Fast! What’s That Unrestored Boat On Ebay Really Worth?

Sylvia covering boardsYesterday we featured a rare Chris Craft Silver Arrow that needs some restoration. One of the comments mentioned what something like this would cost to restore. It got me thinking that maybe Woody Boater could help advise folks out there considering such an endeavor on a simple boat.

WARNING! This is a way way over simplification of the subject. Why over simplify? Because if you are looking on ebay or craigslist with out a brokers help, it’s always a good way to adjust your emotions. It really doesn’t matter which boat you are referencing in this by the way. The rules apply.

old boat 2

So, you find a 19 ft boat on ebay.. You fall in love with the photos and its $5K. The seller says all the same stuff. No rot, needs a little work. They may not even be sure what it is. You look around and find out restored ones sell for $35K.. WOW, 10K feels like a deal. So lets add it up.. REMEMBER THIS IS ROUGH!

New bottom, $1K a foot. So that’s $19K

They ALL need some sort of frame work. Lets say not a lot, but some. Add another 4K

OK, Chrome $3K

Engine $6K unless it was rebuilt its gonna need to be rebuilt.

Varnish $10K

New trailer $5K

mmm lets add up that $10K $35K boat.  That comes to $52,000

Sylvias new dash

New dash, Gauges, Wiring.. It adds up big time


Now, it can be a tad less depending on what you want to do.. I did not add interior or gauges.. Re wire etc..

$1,000 to restore a wheel! Dont be shocked, when you know what goes into it, its worth it! Stuff to consider!

I was ball parking so you can see what are you buying.  You must decide about the value after its done, not when you buy it. Then make the choice. The price of a un restored boat is more of a what is it worth to the buyer and seller to agree on. I have seen U22’s for $5K and yes Silver Arrows for $7K. The simple fast fact is that it sometimes is better to buy a total resto, cause they all need a lot. The other advice is to buy through a reliable broker that helps you not make an error. Your emotions can fool you, and there is noting like going to look at that $35K boat while also looking at 3 others in that price range to give you some reference.

62 replies
  1. RRGadow
    RRGadow says:

    ……but if we/everyone looked at it that way no one would take on any of these projects….its as if you are talking people out of the hobby.

  2. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    NO, I don’t think Matt is trying to talk anyone out of the hobby, these are just good reality checks for any rookie drooling over a project boat. Good solid advice.

    One other factor to be calculated is if you plan on doing a lot of work yourself. This can be a lot less money but it can be a lot of frustration depending on your abilities and patience. Many of us who work on our own boats find it to be great therapy.

    • Ron Cuccaro
      Ron Cuccaro says:

      The therapy ,self satisfaction and pride that is provided as a result of a successfull restoration project far outweighs the economics. There is no way that you can ever make a case for a full restoration thinking that it is economically feasible. Someday the market may change to push values up enough to provide a pay back Meantime doing it for the pleasure and satisfaction is what I believe drives most of us.

  3. matt
    matt says:

    HA, good point, but the worst thing for the hobby is people hating the process and feeling cheated. If you go into it with your eyes wide open and enjoy the journey. AND work with honest people, you will stay in the hobby and be happy. The real issue is the seller knowing how to sell a project. I have spoken to countless restorers and brokers. The real issue is convincing the seller that there boat is not worth the fortune they think its worth.

    • matt
      matt says:

      Yes Troy, please always factor in your time. That time can be the most rewarding part of any restoration.

  4. Mike
    Mike says:

    Actually, an honest assessment of restoration is what is needed – followed by a discussion on the practicality of saving the hobby when this cost is so high. Let me give myself as an example. I fell into an unrestored (“gray boat”) 1948 Century Resorter due to the death of a friend. The boat was inside a garage but had squirrels and mice living in it. I started individually pricing out different aspects of the restoration and they just seem incredible – restoration of the instrument cluster (with conversion to 12V) alone will be $1200-1500. All I’m looking for is a pretty, usable boat to honor my friend, not a concourse restoration. So here’s the rub, if the sport/hobby is to grow, there needs to be inventory and inventory means restoration. Restoration also means a stronger connection, beyond today’s buy and go society. Here is one way-out suggestion to assist with this – a “restoration” foundation (supported by the ACBS, WoodyBoater, and all those with a commercial interest in growing the sport). This foundation would provide grants specifically towards restoration projects to bring the cost down to a reasonable level and would be given to individuals on a number of criteria. For example, the criteria could be: Initial condition of the boat, Age of the boat, Likely pleasure use of the boat, Prior experience with boats, and perhaps income level. The idea is not to grow someone’s collection or portfolio but to give a family access to generating the next generation of boaters. The grants could have a stipulation of repayment if the restored boat is sold within X years of completion. Okay, I have now kicked a hornet’s nest, let the buzzing begin.

