Archive for the ‘classic Chris craft boats’ Category

Thunderboat Row, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Dick Cole, Alton Cary, Formula Marine, and offshore boat racing.

Soon, Aronow found that he also had the skills to gather together a team better than most others to build racing boats. That quickly moved onto selling others his boats, both for pleasure and to race. He soon envisioned that for him, rather than clipping coupons in his old age, he could collect rent once a month from the boat building companies that he invented. Those boating companies became 188th Street. He was killed doing his landlord activities.

OK, how does seabuddy tie this stuff into a series of articles about some boats he loves? Let me stick a Don Aronow boat company brand in this write-up. Formula Marine was said to be “The Right Formula For Success”. Its boat was the 233 Formula. Available as a single or twin engine boat. She came with an off-shore deep vee shaped boat bottom. She was 23’ 3” long and 8 feet wide. That boat was a winner and MADE the new company viable. Don sold that company with the new company owners renting the building from him and Don started a new company on the same 188th street.

don aronow 233 formula marine boat photo image racing boat single 409 mercury marine

Restored Don Aronow Formula 233 racing boat

Here is a photo of a 233 raced by Aronow in 1963 (he came in second in the Miami-Key West Race that year in this boat) and first sold it to another racer in early 1964.  It has a single 409 Chevy going into a Mercury Marine outdrive. That engine package was rated at 310 horsepower by Mercury back in 1962-63. It powered the boat to a top speed of just under 65 MPH. Formula Marine Corp. had at the time of sale an address of 2940 Northeast 188th Street, North Miami Beach, FL.

the beatles in formula 233 miami race boat chevy 409 mercruiser mercury marine boat photo image

Don took the Beatles for a boat ride in a Formula 233 racing boat

Formula was sold to Alliance Machine and Foundry in 1964. Another boat builder, Thunderbird, had been brought by them in 1961. Alliance ran these two as sister companies. In 1969, Fuqua Industries acquired both companies.

formula marine 233 catalog boat image photo

A part of the Advertising for Formula Marine Boats showing the 233 model

Thunderboat Row a, 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Aventura, South Florida, Don Aronow, Jim Wynne, Walt Walters, Dave Stirrat, Buddy Smith, Jake Trotter, Alan “Brownie” Brown, Dick Cole, Alton Cary and offshore boat racing.

A good, middle-aged fast life involved with good looking women and fun things to do involved fast boats in south Florida in the early 1960s. Don Aronow, “The King of Thunderboat Row “ coming from North New Jersey quickly found out he was a world class offshore race boat driver. Once he got within the waters off south Florida and the Bahamas, he went from fishing from boats to racing in boats. He already knew the building and land development business. Don was a building contractor up north. He had left NJ with money in his jeans from his commercial building activities up there.

So, he started having boats built that he could race… offshore powerboat race. Busting through waves, running wild surf, jumping his racer over huge freighter wakes, and always, always with the gas pedal throttles wide open and boat speed at full speed ahead. Don always thought It was his job to keep the boat going as fast as it could go. He and Gar Wood, (who was from a different generation of boat racing) are the only two Americans honored with world-wide UIM recognition in the history of boat racing. His racing made 188th Street, North Miami Beach, Fl. and offshore boat racing simply one and the same.

don aronow crystaliner race boat offshore

that is Don Aronow sitting on the bow

Don Aronow started racing wood and fiberglass boats made by others when he first left fishing from boats and started out in boat racing. He raced boats hard and they often fell apart doing his blistering racing pace. These early boats were often named Claudia, named after his first wife. He went from a semi-vee boat bottom design (Crystaliner, for one) to a deep vee boat bottom design during this early time frame.

don aronow fish boat photo image 188th street north miami beach

Don Aronow's Fishing Cruiser when he first came to the Miami area

Seventh report, Sunnyland ACBS Antique and Classic Boat Show, Tavares, Florida, Chris Craft Cobra

One of the most recognizable “wow” boats ever offered for sale is the Cobra by Chris Craft. Chris Craft made this one model its image boat in the mid-1950s.

chris craft cobra classic boat photo image tail fin wood mahogany planked

The tail fin makes this Chris Craft classic Cobra boat model

Ever since Chris Craft figured out how to make money in a nation-wide depression economy every year since 1936, they then wanted to be THE boat builder for every man, woman, and family in the world. In a very wide mix of boat models, one boat model was selected to lead in its lust factor.

chris craft cobra script tail fin

close-up of the script on the tail fin

The profit from other models would cover whatever this one would cost. This one was the one that should turn heads on the water or at a boat show. Women remembered it. Kids stopped in their tracks when they saw one and talked about it. Men wanted it.

