It’s Time Again To Play “What’s My Classic (Race) Boat” – For The Donzi Guys

In late December 2011 the guys from the Lake George Donzi Classic Club shared some great Donzi boat stories and images with us here at Woody Boater, which was a very popular and fun story.  They gave us the opportunity to learn more about the classic Donzi marque and a few of their events throughout the year.  (You can see that story by clicking here)

We quickly learned that the “Donzi Guys” have a ton of energy and enjoy sharing their knowledge of classic (and very cool) Donzi boats with the Woody Boater community. And we are looking forward to being involved in the first ever Live-ish Classic Fiberglass Shootout between a Donzi Hornet 19 & Chris-Craft XK-19 next summer at a lake in Michigan.  (You can see the story of how the concept of the shootout originated by clicking here.)

But today, we would like to help the “Donzi Guys” identify this vintage wooden raceboat.  Last night we received an e-mail from fellow Woody Boater and Donzi Registry member Sean Conroy, who sent us these photos of an unusual vintage raceboat, which the folks over at at the Donzi Registry are trying to identify for the current owner…  who was the designer, builder, past owner, anything.

Sean’s e-mail read…   Texx – I wondered if you might be able to help identify this boat. It was recently found after 50+ years in a barn in Detroit.  There are no discernable markings , race numbers, plates or hardware.  Bit of a mystery really, but hoped that someone might recognize the style.  We thought it looked a little bit like the Hacker, “Scotty” with the aft removed, but also thought “Scotty” to be a unique one-off vessel.  Wish there was more to go on, but that’s all I have.  Anyways, any help you could give would be appreciated.  BTW, apparently the boat is NOT for sale.

Thank You – Sean Conroy.

Brad Hunter from Huntingdon Valley Pa (Just outside Philly) posted the original request for information on the Donzi Registry Forum along with these recent photos of the mystery raceboat.  Brad commented on the Forum – “My friend Jeff B. from the AACA forum said that a fellow named Al & his Dad discovered this boat some time ago in a Detroit area barn and have been tryng to identify it’s builder & designer ever since.  The boat has a very small & tight driver’s cockpit with a centrally located steering wheel, throttle & controls. There is said to be an additional tiny open cockpit behind the captain’s cockpit just ahead of the stern transom.
The boat also has two very large metal trim tabs, or cavitation plates, with mechancal adjustment controls.”

“Note the bow has a very unusual deck “Mascott” above the bow’s plated cutwater.” – Brad

To see all the information and comments that has come in over the last few days you can visit the Donzi Registry forum by clicking here.

One of the comments on the Donzi Registry forum made reference to a simlar “Stepped” style outboard raceboat named “Allez IV” which was included in the Toronto Chapter ACBS display at the recent Toronto International Boat Show. Here’s a great photo of  “Allez IV” at the show courtesy of the Toronto Chapter ACBS / Classicboat Magazine.

“Allez IV” (pronounced Allez Quatre or Alley Cat), a 13’ Century Whirlwind inspired boat by an unknown builder built circa 1930. It is part of the collection of Ken Kirk and Laura Gaggi.

Allez IV - Toronto Boat Show - Image Courtesy Toronto Chapter ACBS

Also, although it’s not exactly the same design, “Miss Shepherd” could be from approximately the same period, 1930’s & 40’s – For years now, Dave Van de Laar from Shepherd has been searching for information on these vintage family raceboats known as “Miss Shepherd” with only limited success. When I first viewed the photos we received from the Sean at the Donzi Registry it immediately reminded me of this small period raceboat. To see the information and history on this boat you can click here.

Miss Shepherd A10

Miss Shepherd 3 - Early 1940's Raceboat

I know this is a tough one, but if anyone out there in Woody Boaterland has any information or clues as to what this mystery raceboat is, or who designed it, let us know and we will make sure it gets back to the “Donzi Guys” so they can pass it along to the current owner. They mentioned on the forum that the current owner is prepared to have the boat restored back to her original condition, if they can ever determine what that was all those years ago…

We will also send a note to our friend’s Harold Wilson (from Miss Canada raceboats) and Douglas Van Patten III to ask them if they have any idea what this boat could possibly be… It’s interesting to note the few (subtle) similarities with the long, narrow bow design and single / center seat configuration as shown below on the John Hacker designed “Little Miss Canada IV” from the 1930’s… You can click on the image to enlarge it.