  5. Texx
    Texx says:

    Prices can range dramatically depending on:

    1. The existing condition of the 19′ wooden boat.
    2. What the buyers / new owners expectations are when it’s done.

    Based on your estimates above (generally speaking) I would say the Chrome (plating) cost for a 19′ wooden runabout should be more like 6K. Engine rebuild should be more like 10K (all in). Upholstery / Interior allow 6K (including flooring). Fuel tank either cleaning or replacement from Rayco allow 1,200.00. And also wiring if the original wiring is worn and unsafe, allow 2K.

    So Matt – based on your estimate of 52K and my estimates above, it should be more like 69K. That’s for a nice user, not necessarily a show boat.

    In my opinion (having been down this terrible road, a road that I will never go down ever again, as long as I live) the worst thing we can do is leave people with the impression that the actual restoration cost for a 19′ wooden runabout is less than it the potential cost.

    But again, the potential Ebay buyer / future owner needs to carefully evaluate the true condition of the subject boat with a reputable restorer, and also have a clear understanding of what his restoration objectives are for the boat before making any commitments. – Texx

  6. matt
    matt says:

    Thanks Texx! You are SOOOO right..I was trying to be on the low end for speed sake. Add to taht $69K 19 ft boat, some back and forth with other issues that always come up, like lumber, missing or wrong parts, and it is very possible to have a 100K if not more 19 ft boat. The point of the story is when you are drooling over a 17K Silver Arrow, it’s not. Its a 75K if not more Silver Arrow. The buyer needs to decide if the restoration process is part of the fun, or if you can save on it by doing it yourself. Its another story to decide if the boat is worthy of it all.

  7. Ed F.
    Ed F. says:

    Add to Texx’s comments, rub rails, cut water and a couple pieces of missing hardware that the previous owner kept as souvineers such as a $500 stern light. While $1000 will restore a lot of steering wheels, the one in Matts picture above is $1550 to restore without chrome, plus shipping. Don’t ask how I know that. If we are going to hand out grants, let’s include a nice heated building to work in, a fridge full of adult beverages, good music to varnish by and the first tank of gas.

  8. Texx
    Texx says:

    Agree Matt. But if you are new to the wooden boat hobby and may not be aware of these type of issues (mine fields), you are miles ahead to get your feet wet by buying a good water ready, user boat first. There are many great, high quality user boats for sale, through many of the “reputable” brokers here on Woody Boater.

    Tinker with it, perform some general maintenance, learn from the experience, and over time develop a clear understanding of what type of wooden boat best suits your needs. Runabouts vs utilities – very important decision for new people to the hobby.

    Get to know people in your area through the local boat club – then if you feel the need to restore a wooden boat, use that knowledge and experience to find a project boat a few years down the road.

    In other words, minimize your risk. You will be glad you did later, and your banker will love you for it… – Texx

    • Ed F.
      Ed F. says:

      Right on Texx! One of my sons found a very usable 18′ lapstrake outboard (cheap….very cheap) that he has used and enjoyed the last two summers and worked on (and enjoyed) the last two winters to make it his own. I think he is hooked on the hobby/ lifestyle. Another son bought a rough fiberglass outboard like we had when he was young that he has done a full restoration on, again adding viability to the acceptance of fiberglass. Neither of these guys have spent a lot of money and yet they are having a ton of fun and learning a lot. By the way, I like Pandora radio’s Diana Krall station when varnishing

  9. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Great story say I, the fool who is just past the halfway point on his fifth full restoration. It will absolutely be my last big project.

