Classic boat: a 75 hp Evinrude makes this Glasspar quote fly
In the first years after World War II, boat sales increased rapidly. The returning GIs wanted it all and had the savings to make big purchases. There was a pent-up demand for cars and homes as well as an expansion of hobby interests.
But by the mid-1950s, every builder in the boating industry had to have a strong sales message to be competitive. Sales growth was no longer automatic or predictable. Newer models of larger capacity engines among major manufacturers dominated the market. This surge of innovation among boat engine manufacturers has also increased sales of inboard boats, as a wide variety of new outboard motor boat choices have become available.
With the increase in demand for higher horsepower outboards, boat designs naturally evolved and were both larger and heavier to accommodate them. An example of this demand is reflected in the explosive growth of Evinrude outboards in less than ten years. During this period, they released a 75 hp four-cylinder engine.
This motor powers the Glasspar Citation shown in this photo. This is the same engine that pushed Hugh Entrop to a record 122.97 mph with his specially designed 14-foot seaplane. He “set the world on fire” with this top speed straight away. Evinrude was suddenly more than a manufacturer of pleasure boat engines – it was now the popular choice for racers. I still remember how it blew me away as an active boater in my teenage years when this record was set with an Evinrude powered runner.
Evinrude outboards were actually designed by Brooks Stevens, an âexteriorâ industrial designer. He was both a âfriendâ of the company and a consultant to hire. This styling distinction gave Evinrude a sophisticated bonnet in a variety of colors and finishes that exceeded the competition.
Fiberglass boats and boat parts became common during this prolonged post-war period. Boats are usually made in two molds: one for the hull, one for the deck. Often, wooden frames and spars are added inside the hull and deck molds to increase the strength of the boat. In the 1950s and 1960s, a plywood floor covered with fiberglass was also added to the interior part of the boat’s hull.
Glasspar was one of the early boat builders at the time, founded around 1948 by Bill Tritt in Southern California. His first fiberglass products were parts of sailboats (masts and spars for masts) in addition to small boats.
Tritt made the spars as well as small boats (mostly the size of sails and yachts). He also built a 21 foot single cabin cruiser. In the 1950s, he was hired to build a new sports car, launched by a design commissioned for Major Ken Brooks of Newport Beach, California. Originally called the Brooks Boxer, the car became the G2. About 70 of the G2s are still there.
The Glasspar body was originally designed for the Henry J frame. GM builders are said to have purchased three of the raw bodies. They measured and dissected them, and the bottom line led to the Corvette. And this design generated the need for a fiberglass hardtop. Soon after, similar hard tops were produced for MGs, Porsches and other sports cars.
The combination of “Glas” and “spar” reflected its business niche, hence the name of the company. In the mid-1950s, Glasspar was “America’s largest manufacturer of fiberglass boats.”
This 1962 Glasspar Citation model is a fiberglass family boat. Glasspar first introduced its Citation model in 1960. Two rows of seats and a spacious cockpit provide plenty of room to accommodate several generations on board. It has a 79 inch beam for good stability and the ability to take larger engines. Engine controls for throttle and shifting as well as forward steering from the cockpit add to the choices of more powerful engines. It is a trailer boat allowing use throughout Chesapeake Bay from its garage in Philadelphia, PA.
This photo is from the meeting of the Antique Outboard Motor Club, Inc. (AOMCI) in May’s Landing, NJ. The AOMCI is a club mentioned under the status of “Club Brand” by the ACBS. At this meeting, parts and engines were for sale as well as exhibits of old restored outboards. There are no fees or charges, or membership requirements to attend most of their meetings.
By Chris “Seabuddy” Brown