chris craft cobra classic wood boat photo image

fully restored and a real "looker"

For the underwater hull shape, Chris Craft used the same naval architectural lines of one of their existing boat models as the running surface.  They had already sold 503 of those hulls.

chris craft cobra dash wood classic runabout boat photo image

note the alligator texture touches in the cockpit

To that underwater running surface they crafted a sleek, stretched, curvy bright finished planked mahogany boat that started at the bow as high, wide, and bold and then  tapered aft to nothing. Next, Chris Craft took out the back seat. Then they added a “Chris Craft” gold fin. Finally, they added alligator upholstery touches. Like seabuddy said, it is a “wow” design themed boat.

chris craft cobra long deck boat model photo image

Just look at the finish of this boat, top shelf, in seabuddy's book

She was a 20’, 10” boat with only one seat, so naturally they put a big, loud, and bold 200 horsepower Hemi Chrysler in most of them. A few Chris Craft Cobras topped that engine with an even more powerful 285 horsepower Cadillac Crusader from Detroit car dealer Cal Connell. Only ten of the 55-56 boats built had Chris Craft six cylinder engines in them.

chris craft cobra wood planked boat model photo image

single cockpit seating


Figure on 45-50 MPH speeds out of a Hemi powered boat. Add another five MPH for boats powered with the dual four barrel Cadillac 285 engine.

chris craft cobra engine wood runabout planked mahogany boat image photo

restored engine classic chris craft cobra wood runabout boat photo image

Classic Chris Craft modified wood raceboat from Lake Dora, Mount Dora, Tavares Antique and Classic Boat Show 5th report

Sleeper is an antique and classic planked mahogany wooden runabout that has been modified into a race boat by Harold Bauer. She has a 1955 to 1966 racing career over which she was regional high points champion 4 times. This is a boat that raced against Curt Brayer and his Dancing Bear and Forest Johnson and his Prowlers in the F Service Runabout class.

chris craft racing runabout wood antique and classic boat image photo

unrestored Chris Craft twin cockpit wood boat modified for racing years ago

She is a hard riding, porpoising, but fast race boat. While top speeds were over 70 MPH, her crew reported peeing blood after a race. Powered by a 95 horsepower straight shaft inboard by Chris Craft when she was built in 1931, she was re-powered as a racing boat Chris Craft. First Buick, then 390 Ford engines got the boat’s speed up. These engines were moved aft within the hull, a Casalle V-drive installed with a jack shaft to a Borg Warner transmission, a Cary two blade propeller selected, and the two cockpits relocated into forward dual cockpits with bucket seats for both the driver and the riding mechanic, a fuel tank was located under the fore deck, and the hull was fiberglassed. So seabuddy labels her both a wood and a fiberglass antique and classic boat.

chris craft racing runabout transom wooden planked mahogany antique and classic

Note how much wider she is at the chines, which was an owner addition for racing

The boat also had her structure strengthened with extra bracing, while her chines were really widened (see seabuddy’s photo), and a cavitation plate was added for stability and control. This Chris Craft racing runabout is not a Chris Craft Racing Runabout model, she was a standard production pleasure boat modified by her owner.

chris craft racing runabout 390 ford engine f service runabout

Ford 390 vee-drive re-located aft engine


Wood Chris Craft Capri mid-Restoration

Chris Craft Capri 19 wooden boat restoration

She is right-side up now

Chris Craft made 786 of these 19 foot Capri wooden runabouts over four years in the late 1950’s. It was a popular boat model. With a LOA of 18’ 7”, she fits in many garages. At a weight of 2100 to 2300 lbs. she is easy to tow. Her beam of 6’ 3” makes her a good boathouse boat.

This one is shown mid-restoration here. She is having a “no soak” trailer able bottom as old wood needed to be replaced and the owner wants to take her anywhere, drop her in for a quick spin, and without any need to soak up or swell the bottom planks on this bottom.

Proper use of modern materials within the original Chris Craft mahogany wood planks and wood framing structure allow for the easy trailer, launch, and use of this classic boat. When this boat sits in the water, ready for a quick spin around the lake, one does not see anything different than what she showed when she was first built. She is an ideal Classic Boat Show boat.

classic chris craft wood runabout boat photo

She looks and is "as built" by Chris Craft boats in the 1950s

Ever expect to get to Annapolis, MD this spring? Stop by Dave Hannam’s boat restoration shop in Annapolis see this stylish Chris Craft Capri wooden runabout undergo its steps into a thing of beauty for yourself. More info here…

Hey, go late enough into the spring-summer and Dave will maybe have some gas in the 20 gallon tank and you might be able to go for a final test ride with the boat owner.