    I will add Matt that it is not always a founding premise that the restoration is an investment designed to yield a positive return. If a person sees it for what it more likely is – an expense in pursuit of a hobby or passion, the frame of reference becomes modified and more palatable. Most of us are buying an experience and a hobby, not a tangible financial return.

    Other hobbies are also expensive – cars of course, how about horses if you want to run through some bucks? This hobby is not really an outlier in that respect. Just don’t go into it blind, get advice and enjoy it for what it is – a great hobby filled with good people.

  10. Rick
    Rick says:

    I went into it blind but $30,000 latter my eyes were wide open. I was lucky (though I didn’t know it at the time) that I purchased the boat for just the value of the windshield brackets. The owner just made me promise to have the project completed. 10 years latter my wife still does not know the true cost of the restoration, she thinks it was $9000. So tomorrow do we look at the costs of a fiberglass resto?

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      I have done one fiberglass boat of the 5 restorations I have had done. It was vastly more inexpensive than a wood boat, though still not a small amount. It gets costly to re-gel coat a boat. But, there is no doubt that it is much more affordable than a full-on wooden boat restoration. That is why it is so important to recognize that these boats are also classics and encourage their preservation and use. It opens up the hobby to so many more folks.

      The first question in this topic today was what are project boats worth? Intrinsically they are worth nothing at all, or even less, with only rarest of exceptions. That is from an investment & return point of view. They may be worth something, for some reason, to a buyer who has some kind of connection to it. But economically they are worthless. Sellers don’t understand it, but it is reality. I bet most project level “classic” cars are in that same league, with a few exceptions for very high-dollar stuff.

  11. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Our Michigan chapter put on a winter workshop at the Algonac Maritime Museum on Jan 10. There were three excellent presentations: marine usage of West epoxy systems, painting and varnishing techniques, and buying an antique/classic boat. Rob Lyons from Antique Boat center made the presentation on buying a boat, and included great information on what to look for, pitfalls, the correct type and size of boat and current market conditions. The presentation was very well received by a capacity audience, including some brand new members that were in the market for a boat. Other Chapters way want to consider a similar type of event for their members.

  12. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    Don’t forget the mooring cover to protect your investment… That’s another $1,000 to $2,000 dollars… and speaking of protecting your investment don’t forget about your Hagerty insurance policy, I will let Carla from Hagerty speak to the price on an insurance policy…

    But it’s not about the money, It’s about the lifestyle right Matt…

  13. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    All I want to know is……HOW WAS THE HEADDER SHOT TAKEN? Seriously please tell me there was NOT someone not the bow.

    • matt
      matt says:

      That is a great question. That’s why Shawn is such an amazing photographer. I will ask, but sometimes the mystery is more fun.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Of course there was Cliff. It’s no biggie to take pics up there on a sizable boat.

      I took a bunch myself last summer from the deck of our 25 Sportsman. Great vantage! Greatest risk is dropping the camera.

      Here’s such a pic of my Mom and cousin from the 40s. Yep, taken from the bow. Harder to take a selfie in those days.

  14. Craig J
    Craig J says:

    My experience is only with fiberglass. Some people SHOULD be scarred out of the “hobby”. That’s why half the XK22’s out there are hacked up, painted, and have most of their original parts(windshield frames) thrown in the trash. Some guy picked it out of a field and figured he would just change the spark plugs, throw on a Miami Vice paint scheme and go pick up women. The boat would have been better off staying in the field until someone with the cash and know-how rescued it.
    As for restoration costs, the previous statement is correct that glass can be done for less, but not a lot less if done to a high standard. Motors cost the same, upholstery costs the same, hardware costs the same, your labor costs the same, and having a boat professionally painted or gel coated is still big bucks albeit less than serious wood restoration.
    I approach every restoration with the understanding that every boat will need it all regardless of how good it looks. If a boat needs less than everything I’m ahead of the game but then it isn’t really a restoration and more of a refreshing. I’m a glass guy through and through but I really respect the level of craftsmanship and dedication it takes to do wood boat restoration. Sometimes I wish the sentiment was reciprocated a bit more but that’s another days topic.

    • jim g
      jim g says:

      Heres what it should look like. The dodge is missing about 15,000.00 in hardware. Last time I looked California Classic was almost 7,000.00 for the rear windshield and that didn’t include the small hold down brackets. Don’t even ask what a straight 8 lycoming cost.