Don Ayers chimed in with this vintage Grey Phantom ad and commented – “Texx – This boat is the same story. I’m trying to figure out what it was. It was on the cover of a 1936 Grey Marine Engine catalog (below).” – Don

You can also see Part 2 to the Mystery Boat story by clicking here.

One thing is for sure… These mystery boats on Woody Boater are not getting any easier to identify! – Texx

33 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    The bow reminds me of the lines on a SeaLyon that was being restored at the same time mine was. But not the rest of it.

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    What a cool boat. So happy to read there are plans to restore it. It will be a jewel. Even happier to read it’s not for sale. (BTW, anyone else out there who sees a boat — any boat, every boat — and immediately thinks about buying it?) Wish I could help with identifying it, but no clue. There are some way sharp people in this form, tho, so it’ll be interesting to see what they believe it might be.

    Oh, and Tom, thank you for identifying the, er, objects the lady is holding as skis. ‘Cause I first thought…

    …baguettes. But then there’s that smile. Kinda like Mona’s. There’s something behind it. And all those people staring too…

    Nope, think you’re right. Skis.

  3. matt
    matt says:

    Here is a set of plans for a Hacker “Slippery” From Chad Durren, And a first for woody boater. Images in comments. I have not figured out how you can do it, but will if you guys like it.

    • John Campbell
      John Campbell says:

      I have the Slippery zip file but unable to read lines info…..table of offsets is fine…..I very much want to build this little boat….can anyone help me with a good clean lines drawing for her? Would really appreciate a call to my cell no. 254-493-8493……John Campbell, Belton, Texas

  4. chad
    chad says:

    The Slippery looks to have a hard sheer and the mystery boat is rounded like the Canadian boats above. Hmmm….

    How long is the mystery boat?

  5. Texx
    Texx says:

    Brad Hunter noted on the Donzi Forum that in it’s current configuration, it’s around 14′ or 15′ long.

    I will try to get him to chime in on how it’s fastened for MikeM…

  6. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Either way it’s a cool boat and I would guess that an experienced boat builder put it together. Theres a lot going on with that hull and it looks well built. Thanks for the drawing, Slippery Chad!

  7. tommy holmes
    tommy holmes says:

    Nice boat.
    Century made a 13′ Whirlwind from 1932 to 1938 that looks quite similar; so I’d guess the mystery boat is from the same time period; the steering wheels look the same.

  8. brian
    brian says:

    I’m with Tom – I love a nice pair of skis.

    Regarding this boat – at least someone finally had the sense to end it’s transformation into Pre-Columbian Art by actually bringing it inside.

    I will never understand these folks that will not sell you something that they clearly do not give a rat’s butt about.

    I don’t think I would have the guts to actually drive this thing if and when it gets restored. It looks as though it would just begin to porpoise at about 3 knots.

    Much work went into it so somebody has to know that it is and the usual details.

  9. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    looks to me like someone was pying attention to George Crouch and the raceboats he was designing in the late 20’s early 30’s.

  10. andreas
    andreas says:

    The first stern shot had me thinking Larson Falls Flyer.

    But the bow and side shots do not look like a Falls Flyer.


  11. Alex
    Alex says:

    Don, I’ve used masking tape before and had good success. I’ve also used roofing nails. If you use tape, be sure to wrap it completely around the skis. I mean pole.

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      I should have read your entire explanation 1st as I ruined 2 monitors with roofing nails before I realized you were referring to a wooden post! They made very pretty sparks though.

  12. Brad Hunter
    Brad Hunter says:

    Thank’s for your interest in this mystery boat!

    Does anyone here think that the aft 1/3 stern of this boat may have been chopped-off ?
    I had suspected that this was once a much larger torpedo sterned racer.
    The aft section of this hull just does not fit the great overall lines, & great design, of this hull. This could also explain the need for those monster sized trim tabs/cavitation plates…
    Picture in your mind a missing aft stern section like on the famous “Scotty” rceboat.

