A Lot Has Changed for Chris-Craft, Except Its Focus on Quality Boats

Updated 2:36 PM ET, Tue July 22, 2014
A Lot Has Changed for Chris-Craft, Except Its Focus on Quality Boats
Few boat-building companies have an extended backstory like Chris-Craft Inc. What started as a teenage boy hand-building boats in Michigan has evolved into one of the most widely respected yacht manufacturers in the industry, and is now based in Sarasota, FL.

At just 13-years-old, Chris Columbus Smith started handcrafting boats known as "skiffs" and "punts" in 1874. By 1881, he was in full production mode with his brother Hank. With a business sponsorship, the Smiths were building the world's fastest single-step hydroplanes. Their financier, Jack Ryan, formally joined the company in 1910, creating the name The Smith Ryan Boat Company, and mass production of runabouts took off. The company name changed to Chris-Craft in 1924.

The company stayed in the Smith family for several decades as Chris' son, Jay, took the helm in 1927, when Chris-Craft was recognized as the largest manufacturer of mahogany-constructed power boats. Jay remained in that position for 31 years until he retired.

A tumultuous economy forced the company to scale back production in the 1930s and early 40s, and during World War II, it began building 12,000 various vessels for the US Navy and Army. By the 1950s, production was on the upswing again, and Chris-Craft became one of the first boat manufacturers to venture into fiberglass construction in 1955. And in 1971, the company built its last mahogany boat.

In the 1980s, the company began to see some major shifting in ownership. A small group of investors led by Murray Industries purchased the boat division of the company in 1981. Then, in 1989, Outboard Marine Corporation bought Chris-Craft Boats. After OMC's bankruptcy in 2000, Genmar took over ownership, which is also when News Corporation bought Chris-Craft Industries. Genmar then sold its portion of Chris-Craft to Stellican Ltd. And Stellican bought the trademark from News Corporation, and Chris-Craft Inc. was one entity once again.

But all the while during the financial juggling, Chris-Craft remained true to turning out first-rate, award-winning, record-breaking vessels that won major international races and gained notoriety by providing its sleek speedboats on the 1980s television show, Miami Vice.

Today, Chris-Craft offers more than 20 models, from 20-foot speedboats to 60-foot yachts - all stunning and all powerful. A search on the POP Yachts' website reveals more than 110 active Chris-Craft listings, including some hard-to-find beauties like the fully restored 1963 21 Super Sport pictured above. Peruse our current listings to find a piece of Chris-Craft history or a modern model - we have plenty of both categories.

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Nice Article. Thank you

Cheryl R. from Redding, CA, posted on JUN 4
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