  15. matt
    matt says:

    One thing to consider restoring a Fiberglass boat is that many parts are also hard to find as well as Hulls. One advantage Wood boats have is the ability to completely rebuild them. A shot XK hull is a shot hull, a shot modell 99 is still saveable!

  16. mike
    mike says:

    Buy another persons dream that has already been restored; I have seen numerous boats that have been restored by their owners who have put in way more money then the boat is worth only to sell the boat 5 years later for a fraction of the price; carefully inspect the bottom and the transom; I believe a price of $1000 per foot for a new bottom is too low; few restorers will do a boat for the bottom only or $19k …if the bottom is good you can use the boat and then it comes to appearance vs price. Lots of deals on used wood boats but buyer be very aware; there are lots of people waiting to restore your boat..

  17. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    It’s always good advice to keep your eyes wide open. The plenty of wood boats for sale in the midst of restoration certainly is scary. Sometimes circumstances come about to not complete the project but more times than we like the project became a burden of sorts and now what? A half done job with already more money spent than anticipated. What’s that boat worth? The seller (widow) thinks its worth a lot. The craftsmanship is suspect, all the parts are somewhere, no pictures of the destruct, and the engine turned over last time . These are the really tough ones unfortunately the ones most often parted out or thrown out. Keep both eyes open! And buy a user boat first and a project second.

  18. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    Man, great discussions today, this is why I go to this site the first thing I turn on my computer each morning.
    Where do I start? I love the foundation/grant idea. To restore more Antique and Classic boats and then have them in an inventory to sell. Kind of like Spec houses built.
    I learned my lesson of doing a full ground up, customize it to my liking, project several years ago, with a 1970 El Camino. A $4,000.00 rust free AZ car, ended up at $35k, or more, I stopped counting at $35k, cause it was to painful to know the real numbers.
    So when I got back into Classic boats, I went looking for recently restored vessels, that were used a couple of years and were up for sale. Both times, I let the guy that restored the classic take the hit, with the HackerCraft, and the Lyman. Then I used the boats two, three years, and sold them for what I bought them for. To me, a retired old fart, with limited funds, this is the best way to play…

    I also agree on the cost factor being far less for early ClassicGlass toys. My 1959 Lake N Sea was a joy to restore to MY TASTE in color, and for less than $2,000.00 I have an eye popping little toy. All totaled, I have less than $6,000.00 into a quality looking, fun to run, and easy to maintain peace of history to take to Classic car and boat shows.
    A word of caution; be sure to check on the stringers in any early glass boat, since they are wood and will rot if left outdoor to allow water to sit in the bottom. If they are bad, NOW you got yourself a BIG cost to restore them. The transoms are the next area to check on for rotten wood…

  19. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Do you want a “check book” restoration or do you want to get your hands dirty and save some $$$. One can befriend a current member, help them launch a boat, get it prepped for seasonal use or layup and learn something about it before jumping in uninformed. Then, once they get comfortable, save $$$ for example, by delivering their motor to be restored, finding material for re upholstery at a good price, locating missing hardware, maybe painting the bilge when ready for that, locating or refurbishing a trailer, ordering some of the supplies, etc. All this helps restorer complete a project. Nothing hacks off a restorer more than to install an outsourced “rebuilt” motor only to find out the block was rebuilt and none of the “peripherals” (starter, carb(s), distributor, water pump, Transmission) were checked out and/or rebuilt. Restorers are not necessarily engine guys and don’t expect them to be too anxious to jump into troubleshooting your “new” engine problems after a long restoration project. They want to move it on as much as you so get your motor “run-in” before install, if at all possible with some written guarantees. There’s nothing more frustrating than yanking an engine out of fresh restoration because of an oil leak in a spotless bilge because the owner didn’t get, at least, new seals in the trans installed or the motor checked for oil leaks after rebuild.

  20. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Good advice Tommy, I remember my first boat, it had an “8D” battery group size used in Caterpillar bulldozers to start the engine. It took 3 people to lift that battery out and had 3 bilge pumps, which should have been a clue right there, but for $1200 it was a good user boat for a while.

