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Chris Craft Commander (fiberglass series beginning in 1964)

Discussion in 'Chris Craft Constellations & Catalinas' started by dogsharks, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    I own a 38-foot 1966 Chris Craft Commander which is "the first" fiberglass cruiser built by CC Corporation, and I'd like to start a thread here on the fiberglass Commander series. I continue to believe this particular model represents a terrific value for anyone wanting to buy, own, and operate a cruiser without paying way into "six figures" for a comparable new boat.

    These boats were substantially "over-engineered" by CC when they were first introduced in 1964 by CC, in order to assure their good name was protected. That good name was "earned" through many years of building spectacular cruisers, commuters, runabouts and skiffs of all sizes and shapes, and the fiberglass Commander series benefited from all of that experience, using a spectacular hull flair and style that presents itself very well today.

    Many people have elected to buy these old boats with the "bullet-proof hulls" (designed to withstand three times the stress of running full speed in a six-foot sea) and refurbish them, and repower them. Some of these restorations have cost many tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps well into the hundred thousand dollar range and beyond.

    Here is one such example

    [​IMG]

    This 38' Commander is owned by a friend of mine, Warren Pateman, who runs it upside down in Australia. I'm not sure, but I think he has well over a hundred thousand dollars put into this boat for new engines, all new interior (fully stripped to the inside glass), and Imron paint, etc. Looks good, huh?

    You can see the value of the fiberglass hull remains as viable as any boat being produced today. The overall cost of this restoration provides a boat that is less cost than a new comparable model, but still has the strength of hollow transverse and longitudinal fiberglass box beams, and the thick high quality polyester and fiberglass composition CC used in the 1960s. It is a rare occasion when one of these Commanders has blisters, in an era where new boats experience blisters after just a few seasons.

    Original power for the very first of the 38' series was the big Lincoln 430 cubic inch V8, rated at 275 hp. In 1966 CC transitioned over to the Ford 427 cubic inch V8 rated at 300 hp. The 427, by the way, is the motor Ford developed with cross bolted main bearings and high quality iron metalurgy blocks, to run at wide open throttle for 500-miles and win races in NASCAR and the LeMans 24-hour endurance race. During the years between 1963 and 1965 inclusive, this motor won 101 NASCAR races to 9 being won by General Motors. That's not a missprint, it was (nine) races. Today many of these boats are still powered by the original 427 Ford motors like mine is. These solid lifter engines still have good oil pressure, still run up to 4000 rpm, and perform as well or better than modern equivalents.

    Naturally, the bigger boats were also powered by diesel, inline six, V-6, V8, turbo and normally aspirated.

    If you are a Chris Craft admirer, and want a great boat for your family to enjoy, you could do a lot worse than consider an older fiberglass Commander. If you happen to be a Ford 427 fan, which is my personal preference since my Grandfather had a Ford dealership when I was old enough to appreciate the cars of the 1950s and 60's, then there is an additional level of enjoyment there for you. Many boats have been repowered, and the hulls still perform "as new".

    They are very solid boats and they have a classic look that is hard to match these days.

    Regards, happy boating,
    Paul
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2006
  2. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    [​IMG]
    This happens to be the diesel power put into the boat on my initial post. As you can see, the 40-year old hull from this vintage was deemed strong and solid enough to put LOTS of time and money into, and the end result is a boat that is still many dollars less than the new equivalent. The IVECO had 370-hp, and a pair of these will push a 38' boat nicely.

    The photo below is a 35' model, photo was taken on Lake Michigan last August. These 35' boats were offered with small block Chevrolet power, and also the Ford 427. This one has the small motors.

    Regards, Paul

    Attached Files:

  3. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    January 29, 2006, it's winter time in Tennessee and I'm on the Cumberland. Not too much green out there this time of year, but it was a nice warm day and I let the big dogs run.

    The attached link has more photos and some videos I think everyone should enjoy!

    Regards, Paul


    [​IMG]
  4. WWW

    WWW New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    FL. USA
    "Original power for the very first of the 38' series was the big Lincoln 430 cubic inch V8, rated at 275 hp."

