well over 10,000 miles of open water use, and many a very rough sea.

      She has tripled in value since I bought her, provided fantastic memories, and even better stories, and leaves a warm place in my heart every time I see her.

      When the day comes for a new bottom, the math will change of course; it would be cheaper to buy one already “done” than to put the next round of funds into her. But my heart is with her, and so are the memories, so I will write the check.

      I have owned many fiberglass boats, and will own more in the future. They are great! But for some reason, the memories are stronger with wood. Priceless 🙂

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Air fare has gotten cheaper because the service level has been minimized. Seats are smaller, leg room smaller, baggage space smaller, meals are rare and inedible. The only thing that has gotten bigger is the length of the stewardess’ skirts.

  5. Briant
    Briant says:

    Not to rain on the feel good parade here but…….a year ago I was paying $5.00 for a gallon of clear fuel, and now it is in the $3 neighborhood. And I am quite confident that it will spike up again in six months…..or just in time for the next summer rush. And let us all not forget that while we can play fast and footloose with the prices of today versus yesteryear, the simple fact remains that the middle class and the 1% ers are a shrinking demographic. And wages have been stagnant for decades. I was not buying stuff in 1950 so perhaps someone who was can tell me and show us that wild price fluxuations occurred then as they do now….in other words, did fuel in 1950 drop to $0.30 a gallon, only to spike up to $0.55 six months later? We may be paying about $2.50 a gallon now, but it was not that long a go that we were paying over $4.25.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      People scream when it soars, claiming conspiracy, “Big Oil,” etc. And they say little to nothing when it plummets (even though the same “Big Oil” is still out there).

      As the chart shows, it has done both since ’73. The principle factors driving this are transparent — overall OPEC power rising and falling, individual “cheating” cartel members, explosive growth of China, recessions and the recent, Great Recession, etc.

      It’ll probably rise again. Perhaps to new nights. No one knows. But what we do know is this. These are fantastic days to be a boater. If a boater is not taking advantage of low fuel prices today, they are looking a gift horse in the mouth.

      • Paul H.
        Paul H. says:

        Thanks Alex –

        Being that I reside and work in Calgary, I live this every day. The biggest single factor in the 2014- present oil price plunge has been technology. It has unlocked the shale deposits in the Bakken and caused north American production to skyrocket, challenging and then diminishing OPEC’s market share in the process. The price drop is about protecting market share.

        Oil gluts result in the longest and deepest price declines in oil, and that is what we have now. The decline or at best flat growth of global oil consumption has made this worse (or better -depending on perspective). Rig counts are at 12 year lows and production will start to back off, as fewer wells are drilled and those that are producing now decline in production. These shale wells have high decline rates – much higher than conventional wells.

        Higher prices will return, but even here in Calgary where the economy is based on oil, it is not believed to be anytime soon.

        • Tommyholm
          Tommyholm says:

          Well I would not call this a long term oil glut, but I would call it one of the steepest price declines. This aboration is due to commotidty speculation and future price analysis, not real/true market forces. The key is the conversion rate to natural gas vs gasoline. As long as the energy markets shift to NG your motor boating days are going to be “cheap ” until the water quality and quantity levels become adverse to drinking water requirements.

  6. Jeffrey J.
    Jeffrey J. says:

    I’m not real certain where I’m at on my construction costs as I haven’t tallied all of my receipts lately, but at the cost of just a strip and refinish running 12K, I’m certainly this new construction will be lower than a full restoration (12K is about what I’m in now), plus I have the ability to customize without violating any historical significance, I know some of you get awful excited when there is a chine shaved down too much or some hardware bit that has been inaccurately placed or used. The down side is it has taken a bit of time to get it this far and I still have a ways to go, but I do have a full time+ job that doesn’t give me all the time I would like to spend on it. And please let’s stop talking about gas prices, it’s not good over here in the Northwest……

    • pat chaps
      pat chaps says:


      What are you building ?
      What engine are you putting in ?
      Your project looks really great.
      I’m in the process of building a custom boat using a 23 ft fiberglass 1972 Lancer hull and a wood deck and wood interior.
      It looks a lot like your project.

      Please send me your e-mail address and some pictures.
      I would like to compare notes on our two projects, possibly we can help each other.

      Pat Chaps

  7. Martin Field
    Martin Field says:

    An Albatross speedboat (aluminium, classy little 12 footer) would have cost you the price of a house in 1957(£1150 ish). Currently around £2-3000. That house now? £283,000. I think the boat’s now a bargain! BTW, those prices applied to the house I grew up in!

    • Dave Nau
      Dave Nau says:

      A couple of comments.

      1. Start small and not in wood. You can get a very nice 14-15′ fiberglassic or aluminum outboard closed-deck boat with a 35hp OMC or Mercury motor and a trailer for under $4000 by looking around.

      2. Those small two-cylinder motors easily can go 3 hours on a six gallon tank, so right there your fuel costs drop substantially. And you get to buy gas on the road, rather than at the marina, saving again.

      Then, over time, you can can always upgrade to a nice wood boat. At least it gets you in the hobby and out on the water.

  8. Jon Peele
    Jon Peele says:

    My view on this subject is that reproductions are not ” new ” productions of old historically significant boats but ” copies “. It’s like copying the design of a Duzenberg or other classic car, building it, and using the name of the original manufacturer. It’s taking someone else’s design and trademark without compensation. Now I realize that there is no deception involved and that they are not exact copies,i.e., different engines, guages, etc. but it is still a taking of someone else’s creativity. I feel differently when it comes those builders who create their own custom designs. They are keeping the traditions of craftsmanship in wood boat building alive by creating new designs and selling them under their own model names.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      All good points Jon, thanks for sharing your insights. In the case of the Wooden Runabout Co boat, they are careful to not call it a Chris-Craft replica.

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