  21. Gary
    Gary says:

    There is no doubt about it restoring a grey boat is like opening Pandora’s box. For example a $200 steering wheel for a Capri has now turned into $3400 due to the people doing the restoration not looking at the wheel and recognizing broken screws & wrong parts but for some dumb reason restoring it with all it’s maladies.
    I expected some screwups but the steering wheel is the best example. I went into this current restoration after 5 boats with a project engineering attitude, a business plan and determination to track every cent spent on a spread sheet. So far that spread sheet has pointed out the little miscellaneous items, like sandpaper, jig screws, cleaning alcohol, odd tools needed and more. It is not tracking the coffee beans, beers, wine and the pleasures from accomplishments.
    Fortunately I am still pretty close to my original business plan, within 10%, but I do expect something else to go wrong and push me further out of plan. Still, having spent $23k to date and expecting another $35k to be spent I might come in under the $70k number. Iff I do not count all the ferry trips, my time, and I manage to live to the first showing of the boat it will have been worth it.
    I can come up with pros & cons but I am pretty sure woodies being more expensive than “tupperwares” will win out.

  22. Alan Frederick
    Alan Frederick says:

    I too agree that if you’re just getting your feet wet that a good user boat is the way to go, then after that, jumping into a restoration project is not quite so painful. If you’re planning on using a restored boat as an investment, you may be able to recoup your material costs but certainly not your labor. I think you list that as a labor of love.
    When anyone comes up to ask questions about my boat it usually goes something like this:
    1. How fast does she go?
    2. Is that a wood boat?
    3. Did you do it all yourself?
    After #3, if the answer is YES, they continue asking questions, if NO, they keep on walking.
    That’s why it’s still worth it to invest your time in a woodie or glassic, plus you’re bringing her back to life.
    Plus, what else can you spend your idle time doing – Cutting the grass or complaining about the weather? Yuk!

  23. David Nau
    David Nau says:

    I agree that fiberglass can be a lot less expensive, and even more so if you pick the right boat. I suggest a 1961-1970 MFG Niagara'(14′ 4″), Westfield’ (15′ 8′) or Edinboro (16′ 6″). They all look the same, just different scale. Built with pressure molded hulls and fiberglass floors and stringers. The only wood is in seat frames, dash backing, and transom. If the transom rots, they are fairly easy to fix by a do-it-yourselfer. Unrestored and typically in fair condition, they go for around $1000-$1500 for a boat, motor and trailer.

    I found my 1966 Niagara in almost new shape, with no cracks or blisters anywhere, and the wood still solid. With a 1963 Merc 350 and TeeNee trailer, it cost me $2600, and had little to fix. For towing, I use my 2007 PT Cruiser convertible, as the whole rig is just under 1000 pounds and thus, within the tow rating. (So a big expensive truck or SUV is not needed for towing.)

    There are ways to have fun and not have the hobby be quite so expensive. Sure it’s fiberglass, but I can always do wood sometime in the future.

    Here it is at the Mid-America Boat Show in Cleveland last week.

    • Terry Riley
      Terry Riley says:

      Nice Boat David. I traded 1958 Cambridge for 1964 Edinboro will start work in the spring. Great boats.

    • David Nau
      David Nau says:

      You are so right about having it look good “behind the velvet ropes”, but you need to touch them to inspect them. It took me over a year to find this one. While these boats have fiberglass stringers, there is foam flotation under the floor. If the boat is left outside uncovered, water leaks through the well-nuts that are used to fasten the seats and then gets under the floor, only to water-log the foam. Then you have a mess just as bad as rotten stringers. The boats then weighs a lot more from holding all that water. MFG installed a second plug at the factory to drain water that may get under the floor, but it’s tough to dry out wet foam without removing the whole glassed-in floor.

      This one is dry, having been kept in a garage under a canvas cover all its life. transom is still solid and when spending six hours bouncing in the waves of Sandusky Bay, it proved as solid as new. (I grew up with four of them and my brother still has the last one, so I’m very familiar with how they feel on the water.)

      I looked at a lot of worn and wet MFGs to find this one. But they are out there. Almost bought a 1965 MFG Niagara in this condition in 1996 that I let get away. Still wish I had bought it then. But this boat is a good one, too.