    Curt Radford, MD. wrote:
    "Engine op options in 1964 included twin Chris Craft 210hp V8 engines (under powered) or twin 275hp V8s."

    Are these the motors you speak of? ( the 275's) I never knew they had 210HP in them also.
  5. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest


    Curt Radford, by the way, is a very good friend of mine, and a prince of a man!

    The first big block was, indeed, the Lincoln 275-hp 431 "MEL" motor (Mercury, Edsel, Lincoln). However, they did, indeed, offer the small block motor in this boat too, as evidenced by the scan of original manufacurers sales literature here. This particular ad is quoting the 300-hp motors, because at this time CC had transitioned over from the big Lincolns to the 427 Ford cross-bolted NASCAR motor, which is one superb motor by any standard.
    [​IMG]

    Regards, Dogsharks
  6. alloyed2sea

    alloyed2sea Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Messages:
    797
    Location:
    Alex, VA
    CC Heros

    Always good to see "Bambi" appear on the internet - she's a true COMMANDER -- just like yours Paul, eh?
    Anyway, as you already know, Brian just started down the same road, -and bought a '65 CDR SF 38' for all of the very good (and true) reasons you made here.
    BTW,...,. this that means that the little, itty-bitty us army marina (oxymoronic, aint it?:p ) on the Potomack River will harbor not only the CC Roamer Club's Webmaster, but now also a REAL genuine member of the CC Commanderos/heros -- and thatz just the way it is.
    He got his hands full, to be sure, but it has a 2 inch thick hull - alwayz a good start for any boat restoration project. I'm sure he'll be keeping all of you guys posted - only I get to see it all first.;)
    In any case, here's a few more shots of "Bambi" - before, during and after -- she's now a fully-inducted member of the CC CDR pantheon of stars.:p

    Attached Files:

  7. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    Hey thanks for the note!

    I had seen two of the other photos of BAMBI but two of them were new to me, thanks for the post.

    Warren Pateman is an inspiration in more ways than one, and the BAMBI project is an example of one of those. Great shot of that port side, by the way, it really shows off how husky these hulls are, because normally they're only viewed from the waterline up. I love that photo with the arm sticking out, sheesh, talk about a "frame up restoration".

    Regards, all the best,

    Paul

    "Dogsharks"
  8. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    Hello Chris Craft fans!

    I want to draw attention to the recent article in Motor Boating Magazine, featuring yours truely (standing on a 427 motor, no less!) and our 38' Chris Craft Commander. It was a lot of fun doing this, John Clemans (Sr. Editor and photographer) is a class act.

    Regards, Dogsharks! (Paul)
  9. alloyed2sea

    alloyed2sea Moderator

    Joined:
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    797
    Location:
    Alex, VA
    Must run in the (CC) family.


    Wow!
    I thought you had good taste before, but,
    pardon my french, but thatz one mighty fine-looking first mate. :p
    Jeez Paul, are you going to take all the good stuff?
    Cheers!
    Eric
    "Tin Tonic"

    Attached Files:

  10. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    Thanks for the kind comments, Eric, Janet is the love of my life. We really enjoyed working with John Clemans, of MB Magazine, and you can see Janet was having fun!

    Regards, all the best,

    Paul

    1966 38 Commander Express FB
    FXA 38 3004 R
    (the "R" stands for "Roamer", by the way, built in the Roamer plant!)
  11. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    11-day marathon, new paint, props, shafts, bearings, and transducer!

    Hello Eric, Friends,

    Thought you would be interested in knowing our 38 Commander was out for 11 days and is now back in the water with new paint, props, shafts, strut bearings and transducer !

    Regards,
    Paul and Janet
    Nashville, TN

    Attached Files:

  12. mitchellcb

    mitchellcb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
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    1
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I love these yachts

    I live in Seattle and have been considering buying an older yacht to live on! There are a number of Chris Craft's available of varying models and sizes. Do any of you have any advice as far as what to look for, or what to stay away from? Please help!!!
  13. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    I would stay away from wood. I owned a wood cruiser in the past, as many have here on the forum, it was a great boat. The older models will be requiring serious maintenance work and if you buy wood you better put away a wad of cash for repairs and maintenance.

