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The Chris Craft logo is associated with both superior speed and craftsmanship. Founded by Christopher Columbus Smith around the 1920s, Chris Craft Co. still stands as a leader in producing high-powered, luxurious leisure boats. These pleasingly varnished, mahogany masterpieces are well known and easily identified by antique boat enthusiasts.
The success of the Christ Craft vessels was perpetuated by Smith's flourishing racing career. The quality of his models was tested through competitive speedboat racing, and the Christ Craft superiority rang true as the boats consistently proved victorious. During the era of prohibition, speedboat racing was embraced by gamblers, industrialists, and mobsters. These men readily financed the high-powered designs of craftsman such as Christopher Columbus Smith, John L. Hacker, and George Crouch. As Smith's boats started to receive awards such as the coveted Gold Cup of the American Power Boat Association, the Chris Craft name started to become a star among nautical enthusiasts. He continued to thrive in the speedboat competitions and his string of victories further accelerated the explosion of his company's success.
His standard, 26 foot runabout was powered with a Hall-Scott four-cylinder 100 HP engine along with electric lighting, reverse gear, and water-cooled exhaust. In 1921, the two available models, one with a painted finish on mahogany, and another with a full mahogany hull, retailed for $3,950 and $4,450 respectively.
As the years progressed, so did the quality of the Chris Craft Runabout. In 1926, the Smiths displayed their first boat at the 1926 National Motor Boat Show in New York, New York. Their publicity fostered great appeal as they were considered as the world's fastest boats. The 1926 models featured easy to operate controls, unparalleled safety, and comfort with the most luxurious ride. These new models featured a large, 150 horsepower Kermath engine and reinforced tilted glass windshields, innovative for their time. The models continued to improve as the company expanded and the Christ Craft boat manufacturing reign flourished. The elegant, barrel-back triple cockpit (1932) was a slightly altered version of the preceding runabouts.