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Motorboat Monday: 455Ci in a Kindsvater Jet Boat

Chris Haining January 16, 2017 Motorboat Monday 7 Comments

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455 Cubic Inches. Oldsmobile V8 power. In a boat which displaces so little it’s practically on the plane when it’s not moving.

This glorious machine was glinting away on the Classic Motor Boat Association stand at the 2017 London International Boat Show. And I’ll bet that, given an opportunity, it would have been one of the very loudest vessels on display, as well as one of the smallest.

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I took a great many photos of this water-borne projectile, in an effort to capture its feel, spirit and potential. Unfortunately, though, the one that I would have used as my cheat-sheet with specification and history turned out to be hopelessly blurred when I downloaded it from the camera.

So, all we’ve got to go by is the following facts. The engine is a 455ci Oldsmobile V8, with non-silenced blunderbuss-type exhausts. It runs through a Berkeley jet-drive in the stern, and it was built in 1973.

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It was built by a shadowy organisation named Kindsvater, hailing from Fresno, California. I have to confess that (like many dozens of other companies out there) I had never heard of Kindsvater, but having seen this one I have an urge to find out more.

Sadly, the internet hasn’t yielded much in the way of info, other than this dusty old forum from a few years back. I only wish I had taken the time to discuss the boat with its owner, who was probably on the stand somewhere. They’re a great bunch of guys in the Classic Motor Boat Association, enthusiasts all, and a visit to their little corner of the boat show is always a bit of a highlight.

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And seeing this boat was, too. I can only imagine what travelling in it at full chat might be like. There’s no windscreen, so high speeds would be a full-frontal assault. The hull is very shallow vee, too – I’d guess a deadrise at the stern of little more than five degrees. This really is a surface-skimmer – and as per the boats seen in that Performanceboats forum would seem to confirm, is more at home on a lake than at sea. In essence this makes it the kind of boat that really isn’t particularly suited to the UK.

But what a thing! I remember reading on the stand that this particular example had been imported from the US by a collector of vintage warbirds, which is a relatively fitting provenance. I also remember that a fair degree of restoration has been required to bring the boat to its present condition.

If the owner of this extraordinary machine is reading (I imagine this post will have some impact on Kindsvater Google searches from now on), please get in touch and tell us more. And well done. Well done indeed.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)

  • Batshitbox

    I think I can imagine what this sounds like when it’s running.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QDHLBXs1JY

    (Look, Ma, no off color ‘motorboat’ jokes, ain’t I a good kid?)

  • Alff

    The were everywhere in the 70s. Further demonstration of America’s naval superiority.

    • P161911

      I remember how much my parent’s hated them and the booming racket from them at their lake place. Now I really want one.

      • Alff

        When it comes down to it, they’re not good for much .. .’cept being awesome. They’re a Liquid Mullet, a Harley of the Sea.

  • outback_ute

    Not bad for 1973.

    I remember chatting with a guy years ago who raced a boat and he said “a Chevy 350 is not bad in a car but in a boat it is just a social/family type of motor”. He had a Keith Black big block in his boat and would do 140 mph plus on the water. Go racing now and you are spending $100k+ on the motor.

  • I_Borgward

    “it was built in 1973.”

    By god, but it was. All kinda late 60’s, but more brown and shaggy.

    When I was 15, I spent a weekend with a friend’s family at a lake cabin, and a neighbor there let me take the wheel of his V8-powered jet boat. I hadn’t really grasped the concept of using a jet to steer instead of a rudder, and as we started closing in on the opposite shore, I let off the gas and turned the wheel.

    The boat didn’t change course.

    Shoreline’s getting closer.

    Uh oh.

    Finally, the neighbor grabbed the wheel from aside me, cranked it left and mashed the gas pedal. We hurtled sideways, motor bellowing and the hull surging beneath us… ho-o-o-o-o-o-ly crap!

    Certainly made my Dad’s sailboat seem serene.

  • Distraxi

    Shallow vee is pretty normal for jet boats. The main benefit of a jet is the ability to operate in shallow water, and shallow vees not only draw a lot less both when stationary and planing, they get on the plane much earlier, meaning you can mess about in a few inches of water at reasonably sane speeds. The trade off is you get pounded to pieces over waves and they skitter sideways in turns: the latter may be considered a feature not a bug in some circles…