What Price Beauty?
Jim Genovese first saw his Chris-Craft Cobra sell for $40,000 in the early 1980s. In late 2010, he paid $130,000. In five years, he contends it will be worth almost $500,000. Hence, these boats may be one of the better investments today. But one of the most challenging aspects of buying an antique boat is determining a fair price.
“It’s easy to calculate depreciation on antique classic boats that manufacturers built a lot of,” Freedom Boat Service’s Aaron Kelly says. “Where it becomes tricky is determining the value of boats that they built only 28 of, and maybe there’s only 10 still in existence. How do you put a value on something like that? It’s almost impossible.
“They’re worth what someone is willing to pay.”
Kelly says: “I would put antique classic boats in the same realm as gold, silver and oil.”
Build or Buy
Most boat history buffs point to the mid-1960s as the turning point from wood to fiberglass. But even today, several wood-boat manufacturers are still cranking out new models. And for the intrepid DIY guy, there are some kit or plan builders too. Here are a few:
Hacker — One of the few and arguably most popular builders today, it produces mahogany sport boats from the keel up to suit your fondest dream.
Glen-L Marine — Want to build your own? Glen-L offers plans and patterns for building runabouts, cruisers, skiffs and racers — you imagine it, they have a plan.
Grand-Craft — It offers a line of vintage-inspired runabouts.
Skiff Craft — Lapstrake models span a 24- to 33-foot range.
Saetta Boats — It uses CNC technology to craft its Saetta Sport Boat Kit in Zellwood, Florida.
Here are a few organizations that can help you find and buy a classic, as well as provide restoration:
Antique Boat America (antiqueboatamerica.com) — Offers a vast inventory of classic wooden boats of all makes and styles.
Antique Boat Clubs
Arguably the best way to get started in the wooden-boat game is to join a club. Here are three:
Antique & Classic Boat Society (acbs.org) — The largest resource, with Canadian and U.S. chapters.
Century Boat Club (centuryboatclub.com)
The Gar Wood Society (garwood.com)