Motorboat Monday: Class A/B Sport Utility boat mixes fun, terror and awesomeness.

We quite often start an article with a pre-ramble about what makes for a Hooniverse kind of vehicle and it’s generally accepted that anything goes, assuming it’s either exciting, beautiful, technically bewildering or soulful, or a mixture of all of the above.
There’s also, though, a special place set aside for the gloriously insane or the borderline lethal. That kind of machine you really ought to steer well clear of, yet every fibre of your being is thinking “I want me some of that”.
And so to this weeks Monday Motorboat. This is what the brave and the barmy were racing fifty-plus years ago.

Hal Kelly is not a name I’ve encountered before, bit it’s certainly one I’m going to gen up on pretty soon. It was he who designed this fabulous piece of kit which became very popular, particularly in the USA, from the  1940’s onward. He was also keen to put his money where his mouth is, actively racing boats of his own design. That was pretty cool when you look at how uncompromising these things were.
What we’re looking at here is pretty close to being a hydroplane, and most of Kelly’s designs were just that. It’s designed to spend the vast majority of its time skimming merrily across the lake surface, leaping onto the plane almost immediately. For some fantastic period images of these things in action, together with links to plans should you wish to build one yourself (and frankly, why wouldn’t you?) head to this wonderfully web 1.0 website about the work  of the man himself.
This version is 10’10” overall and weighs just 55kg as a bare hull. Named Colliwobble and beginning its racing career in 1961, the history of this boat has been somewhat chequered with an enormous amount of restoration work required in the recent past. Now, however, Colliwobble is a regular sight at Classic Motor Boat Association club outings throughout the UK.
The bananas-looking engine pictured is a modified 1953 Mercury which, if you took the power rating and squared it would probably give you a conservative decibel-level reading. With this motor hooked up Colliwobble will hurtle along at 50+ mph, with speed very much depending on the trim of the boat. This is adjusted and optimised by the driver shifting his weight, which incidentally helps in tight turns, too.
I can’t even begin to imagine just how much fun this thing is, and how extraordinary the feeling of speed must be, especially when you drive it standing up as if you were punting on the Thames. Particularly when you factor in the spray in your face, the hard ride and that screaming Mercury behind you.
This is one of those boats which just screams tactility and exhilaration, even through still photos. Hoonworthy? You betcha.
(All photos copyright Chris Haining 2015. Thanks once again to the stout fellows of the CMBA)

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  1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    I'm not familiar with trends in aquatic recreation, but this looks like it's the predecessor to the '70s(?) mini-boat, which was in turn replaced by PWC/jetskis.
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    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      With ATV sales increasingly being usurped by UTVs, or side-by-sides, will we see a rebirth of the Mini-boat? Probably not, but I want one.

  2. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    That exhaust header is full of win!

  3. r_toaster Avatar

    Now I know what modern cars are missing, a premonition of imminent death brought on by the mere twist of a key push of a button.

  4. Slow_Joe_Crow Avatar

    I wonder how much more power you could get by swapping the megaphones for expansion chambers?