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Amelia Island | Lot 188

1930 Hacker-Craft 30' Triple Cockpit Runabout

$242,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

9 March 2013


  • One of the most coveted boats in the 1930s
  • Bought new by actor Edward Everett Horton, owner for 40 years
  • “Hacker-Craft: America’s Fastest Speed Boats,” as advertised

250 hp, Sterling Petrel, six-cylinder engine. Length: 30 ft.

John Ludwig Hacker was one of the preeminent naval architects of the American 20th century. A prolific designer, beginning his career in the early-1900s, he was among the first designers to espouse the “planing” hull, realizing that in order to go faster, the hull of the boat would have to ride on top of the water, not plow through it. In 1918, he designed six standard runabouts for the Belle Isle Boat and Engine Company, boats that became famous as “Belle Isle Bear Cats,” and launched Hacker to prominence. He established the Hacker Boat Company, and the Dolphin models, both 22 feet and 26 feet, were among his first.

As the 1920s came to an end, America’s obsession with speed extended to all motorized vehicles: airplanes, automobiles, motorcycles, and speed boats. Records were set and broken, and faster hulls and bigger engines were the order of the day. Hacker-Craft boats were among the most coveted, and the 1930 models were introduced to great fanfare.

Hacker’s ads weren’t short of hyperbole: “Hacker-Craft are hand-built. ‘Skimping’ in materials and workmanship is never practiced in the Hacker shops to achieve lower prices. Price-cutting sins against quality—and quality is a paramount consideration in selecting a boat. You’ll discover that Hacker-Craft are not volume production boats. They are carefully and skillfully built from the finest materials known to the boat builders’ art. From their chromium plated cutwaters to their solid oak strut members, every inch of a Hacker-Craft presents a sturdy picture of integrity and wholesome design. From their copper riveted (not screw fastened) double planked bottoms to their luxuriously comfortable genuine leather upholstering, the Hacker-Craft guarantee, enduring quality and greater owner satisfaction, always applies. A Hacker-Craft is never expensive by comparison.”

This 30 foot triple cockpit was purchased new by actor Edward Everett Horton, who used her on Lake George in New York. Horton appeared in “just about every” comedy movie in the 1930s, including three Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals. His career surged again in the 1960s, with appearances on F Troop, Batman, and as the narrator of the “Fractured Fairytales” segment of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. In describing his career, Horton said, “I have my own little kingdom. I do the scavenger parts no one else wants, and I get well paid for it.” In addition to his compound in Encino, California, he enjoyed his cottage on Lake George, and Edward II, until his death in 1970.

The boat then passed into the hands of one Dr. Thorp, who owned it until he died in the early-1980s. It was retrieved from the boathouse where it was stored, and it has since been owned by several prominent boat collectors. It was restored by Morin Boats in Michigan. The hull sides and decks are mostly original, with only a couple planks replaced in the sides where dock impact had occurred over the years and one in the deck. The bottom was replaced with a two-layer WEST system epoxy technique. The leather upholstery was carefully matched to the original Hacker pattern and color. Unfortunately, the original engine has been lost to history, but the boat is now powered by an original 250-horsepower Sterling Petrel six cylinder, which was optional from the factory at a $400 premium. The engine was restored by noted marine engine expert Danny Acierno.

Edward Everett Horton said of his long, successful career, “It’s not that I really need the money, it’s simply that I like money—lots of it. I must admit, I’m sometimes over-frugal.” It’s a testament to the beauty and longevity of this Hacker-Craft to know a man who described himself as “over-frugal” enjoyed owning it for 40 years.

Please note that this boat comes complete with the trailer pictured.

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