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.
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.
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.
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)