On The Drive Home From Miami, Mary Delle Said “Ed, If You Want It – Go Buy It!”

Last week fellow Woody Boater Royce Humphreys shared this great story of Ed Bradley and his wife Mary Delle from Lake Okoboji, and their classic 1968 Donzi 18′ 2+3 speedboat. (Royce is the fellow that will be representing the Donzi marque with his 19′ Hornet in this summer’s first ever Woody Boater “Classic Fiberglass Shootout” challenging Alex and his Chris-Craft XK-19 – More on that later…)

Texx – Here is the story of Jeff Farrar’s 1968 Donzi 18 that his family has owned since new.

Jeff’s grandfather, Ed Bradley owned a summer home on West Lake Okoboji in Northwest Iowa. The family had owned a 1947 Higgins utility that was replaced by a then new 1955 18′ Chris-Craft Continental from Fred Wilson at Wilson Boat Works. The family had the Continental until 1966 when Ed purchased a new 1966 Donzi 16′ Ski Sporter. That boat was white with a blue boot stripe, but unfortunately we don’t have any photos of that exact Donzi.

Then, in early 1968, Ed and his wife Mary Delle were in Miami, Florida attending the Miami International Boat Show. They saw the Yellow Donzi 18′ 2+3 at the Miami show and Ed was immediately enamoured with boat. After the show, Mary Delle and Ed were driving back to Omaha, Nebraska (about 50 miles outside of Miami) and as Mary Delle stated years later, she said…
“Ed, I am not going to listen to you talking about that Donzi all the way back to Nebraska, if you want it, then turn this Cadillac around and go buy the thing!”

And that’s exactly what they did! At the next off ramp, they turned around, returned to Miami and ordered their new 1968 Donzi 2+3.

Donzi 18-2+3 Sales Brochure

According to the family records, their new Donzi 2+3 was not built until September of 1968 according to the original bill of sale (shown below). The boat underwent a major restoration in 1990 by a local Marina where the hull had new Awl Grip and the engine and drive overhauled. The Bradley Family Donzi 18′ has been a local lake legend ever since. Ed Bradley passed away in 1975 and Mary Delle passed in 2003. Later in 2003, their daughter, Terri passed and her son Jeff Farrar is now the “conservator” of the family Donzi.

Here are some recent photos of Jeff enjoying the family Donzi 18′ 2+3.

Enjoy! – Royce Humphreys

Thanks Royce… Great story! After reviewing these recent photos of Jeff heading out for a spin in his classic Donzi, I couldn’t help but notice Jeff’s passenger. Have you ever been invited to go for a ride in a classic V-8 powered speedboat, quickly accepted, jumped aboard and then thought to yourself “What have I done, and what the Heck am I going to hang on to??!!” I know I have… Hey – I went for a ride of a lifetime in Hutch’s V-8 powered Jersey Speed Skiff last year, and a vintage Unlimited Hydroplane… I know the feeling.

Is that what Jeff’s passenger was thinking here as they left the dock? And Jeff has that certain look on his face as if to say “Let’s show this guy what a Donzi can really do.” (You can click on the photos to enlarge them)

In the next photo (below) I think Jeff’s passenger is still (casually) looking for something to hang on to…

OK – He just decided to hang on to the steel grab rail and hope for the best…. Woo Hoooo!

All in fun guys, and of course Jeff and his passenger made it safely back to the dock after the exciting ride aboard the family Donzi…

Royce added – BTW, here are a few shots of a 1969 Donzi 16′ Ski Sporter (similar to the first Donzi Ed & Mary Delle owned back in the 60’s), that Jeff’s brother Brad bought on Thanksgiving day in 2005, just to add to the Farrar family fleet!

Here is a Donzi brochure which helps illustrate the difference between the 18′ 2+3 model and the 16′ Ski Sporter, interior seating arrangement, etc

Thanks again Royce, it sure looks like they enjoy their classic Donzi’s.


20 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    If you were ever wondering where all the style and class that’s missing from the Centurys ended up, just take one look at a Donzi. And the Donzis float too!

  2. Texx
    Texx says:

    The more we learn about these classic Donzi’s, the more I like them. Notice on the invoice it was shipped in 1968 sporting a 225 HP Holman & Moody Ford V-8, probably a nice fit for that hull.

  3. Paul H
    Paul H says:

    These are such cool boats, obviously emerging classics and they look like a ton of fun. I wonder if the engine is a 289 or 302? I knew that Holman and Moody did engines for Nascar and likely other forms of motor racing, but did not know they did marine work as well.

    Great to see classic glass being featured on the site Matt – keep it coming. Some families obviously kept and preserved their glass boats from the ’60’s, just as some earlier families kept there wooden boats from earlier decades. All great stories to share and I enjoy reading them, no matter what kind of boat it is.

