Retro Boat Design

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by ZID, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. ZID
    Joined: Feb 2011
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    Location: Canada

    ZID industrial designer

    Is what's old new again in the boating world like in other transportation and product design these days?! Ford & Dodge did a superb job re-creating the new Mustang & Challenger with a perfect balance retroactive aesthetics!

    I see some on-line retro power boat designs which are quite slick and inspiring! I am venturing into boating building (for my 40s) and wonder if there are others who are dreaming along the waves of a retro design with modern & efficient power technology? Is anyone or company working in the direction of hightech-old look? Perhaps exploring turbo-diesel-electric hybrid engines? Composite hulls with old school wood deck trim?

    Any advice/thoughts/direction would be grand folks....much appreciated!
  2. duluthboats
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Location: Minneapolis,MN, USA

    duluthboats Senior Dreamer

    1 person likes this.
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    New boat purchases are discretionary funds expenditures. In an economic climate such as today's, selecting to focus on a narrow portion, of a discretionary fund driven market, seems, well silly, frankly. I don't mean to insult you, but boat sales are flat to say the least. There is a huge glut of boats on the market currently and in the foreseeable future, so new builds are going to wait a bit. Limiting you product line to less then less then 10% of the current market, again seems to be less then a sound business model.
    Don't get me wrong, there are custom yachts being built everyday, including the one I just landed a bid on, but customs always sell, because they're the expression of their owner's exact desires (or there about). People always pay for these, but someone with a hunk of cash looking for a 20's era look-a-like to take a chance on, wouldn't be a significant portion of the market, particularly now.

    To directly answer your question, yes, there are several companies that build high end runabouts, some with digitally perfect fake wood finishes, so you don't have to varnish the darn thing! They're starving too, unless also diversified into larger segments of the market.
  4. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Gee, several high end retro , leading edge , boatbuilders around. You would have to study your intended market to understand, use, demand and pricing . Typically these are lake boats with environmental, size restrictions in regions frequented by a wealthy base of boatowners who desire and can pay for , the best. ..
  5. Tim B
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: Southern England

    Tim B Senior Member

    The difference between boats and cars is that with the latter, you can put pretty much any body-shell (within reason) on pretty much any chassis. It's the latter which makes it a nice car to drive, and the former which gets the looks. Unfortunately, Boats are somewhat more closely coupled than that. You can use styling in places, but hull design and superstructure design has moved a lot from the middle of the last century.

    With powerboats, designers have learnt to make the hulls more sea-kindly, which you will appreciate greatly if you get caught out.

    Generally "retro" boats perform like (usually a bit better than) the boats they imitate. Consequently, because most powerboat owners don't want a boat that drinks fuel at 35kts and slams horribly in a chop content themselves with newer, better specced, and often cheaper designs.

    However, as with all design work, your success will lie with fulfilling the customer's specification. You may find that there is a market for inshore and lake vessels. You might also entice the econuts with electric power which is beginning to be a viable option.

    Good luck.
  6. CaptBill
    Joined: Jan 2010
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    Location: Savannah,Ga

    CaptBill CaptBill

    If you had a build technique that was quick and efficient for these, I would think you would have a hit. Correct me if I am wrong but those boats seem rather complex to build with all the curvature they had. Those stern are awesome. And you know they are strong, just look at them. The same curvature that is so mesmerizing to look at is also why it is also so strong, I bet. I would imagine it is the high level of craftsmanship to do something like that that is the deterrent ($$). There has to be a way achieve that with modern methods. What if you could pull it off with a Boston Whaler-ish approach?
  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Again, boats and yachts in particular are discretionary funds commodities. We need cars, even if we can afford more then one or some style or preformance, we can generally find a way to justify them. Boats and yachts, are pure decadence.

    Some of the most stylish craft, are also the most difficult to build and costly to own. This is as it should be, just like the prom queen you could never attract. Some will always be able to indulge themselves in a splendid creation, homes, cars, yachts, women, clever bookies. The rest of us have little choice, but to live with the Ford Tauruses of the boating world, lest we get lucky with a derelict or the good side of an angry spouse in a divorce.

    Mahogany runabouts are the epithetic of luxury. The finely fitted planks, brightly finished hulls and bragging rights on the number of total coats of varnish, aren't for the average man, nor the working class. I have one, not a drop of paint. It's my own design and build. I'm the exception to the rule, as most can't self design, then build something like this, they have to purchase it. It you have to purchase it, then you need a considerable sum, if for no other reason then this is what everyone wants, so it's a seller's market, even in tough times.

    If I was attempting to burst into the boat building industry, I wouldn't even consider a "niche" market like runabouts. I would attempt to build the most desirable, covers as many markets as physically possible boat. This is precisely what the manufactures do and why they can sell hundreds, even in tough times. A broad, very broad base for clientele is the wise move, not a microscopic niche of the powerboat industry. Once successful, then a small market entry is logical.

    An easy to understand example is the automotive world. You could attempt to break into the industry with a Corvette type of product. Very few people can afford a Corvette, let alone an untested, Corvette killer like yours. Chevy sells very few Corvettes and would starve if this was their only offering. Without the cash flow, generated by a Taurus or Impala like model, you'll never be able to push the limited production run of your Corvette killer, no matter how good it is.

    Business models are fairly simple with a start up. Complicating it with a very narrow market appeal, is like opening a bar with great beer prices, but no men allowed and only women over 6' with red hair. It would be a great place to meet a green eyed beauty, but you'd have to wait for them to come outside, just to say hello.
  8. Kazulin
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: British Colombia Canada

    Kazulin Junior Member

    We have been designing, building and exporting our
    "retro" boats in Canada for 30 years. Niche market definitely!
    Even the big names are bringing back their past models (Riva).
    You should be prepared to have a lot of backing ($$$) and original ideas.
    Tough market but very rewarding when you get it right.

    Kazulin Boats
  9. CaptBill
    Joined: Jan 2010
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    Location: Savannah,Ga

    CaptBill CaptBill

    My first sail boat was nothing but a pure styrofoam daysailor about maybe 12'. And it was a very rigid little boat. It is the 2" wall thickness that made it so strong. When you have thickness like that you are building not just an outer hull but also an inner liner, except as one piece.The thing probably took all of 10 minutes to make yet produced a strong light weight hull (not to mention unsinkable). Imagine if you could extend the concept a bit. Use the cheap packing material foam as merely the sacrificial form. Divide it into workable sizes, Glass it leaving the back exposed. Then you can glass 'internal ribs' by cutting out the foam in strips and glass. This is where you can either get fancy OR choose a simpler approach. Now we have structure to attach the top coat of glass. Either way you have an all one piece ,hand laid, composite with thick wall/thin laminate. In fact, you have a 'parametric wall' construction. Then you are more like 'growing' a hull more so than 'building' one.

  10. CaptBill
    Joined: Jan 2010
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    Location: Savannah,Ga

    CaptBill CaptBill

    Yeah Baby!

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