    Therefore, go glass or in the case of the Chris Craft Roamer, go steel or aluminum. Vintage Chris Crafts are generally very well built. Some of the newer models may not have the salty appearance that the older Commanders may have, but they're all good boats.

    If you're planning on living aboard, the bigger the better! I have a buddy in Portland who may be happy to help you look over a Commander if you find one there.

    regards, dogsharks
  14. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    Commanders come in many sizes

    Commanders come in many sizes, they actually built an open utility in a 23' length powered by the 300-hp 427. Those are great boats if you can find them, and one is presently sitting in a field in Montana. Had it been closer, it would be in my shop right now.

    This one is one of the prettiest smaller performance boats in the Commander line. It's the 31' Sport Fisherman, and this one is powered with twin 350s but also came with twin 427s.

    [​IMG]
  15. cricket88

    cricket88 New Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Lake Minnetonka, Mpls, Mn
    Commanders come in many sizes

    I currently have a 1968 Commander 23 for sale which is in very good condition. I've been told C.C. only built about 100 of this model during 1968 and 1969. It obviously is based on the Lancer 23 hull but has a 327 V-drive inboard and the 23 Commander Styled in Fiberglass badge. This one has about 500 hours on the meter. It can be viewed at www.tonkabaymarina.com and from what I can determine, it has spent most if not all of it's life here in Minnesota. The price is $7,500 including a trailer.
    Cricket :cool:
  16. cricket88

    cricket88 New Member

    Joined:
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    3
    Location:
    Lake Minnetonka, Mpls, Mn
    1968 Commander 23

    Unfortunately my webperson has not posted the pictures of the Commander 23 on the listed website yet. I have them in my computer if anyone would like them e-mailed, I will try to get them on here as well if I can figure out how to do it.:confused:

    Attached Files:

  17. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    23' Chris Craft Commander

    Those are GREAT BOATS ! The photo below is one very similar to yours, with 327 power, belonging to Mike Obrien. Good luck selling yours, I hope you are able to put this boat into the hands of an appreciative Chris Craft Commander collector where it belongs !

    Notice this is also a boat from MN !!??? Sheesh, you guys have all the fun?

    Here is a link with the history of the 23' Commander, and how it evolved into the 23' inboard Lancer, etc. Enjoy !

    http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/message/1160914941

    Regards, Paul

    aka "dogsharks" :)

    Attached Files:

  18. cricket88

    cricket88 New Member

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    Location:
    Lake Minnetonka, Mpls, Mn
    23 Commander Info

    Thanks for your response Dogsharks, that is great information and it is interesting how the Lancer evolved from the Commander. I didn't know that there was a Commander Super Sport 19, I have seen the XK-19 in both inboard and I/O though. Chris Craft always did interesting things with various models. I currently have a 1958 Roamer 35 (steel) and some day would like to downsize to a 31' Commander "Styled in Fiberglass" to get into a lighter boat for hauling out for winter storage so I am not dependent on having a semi truck to move it.

    Skipp
  19. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest

    31' Chris Craft Commander

    The 31' Commander is one of the smaller boats in the series, but the most popular if judged by sales. They sold 1110 hulls, in an Express, Sedan, and Sports Cruiser configuration.

    [​IMG]

    While many people may be familiar with the Express and Sedan, not as many people know about the Sports Express (as shown in the photo). This one belongs to Gary Otto, and it has a pair (yes, a pair) of Ford 427 motors, which makes it a 40-mph+ boat.

    This same hull was used for the Express and Sedan, both with different interior cabins and different appeal for varying lifestyles.

    Anyone wanting to learn more about the cool and fast 31' Commanders, here is a link to some of my personal scans posted for public personal use.
    http://www.network54.com/Forum/424840/message/1171645795


    Regards, Paul
  20. sankanother1

    sankanother1 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Dunnellon Florida
    Here is my 1970 Commander 27

    My first post here,I hope this is in the right place...
    I just acquired her.She is hull number 41 with twin 350's.Second in production only to the commander 31.

    Attached Files:

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