St. John's

27 July 2013

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Lot 174

1930 Gar Wood 28' Triple Cockpit Runabout "Carnelian"

  • Hull no. 32072

Sold for $165,000

280 hp, 413 cu. in. 1965 Chrysler V-8 engine. Length: 28 ft.

  • Only 121 examples originally built in 1930
  • One of only five known to exist
  • Tandem axle trailer included

Garfield Arthur Wood was one of the first “rock-star” industrialists in America. After inventing, and carefully patenting, the hydraulic mechanism for dump trucks, Gar Wood Industries became a successful enterprise. World War I increased demand for the hydraulic devices, as army trucks that were building and repairing roads under enemy fire were able to deposit their loads quickly and get out of harm’s way.

In 1916, he began to realize his dream and passion to dominate powerboat racing. He purchased Miss Detroit, the winner of the 1915 Gold Cup, from the association that sponsored her. This began a six-year boat building partnership with Chris Smith (Chris-Craft), which changed racing on the water forever.

Gar Wood was personally involved in the design and construction of his race boats, and his attention to detail showed. He won the Gold Cup Championship from 1917 through 1921, at which time the rules committee outlawed the use of aircraft engines to try to lessen Wood’s domination of the sport. Gar Wood was disillusioned by this development, and he decided to pursue racing on the international stage. He won the International Harmsworth Trophy in 1920, beginning an unprecedented string of annual Harmsworth victories.

Since Gar Wood Industries was very familiar with the process of selling their products to the government, they also had an inside track on buying from the government. After World War I, Gar Wood bought 4,500 surplus Liberty V-12 engines from various manufacturers and then formed the Detroit Marine-Aero Engine Company to convert them to marine use. The availability of these engines prompted Wood to begin building 33-foot “Baby Gar” runabouts for the wealthy few who could afford a boat that cost three times the average three-bedroom home in America.

Gar Wood’s new, purpose-built Marysville, Michigan, manufacturing plant opened New Years’ Day 1930, just two months after the stock market crash. Optimism was in order, as the boat company had built 224 boats in the old, cramped facility in Algonac the previous year. The full effect of the economic crash had not yet been felt, but the new facility was judged capable of accommodating two to three times the previous production volume. However, only 193 boats were produced in 1930, and six more years would pass before Gar Wood surpassed that production volume again.

This 28-foot, triple cockpit runabout, known as Carnelian, was originally delivered to Mary E. Mayne in Seattle, Washington, on May 7, 1930. Interestingly, she also purchased a 28-foot Sedan (Hardtop) the same day. At the time, it was powered by a Chrysler 150 horsepower in-line engine, though it has since been re-powered with a 280-horsepower 1965 Chrysler 413 V-8 engine for improved reliability and performance. Additionally, it has been equipped with a “Tahoe” fiberglass bottom. In 1930, only 121 examples of the 28-foot hulls were built, of those only five are known to exist today. Please note that Carnelian also includes its tandem axle trailer.

While the story of Gar Wood, the man, and Gar Wood, the company, is interesting, it must not be overlooked that Gar Wood boats were some of the best engineered, best built, and most beautiful ever produced. Boatbuilding was a personal passion for Gar Wood, and his other endeavors allowed him the financial freedom to build in the quality and attention to detail for which he was known.

Alain Squindo

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