  4. Alex
    Alex says:

    Wholly agree w Paul. Glass, wood, aluminum. Powered, non-powered. Hell, at this time of year, even pontoon boats start to look good to me. Winter-induced “Boat Goggles.”

    Seeing go-fast boats like these only makes the DT’s worse. Must. Make. It. To. Spring.

    • Jim Mersman
      Jim Mersman says:

      I kid you not. I went across the street to my barn and said hi to my Century AND my pontoon today. Winters are too long in Michigan. Donzi, Slickcraft,Glastron and tons more are the next generation of “woody” boaters. Need to change your name at some point Matt. Maybe “Splinter Boaters”. Fits both but what do I know. I’m just an accountant.

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    Hey Ed or Royce. The last two pics show a grab bar that appears to extend in front of the passengers. Other pics show grab bars only along the sides. We all know what these bars are for in boats like this. 🙂 But I’m wondering whether there’s a story associated with adding the more extensive one to your boat.

  6. Jeff Fararr
    Jeff Fararr says:

    The last two pictures are of my brother’s 1969 Donzi, a 16′ Ski Sporter. There is a different railing setup on the two boats. I will say that it is harder to hang on in the 16′ because the seating is different as well. The Ski Sporter has a wrap around bench seat for the passengers and makes it a little bit more challenging to find the right position to hang on!

  7. 72 Hornet
    72 Hornet says:

    Alex, I will also have to say that when you ride with Jeff or his brother Brad, the process is pretty simple; It goes something like this…. get in, hang on, and shut up! We have a lot of fun running the Donzi’s together and blasting up and down the lake. My grab bar is on the dash and is pretty substantial….

  8. Alex
    Alex says:

    Does anyone else see similarities between the boat in the header Valentines card and some of these Donzi photos? Flat front deck. Yellow paint. Curved seating. Sport wheel. And a cat hanging on for dear life…

  9. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Ahhhh, finally relief from your Arabian bashing! Those Donzi guys are going to chew you up and spit you out ( just like the Century guys did)

    Those Donzis have chunks of XK coming out their wet exhaust!

    Giddy up!

  10. Dave D.
    Dave D. says:

    Used to spend summers as a kid at lake Okoboji. Stayed on the western shoreline. You could look east across the lake and see this yellow Donzi in it’s underground boathouse. That Donzi along with the numerous Century boats from Okoboji Boats set me up for life. Currently (in Texas) have a ’96 Donzi 22 Classic and two glass Century Coronados (1989 and 1995). Needless to say the sickness starts with those early impressions. Keep up the excellent work.

  11. 72 Hornet
    72 Hornet says:

    Dave D, you have the right boat from Okoboji! We have had alot of fun spending afternoons on the terrace above the baothouse enjoying the lake and going out for rides. The photos were taken from that spot. My 66′ Coronado and my 68′ Resorter came from Okoboji Boat Works, (at that time it may have been Gipners Marine.) Come back for our annual Antique and Classic Boat Show at Arnolds Park in front of the Ferris Wheel. It is always the last Saturday in July.

  12. Scott Ales
    Scott Ales says:

    I must confess as well. We have a 1994 Century Resorter behind the house on East Crooked Lake here in Eustis, Fl. I have been told they made Resorters till 1996 but I have never seen another 1994 or newer one.

    Hey, there’s wood in it!

  13. Scott Boldt
    Scott Boldt says:

    My 1st Donzi was a 1969 18′ Classic with a H/M 302 Ford and Volvo 250 outdrive. I took that boat to a bunch of different waters on the East side of the country. I ran the boat on Lake Erie and down in Sarasota, FL for the big waters. (BTW, fishermen somewhere on a fresh water lake in FL didn’t appreciate the sound of a thru hull exhaust being flushed of salt water. LOL) My Classic was lite due to no flotation in it like todays boats. It flew waves nice and flat beating many more high powered boats in ruff water simply because it wasn’t bouncing all over the place & the prop staying in the water.

    With family in the way of a new baby girl, I traded the boat for the larger 22′ Classic model. A boat you sit in rather than on top of. LOL

    I always admired the wooden Chris Crafts growing up in my teens. Almost bought one even as my 1st boat, but ran across the Donzi at a winter boat show. The following Spring I went back to the dealer selling it & bought it.

    If your interested in seeing more great Donzi boats & meeting their owners, the Midwest Donzi Club holds a gathering called “The Awakening of the Horses” in May on Lake Cumberland in KY. Check the club’s website for dates of the gathering. Bring your Donzi down or just visit the gathering to see these wonderful Fiberglass Don Aronow creations.

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