Restored Chris Craft Capri Wooden Runabout

Restored Chris Craft Capri Wooden Runabout


Classic Wood Trailer Boat Restoration

Dave Hannam’s boat shop in Annapolis, Maryland is doing a restoration of a classic  wood boat that is being remade with easy trailer travel and usage as its goal, as well as a great classic boat. Dave is using his skill to make a classic boat owner’s wide-ranging travel plans into one that allows for “Have Chris Craft, will Travel”. This wooden runabout boat is a Chris Craft Capri 19.

Stop by Classic Watercraft Restoration and see top notch work as well as a boat restoration that is slanted towards easy boat trailering and a in and out of the water style of usage of a classic mahogany planked wooden runabout Chris Craft. Inspect how proper use of epoxy and 10 oz finishing cloth in the right places on a wooden boat bottom makes it a leak proof or waterproof wood boat bottom. A “no swell” bottom is ideal for a trailered classic wooden boat. Launch and she is ready to use. No waiting days for the seams to swell up and close.

wood bottom transom restoration restore epoxy finishing cloth leak prrof waterproof

mid restoration photo of classic wood boat

plywood classic boat bottom bow

sheets and strips of plywood

This boat is a single 9 lamination plywood thick bottom were you see big sheets of plywood and two layers of planking thick were my photos show where the plywood was cut into strips to follow the curve of the vee in the bow area. Do not worry if there is a drip or two shown, lots of shaping, sanding, and flaring is yet to come. This is a wood boat under restoration, not a finished restoration of a wooden boat.

wooden boat bottom plywood fiberglass epoxy 5200

close-up of plywood

Please note the new wood at the forward chine area.

wood boat chine restoration

new and old wood to create a replacement chine

This piece of wood was added back into the area where the original construction of this boat had a chine. Note the color difference in the African and Philippe mahogany wood. No problem as this area will have bottom paint. Previous restorations simply took the easy route and rounded that sharp line away. That rounding would be the faster, easier way. Dave wanted the boat back to original in cutting, stopping, and throwing the bow wave down and away from the cockpit passengers. Often, boats that do not have such a chine shape have spray knockers added to this job.

More at …

boat test Chris Craft Cobra, test Racing Runabout?

Chris Craft Cobra classic boat photo image

classic Chris Craft Cobra boat only( forward) cockpit

The 21’ Cobra Chris Craft was the same as a 19’ Racing Runabout from the waterline down. Chris Craft boats liked the sales of the 503 boats that they built of their 18’ 11” Racing Runabout model that they added to the hull design above the water line color stripe so the Cobra classic boat measured 20’ 10” and the boat at the deck rub rail was widened from 6’ 1” for the Racing Runabout model to 6’ 9” for the Chris Craft Cobra. They then added either a big block Cadillac V-8 or a Chrysler Hemi. It was one fast classic boat!

While the Racing Runabout was a success in the number of units and the number of model years (1948 -1954) it was offered, the Coba only sold 55 units. Why? Some say price. Some say it was too special. Some say it only had one bench seat where the Racing Runabout had two benches in two cockpits.

When seabuddy boat tested a Racing Runabout the three on board was divided two in the front cockpit and one in the aft cockpit. It seemed natural for the size of the three of us. Our restored classic had a well running in line engine. It was the right engine for the Racing Runabout. The boat was lighter, however, than a Cobra by about 400 lbs. This weight coupled with the different engine made the goal of knowing what it feels like to drive a Chris craft Cobra by testing a 19’ Chris Craft Racing Runabout on a wide open lake a false test. One note, I did love the ride and handling of the Racing Runabout.

These are seabuddy photos of a 21’ Chris Craft Cobra, but they do not show the 19’ boat I tested.

wood Cobra model Chris Craft with fiberglass tail fin boat photo image

wood Chris Craft Cobra inboard runabout with its signature tail fin

Baby Gar V / Gar Wood / Chris Craft / Liberty engine

Gar Wood Chris Craft 33' Baby Gar classic wood boat photo

seabuddyonboats photo of Gar Wood Chris Craft 33 ft "Baby Gar"

Here is a great story about Antique and Classic boats. Gar Wood raced his 33 foot Baby Gar V and her sister Baby Gar IV both built to a design by Chris Craft’s Christopher Columbus Smith. She and IV raced down the Hudson River alongside the Twentieth Century Limited train on the river edge RR tracks from Albany to NYC. She beat the train! The race started at 6:53 A. M. on May 27, 1935 as the train rocketed by the boats. It ended at 9:50 A. M. when Wood pulled into the pier in NYC seventeen minutes before the train passed.