  24. Mike
    Mike says:

    I guess a good general question is: Is it in the best interest of the sport/hobby to have boats restored or boat burned? If boat restoration is the goal, so as not to be relegated to “modern classics” in the future, then either the price needs to come down or the pathway made more palatable. It seems a bit paradoxical that the price of restoration (all its components) is going up when the price willing to be paid for complete boats appears to be going (down?)

  25. Thorn
    Thorn says:

    Most of us know this is not an investment like your 401K or your house. It is for fun and family enjoyment. If you do not have that then sell it all and buy some golf clubs. Oh, now there’s a cheap hobby!

  26. Sean
    Sean says:

    Woodies do not have to be 50K plus boats. I did my Greavette with a new hull, several frames, a portion of the keel, All new interior, new wiring/gauges and 2 different engines just under 40K (including purchase, custom cover & trailer) and I did most of it with my chequebook. The worst of this was the 3K I spent on troubleshooting the original engine/drive after it was refurbished and the just over 10K I spent on it’s modern replacement.

    I shopped and found quality people that did the work for much less than the popular big name type shops.

    Now I’m working on a fiberglass boat. A 65 Donzi. Definitely not a cheap restoration but, certainly on par with my woody. Transom, stringers, fiberglass re-enforcement, re-core the deck, gellcoat the hull , paint the deck, new interior, wiring, gauges, performance motor/drive, tabs, hydraulic steering, rub rail chrome work…. this is a 40K boat as well….. same as a woody. Just different.

    • Sean
      Sean says:

      BTW: A new Mastercraft X20 ski/wakeboard boat is over $100,000 new…. and depreciates quickly.

      A totally refurbished boat under 50K is a good price in my book. A prime “project” boat is really worth nothing… except what the owner will sell it for, and a buyer is willing to pay.

    • 72Hornet
      72Hornet says:

      All good comments and I will add my .02 worth. After having numerous boats over the years and all of them needing attention, I feel I am qualified to add my point of view. I know a lot of people on our lake and always get asked about how fun it would be to own a classic boat, be it wood or glass. A lof of these questions are how much that someone wants to own one for their evening cruises and what would it cost to get into. My response is that it is very easy to find a boat to buy, spend money on and get out on the water, but it is always risky if you are looking to stay revenue neutral. I always take into account the worst case scenario and what the exit plan is. It is very similar to retoring a car. One can restore a 1962 Ford Glaxie 500 four door and have a ton of money in when done verses a 1962 Corvette. Aside from the aquisition costs, the Corvette would most likely be a better investment, but not always.
      That being said, I have owned a lot of boats over the years, spend a lot of money on upkeep each year and do a lot of the work myself when possible. I have some boats that are collectable and some that would be a hard sell in any classic boat market, but I have them in my collection due to sentimental reasons etc. I am purist at heart and like to have period correct boats and in my collecting, I am buying my boats as close to being restored in a good, stock as factory delivered as possible. (Dad, wherever you are, I just may be getting smarter!) Then I go out and enjoy them with others. In support to Matt, it is indeed a lifestyle! I pull into a restaurant in my wood Coronado or old fiberglass Donzi Hornet and everyone is always coming up to talk to me about them and view them. My close friend has a newer 130K Cobalt and he always shakes his head at the attention my boats get and the inattention his gets. We laugh about it!
      I hope I am able to continue to enjoy this endeavor and share my experiences with others as it what makes this hobby (lifestyle) so wonderful. I am amazed at how much sharing of parts, help, knowledge I have received over the years within this hobby and I am always trying to pay it forward. Sorry for the rambling, but to add to my point, that is what makes messing around with old boats truly a lifestyle.

  27. Cenger
    Cenger says:

    I kept all receipts for my 16′ Gar Wood restoration to add up at the end of the project. Total cost was a shade over $42K including the cost of the hull (5K) and restoration of trailer. I did all of the work except the engine, chrome and gauges. To me it is worth ever dime. For those who want a challenge, you can restore these things to a high quality at a cost much lower than a new Bayliner.

  28. cutwaterguy
    cutwaterguy says:

    Comments please about this conundrum this ebay Gar Wood seller appears to be in? I’m restoring the same hull but a 1937 model. Memory test for Jim Staib…. How long has it been you told me about this G W?

