A Craving for Classic Boats

Why oldies always seem to be goodies.
Classic boats make memories
Classic boats hold a special place in our hearts. Tim Bower

I’m always curious about the psychology influencing the purchase of a boat. And because my good friend Chuck Larson perceives the world through a kaleidoscopic lens, I was especially intrigued when he whipped out his phone at the Lake View Inn bar after telling me and barkeep Wally he was going to look at a boat the next morning. Chuck was quite excited.

“My wife found this cool Glastron on Marketplace,” Chuck said, holding up his cellphone.

“Ah!” Wally said. “A GT-160. That’s a classic.”

“With a 115 Johnson,” Chuck said. “I think this might be that James Bond boat.”

“Not quite,” Wally said. “It was a GT-150 that jumped the dike in Live and Let Die.”

I gave Wally my incredulous “How do you know this stuff?” look before I flicked through the boat photos on Chuck’s phone. This was a blue-and-white 1975 model with that classic wraparound windshield. The asking price was $5,300.

“Chuck, this is an old boat. You better have Dan the Outboard Man go with you to at least thump the transom,” I said. But in the back of my mind, I was thinking I’d really like to have this boat myself. When I was a teenager, a friend had use of a gold metal-flake Glastron with a pair of tall Mercury 100 hp outboards, and the time we spent on Green Lake in that boat is a core memory. All afternoon, other speedboats would challenge us, their skippers giving us the “Wanna race?” signal, right hand pumping a phantom throttle. Nobody ever beat that boat.

I spend a lot of time evaluating new boats, but I really find the lines of a classic boat appealing. Same for the profile of a vintage motorcycle. We own a 1964 Shasta camper and a brilliant chrome 1947 Sunbeam toaster. In winter, I bomb around on a 1967 Arctic Cat snowmobile. Part of the appeal, I think, is that this is stuff that can be repaired, and I can usually do it myself. The initial investment is also low. Chuck could have a lot of boating fun for $5,300 in that Glastron—today, that’s about the price of one Mercury Racing Lab Finished propeller.

Read Next: One Classic Glastron Rescue Leads to Another

Science has identified a psychological phenomenon called the reminiscence bump. There is a key period between the ages of 10 to 30 when we stash away strong emotional connections to books, films, cars, boats, sports stars and especially music. That explains why I could never get into grunge or hip-hop, but the crackling energy of a Jimmy Page riff still excites some deep recess of my brain.

A few years ago, on a total whim, we purchased a pretty little mahogany plywood runabout, a 1951 Dunphy with an Evinrude Lark outboard. This boat has rather low freeboard and a rakish sheer for the era, a big white steering wheel, and—this is so cool—a big chrome spotlight on the foredeck. From a purely functional standpoint, a new boat would be superior in every way. But no new boat pulls at me like the Dunphy. I just love to look at it.

Someone snapped up that Glastron before Chuck got to see it. Now I’m on the lookout for a GT-150 because what’s cooler than Bond, James Bond? Not much.

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