Truth be told, the faster Baby Gar V broke down and Gar Wood had to wait some seven minutes for the IV to catch up so he could transfer to it from V as V had proved to be the faster boat. This happened about half way, around Poughkeepsie, NY.

She is a boat with a step (or an athwartships break) in her running surface. Chris Craft and Gar Wood had promoted the idea of a bottom step to increase speed in a runabout. They are usually credited with making the refinements that made it a useful race boat feature.

Another aspect of this Baby Gar is her engine. Gar Wood was a rich man in the 1920s and raced boats as his hobby. He had gotten World War I aircraft engines as war surplus at bargain rates as he had bought piles of them at a time. These engines were known as the Liberty Engine. Light weight for that time, they were offered in boats by Gar Wood at horsepower rating from 400 Hp to as high as 550 Hp.

Baby Gar V is one of the 65 boats called “Baby Gar”. All had these Liberty Engines for power that had been designed by Packard Motors and Hall Scott Aircraft Engines.

Classic restored wooden Chris Craft Constellation

classic wood 30' Chris Craft 1964 Constellation boat photo image

deck house side of the wood boat 1964 Chris craft Constellation

Chris Craft boats made this one in its similar series of 30 foot wood cabin cruisers from 1963-1968 which they named as a Constellation model. Constellation is a storied Chris Craft model name first used in the 1954 model year as the name for the 53’ flagship model of the Chris Craft cruiser fleet. This name has the prestige and respect that fans of the brand love. It seemingly stands for all that a wood cabin cruiser should be in most folk’s minds.

These wood boats were built by a publicly held Chris Craft Corporation. The various members of the Smith family had sold their holdings in the family business on February 7, 1960. The sales price of the company was about one year’s sales volume and roughly 16 times the profit. They were building about 8,000 boats then with their 3,500 employees.  At the time of the sale, the first non-family person became responsible to run the Chris Craft boat building business.

Starting in 1963, “Connies” came in 27’ to 57’ sizes. By 1964, the Chris Craft Connies range expanded to be as long as a 65’ diesel yacht. This and other 30 footers were somewhat re-styled over the years that they were in production and had good sales success. Chris Craft made 160 examples of this 1964 wood boat. The 30’ boats had a beam of 10’ 8” and weighted 8,920 lbs. dry. They carried a fuel capacity of 100 gallons. The keel, chines, frames, stringers, ribs, and planking were made of oak, fir, and Philippine Mahogany. The inner bottom planking was marine grade plywood. All of the side and the bottom outer planking was made out of Philippine Mahogany wood.

These photos were taken by seabuddy at the Wooden Boat Restoration, LLC boat shop. Call George Hazzard at 410.928.5500 or please see or for more information.

chine on wood 30' Chris Craft Constellation cabin cruiser boat photo

reworking chine 1964 Chris Craft Constellation 30' wood boat photo

Wooden Power Boat, a racing runabout

This one is a 1954 Chris craft. An ideal mahogany classic two cockpit runabout. With a big flathead Chris Craft she gives a great ride at normal antique and classic boat speeds and a real thrill when the throttle is opened up even more.

Specs on the boat is 18’ 11” in length and she has a beam of 6’ 1”. Her overall weight runs in the 2,100 to 2,400 lbs. area. Chris Craft built 503 of them in a production series from 1948 to 1954.

She is not a bow rider and one must change which cockpit to sit in at dockside, as this power boat is a true runabout and not a utility. She is almost all deck, engine room, two rows of seats and little, if any, walking around room in the cockpit areas.

I got a ride on a Pennsylvania Lake in a similar boat that belongs to a friend that was also lovingly restored and its ride and handling during that fresh water cruise was really a terrific experience. That one had an extremely special Chris Craft engine rebuild by an out of state noted engine builder of classic engines.

Chris Craft offered this wood power boat model in either a natural wood stained and highly varnished hull and deck or as a painted red and white finished powerboat. Most came with the seating areas finished in a Chinese red or red hue, but blue was a choice, as I understand it, but not in all of the model years the Racing Runabout was built post WWII.

The photos are from Moores Marine,  that did this runabout’s restoration. Great workmanship and attention to detail is shown in the work coming from Moores you can see.

This one is a 1954 model Chris Craft

early on in the restoration work