  29. Brian
    Brian says:

    There really isn’t anything that compares to a completely restored classic wood boat. However, I learned my lesson on just how much work it takes after about a year into restoring a 1961 Cruisers Inc. 302 when I was trying to draw full scale templates of the rotten wooden beams in the boat. Thankfully, if it doesn’t work out there are still several options for the furniture you can make out of wood boats.

  30. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    Very few boats that you invest in can hold their price much less go up in value. I am wondering when and how the pure rarity of many wood boats, will attract interest to move the supply and demand curve. This thought came to me while watch cars at unbelievable prices go through Barrett Jackson.
    Many collectors have project and grey boats in storage waiting for the day someone will appreciate the woody piece of art, I am one of those .

  31. Nautilus Restorations
    Nautilus Restorations says:

    There are three kinds of vintage boat owners…just like vintage cars: buyers, do-it-yourself restorers and those who commission restorations. The last group are actually would-be restorers. They simply don’t have the time, the tools or the know-how. These are the people I work for. They have an appreciation for antique boats and once they find one they like, they want to see it come back to life, generally with a few custom touches thrown in. Unlike “buyers” who must fork-over a lump sum of cash to acquire their heart’s desire, restorers and the “would-bes” are able to spread their “investment” over a long period of time. They have the pleasure of either doing or watching the work. It’s their hobby and as such, the expense is justifiable…like golf, tennis, horses, airplanes, etc.

    When finished, a restorer HAS something: his vision realized, not just a pile of receipts, torn tickets, etc. In a way, restorers are visionaries and they do not let something as mundane as money cloud their vision. But restoration does have tangible rewards. Restorers look at a “hulk” and say to themselves, “I can save that.” When they do, the sense of satisfaction always seems to be worth every penny expended. The reason is simple: Vintage boating is not about money.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Very well put.

      Though the total restoration I had done was very costly, observing the 9-month long process at Classic and Antique Boats in Hessel, MI — sometimes daily — was a great pleasure.

      And I’m “left with” one helluva 1948 25′ Sportsman, albeit at a paper loss.

      Still, life can be short. Sometimes the loss might turn out to be money well spent. (Yep, the old “enjoy yourself it’s later than you think…”)

  32. Nautilus Restorations
    Nautilus Restorations says:

    Yes, there comes a point where time…quality time…is so much more precious than money. Restore a boat. Write your name and date somewhere where it can be found many years from now by the next restorer. Take it out and see what she’s got. Let the wind blow through your hair and drink imported beer. Throw your head back and laugh out loud. You earned it.

    “Hey everybody! Let’s have some fun.
    You live but once and when you’re dead, you’re done.
    So let the good times roll.”

  33. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    I’ve arrived late to the discussion today. Haven’t read the comments but read the story. Thank you for the honest heads up Matt. A very fair, reasonable and helpful assessment of buying in.

  34. Ed F.
    Ed F. says:

    A lot of great opinions and comments here. The entertainment value is immeasurable in this hobby regardless of whether you are a do it yourselfer or a checkbook restorer. When compared with most other hobbies I think this is a reasonable bang for the buck endeavor. I think the feeling that the value of a restored boat is depreciating is somewhat short sighted. If you expect to get a return on your investment in 3-5 years you would probably be disappointed but looking at the BIG picture classic boat value has definitely risen overhe long term. I have only been involved for about 5 years but even in that time the value of project boats and restored boats seems to have risen. Now if we look back 10-15-20 years the difference in value of all classic boats is huge. If you are in it for the long term I believe you can justify the investment. Those who say a gray boat has no value haven’t tried to buy much hardware.

  35. Woodenrookie
    Woodenrookie says:

    bought a grey boat in 2007, The plan is to hit the water this spring/summer. The only truth I have learned through the process with restorers is unlike every other industry, “I’m in no hurry” does not apply. There are no off season deals, work on it when you have a little free time, add my order with another big order. Just plan on paying!! That being said because of both time and knowledge I hired the majority of my work done and spread it out over 7+ years. For those without deep pockets this is the best way to restore a grey boat and I know when we hit the water it will be worth the wait.

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