    I will try to find-out how the outer planking is fastened from Jeff & Al this weekend.
    Sadly I have not actually inspected this hull firsthand.
    I have only seen the photos that were posted on this, & my “Antique Raceboat” thread.
    My user name there is silverghost .

    Keep your opinions & posts comming.
    I’m sure the woody boat experts here can pin this myster boat identification down.
    I have been a mahogany wood boater for 56 years myself & have restored a dozen, or so, in my lifetime.
    I am also a new fangled Fiberglass Donzi benchseat gentleman’s racer project builder.

    From the compound curves of this hull It is very hard for me to believe that a home builder steam bent & spiraled this hull’s planking.

    Thank’s Again !

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Brad – I keep going back to the photos of the mystery boat and compare them with the similar small raceboats from the era.

      I agree with you, it gives me the impression that at some point the original boat was altered or cut off to accommodate the installation of an outboard motor. And although I only have limited knowledge on the evolution of trim tabs, were they developed in the late 30’s or early 40’s to this degree?

      We have received some off-line comments from some very knowledgeable people (and continue to receive more) with their thoughts on the mystery boat, and we will summarize those comments (as an update) on this story in the next few days.

      If you could confirm how the outer planking is fastened (as mentioned in your comments) this may help. Thanks for your comments!

  13. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I think it is definitely a cut-down longer boat, and the remains of the aft cockpit is where the fuel tank for the O/B was placed. In my opinion it looks very much like a Hacker-designed and Greavette built one off race boat of the ’33-’36 range – the class of racing I could not say. Dimensions would be helpful, but it very much looks like it was retro-fitted with the O/B. Any evidence of a front engine hatch being decked over? Hard, if not impossible to tell in these pic’s.

    I think it is the most interesting mystery boat I have seen on WB, that is for sure.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for commenting George, good point. Do you know where we can get a photo of Miss Los Angeles? I have one, but it’s very poor quality.

  14. Douglas Van Patten III
    Douglas Van Patten III says:

    The mystery boat looks like a minature ‘Scotty” If the fairbody lines were extended it would be a double ender,
    like ‘Scotty’ That and the fact it was found in a barn near
    Detroit leads me to beleive it is a John Hacker design from the late nineteen twenties to the early nineteen thirties. The lack of instruments on the dashboard and the coaming abaft of the transom stern leads me to conclude that the mystery boat was designed and built as an outboard.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for commenting Douglas – I will put together a brief summary of all off-line comments and info, and post it later this week. We are trying to locate a photo of Miss Los Angeles, and a few others.

  15. A.J.
    A.J. says:

    To clear up a few details on this particular boat:

    1. It was found in a barn in central Massachusetts, not Detroit. It has been placed in the barn in the 1950s. The owner had died in the late 90s. His son knew nothing of it’s origins other than a vague recollection that it came from NH but was not sure.

    2. The boat measures 14 feet. The cockpit is big enough for 2 adults. The steering wheel was moved at some point from the left to the center.

    3. The boat is constructed with brass screws.

    4. There is a hatch forward of the cockpit. This hatch can be completely removed and is latched from beneath.

    5. Although I’m not an expert, the stern seems to be have been modified by someone at a later date for the outboard. The construction details on the back do not match the rest of the boat.

    6. The boat had very little or no time with the outboard engine. This is based on the lack of wear where the control cables rub against the hull. There is very little indication that the cables had moved much at all.

    hope this helps, regards, A.J.

  16. A.J.
    A.J. says:

    I misspoke in my last reply. The steering wheel was on the right and moved to the center. The 3 holes are visible where the bracket was moved and rotated. You can also see the notch in the dash.

  17. Madison Rechner
    Madison Rechner says:

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.Orange Roofing Contractors, 1010 N. Batavia St., #F2, Orange, CA 92867 – (714) 770-8684

  18. Mark Prendeville
    Mark Prendeville says:

    Looks like a George Crouch or John Hacker design. Both of these designers would do designs for customers and the customer could take the plans to any builder or build themselves if able. Looks like an outboard class boat that was built from Crouch designs to me. Possibly built in Muskoda(sp) region in Canada? Hutchinson, Grevette or Minnett-Shields. If you know the year and look in the old Rudder or Motor Boat mags you may find it in a picture. Mystic or ABM in Clayton may be able to help you.

Comments are closed.