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Build Your Dream Boat #19

On August 2, 2010, in Build Your Dream Boat Series, News From Gayle, by Gayle Brantuk
I have a bit of nostalgia for you today… a while back my husband John and I went to the Annual Antique and Wooden Boat Show at Lake Arrowhead, California. The event is sponsored by the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS). We enjoy seeing all of the old Chris-Craft, Century, Thompson, Garwood and other classic boats, but best of all, Glen-L boats too! This year there was a Tahoe 23 and a Monaco and both fit in perfectly among all of those classics.
Monaco Mahogany Runabout

Elsey Cowman’s Monaco

While there, I spoke to a man who said he had a Glen-L “Swish” in his garage that needed to be restored and it got me thinking about this great classic boat with “tail fins” that were so popular in the 1950′s. The Swish, L Dorado and L. Capitan are classic Glen-L designs with these fins. Chris-Craft made a 21′ Continental Landau in 1958 and we saw one at the boat show that was one of my favorites.

Tahoe Mahogany Runabout

Jim Kirkpatrick’s (Capt. Kirk) Tahoe 23

Come to find out, Harley Earl was the man responsible for the fin design on cars which he began putting on movie stars cars back in the 1930′s, even though legend has it that his designs were inspired in 1948 by the P-38 war birds of World War II. Regardless, he was quite an innovative designer of the time. Glen-L’s finned boats were designed in 1957.

Continental Landau

Continental Landau at Arrowhead Boat Show

A while back we received an awesome photo of a Swish that our client Fred Jones built back in the late 50′s and which is still in use today at the family cottage in Ontario, Canada. Fred’s son Brad sent the photos to us and as you can see, it ‘s gorgeous!

L Dorado

L Dorado towed by Glen’s T-Bird

One of my favorite photos is from our 1957 catalog cover of an L Dorado being pulled by my father’s Thunderbird from the same era–I still can’t believe MY dad had a T-Bird!

Glen-L L Dorado

Glen & Vera in the L Dorado

But, my very favorite is this picture of my mom and dad in the L Dorado. This one ran in articles in many of the boating magazines of the day that featured this design.

Talk about a classic boat–these “fin boats” are truly classics along the lines of a Cadillac Eldorado (hmmm, sound familiar?).

In fact, I found a really interesting website about tail fin cars in which they state:

“Fins were an ebullient expression of devil may careness, the hoisting of a flag to honor America and a hope of better days ahead. They were splendidly outrageous, impractical and most people loved having them rest on the back ends of their cars. It’s likely if you did a national poll today you’d probably find out that many Americans still feel this way!”

Cadillac L Dorado

Cadillac “El Dorado

So, do you like the tail fin enough to actually build your own boat with them? I don’t know, but wouldn’t it be cool? Your fin boat would definitely stand out among all the others on the water…

Glen-L Word of the Week:

The process of beveling the stem, chine, sheers, keel, and frames so that the planking will have flat surfaces to glue and fasten to. A “fair” hull is one with no dips or bumps in the longitudinal lines of the hull. Fairness is checked by sighting down the longitudinal lines.



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