Motorboat Monday: Inspired By Cars- The Moonfleet Aquilla

Motorboat Monday is still a thing here in the Hooniverse. Always has been, always will. It seems to me fair to put it out there, though, that car people and boat people seem to be drifting farther and farther apart. Certainly, in Britain in the ’60s boating was far more the “everyman” activity than it is today. In garages and backyards across the country, men would toil with woodworking tools, glue and ambition, following plans sent off for by mail order, and if all went to plan would end up with something resembling a motor boat.
It wasn’t just that people were interested in cars and boats, there was often considerable crossover in the products themselves. There were car companies who also had interests in boat-building, Healey, for example; and Colin Chapman certainly had his waterwings. And sometimes boats even followed car styling cues. Here’s an example I found at the 2015 London Boat Show.

Moonfleet were a company based in Penarth, Wales, for a spell at the end of the ’50s and into the ’60s. They were based in Penarth docks, near Cardiff, although later moved 7 miles SW to Barry. And then the factory burned down. This is pretty much the sum total of history I have managed to glean about the company, many minutes have been spent scouring the internet, even the forum of the Classic Motor Boat Association don’t seem to have much more insight.
I do know that there were various models produced, many with wild and wonderful names. There was the the Conquest, the Silver Shadow (no relation) and the White Satan. The one we’re talking about here. though, is the Aquila.
It was built in 1964 and measures 15’6″. Power was provided by a marinised Ford Zephyr six-cylinder car engine, with power quoted as between 68 and 71 hp. Not very many, but this really wasn’t a very heavy boat at all, and so would still be quite comfortably capable of proper runabout performance.
The internet tells us that this particular boat spent 30 years of its life (or its death) lurking in a scrapyard in Poole on the south coast, until rescued and lovingly restored. This can’t have been an easy undertaking as all the factory records, the tooling and the moulds were destroyed in that factory fire in the ’60s. This is a handsome restoration indeed; and the uninitiated need never know that there’s anything present that wasn’t factory issue. To be honest it’s pretty rare for any boat to remain completely as built over fifty years.
You can see the automotive influences extremely clearly. The stylistic roots were very firmly in the ‘5os, with the two-tone paintwork and moulded coachlines strongly suggesting Americana, and even a diminutive pair of fins astern. These jet-age styling reference points were, by 1964, pretty passée in America, but there were still a good few British cars still being made at that point which still thought fins were the thing. There’s even a little chrome “Moonfleet” branded trim just above where the license plate would go, if only a boat needed such a thing. Good name, too.
Of course, I’ll go as far to say that styling a boat after a car was a far less ludicrous thing to do in the ’60s than it would be today. I’m all for cars inspired by the elegance of  a Riva Aquarama, but I really do think that today’s boatbuilders should avoid the majority of automotive influences as best as possible. Cuddy cabin with a Lexus grille? No thanks.
(All images copyright 2015 Chris Haining / Hooniverse. Thanks to the hospitality of the guys on the Classic Motor Boat Association stand. Nice show, guys)

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  1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    That's just…wow.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Gorgeous, isn't it?

      1. Rover_1 Avatar

        And named after you! Yay!!!
        How did they do that so early?

  2. SawdustTX Avatar

    Caught this at my local Pearland cruise night. Seriously inspired by cars! Check out that automotive style roofline and the fins with "taillight shades". Wouldn't this be perfect towed behind a Tropical Turquoise '56 Bel Air?
    <img src="; width="600">

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I think a Mercury with the breezeway option would look great in front of it.

  3. marmer01 Avatar

    Pearland? Cool. I live there too. I need to get out to that Lowes some Friday.

  4. Dr. D Avatar
    Dr. D

    Boats inspired by cars?
    <img src="; width="600">
    <img src="; width="600">
    Lots more fun stuff from the heyday of fiberglass boats to be found at <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  5. WelshMusicman Avatar

    Hey guys nice comments, I’m proud to say I’m the owner of this boat .

  6. Giacomo Avatar

    Un ami possède 1 bateaux du même type de celui que vous avez vendu sur votre site web
    Un MOONFLEET AQUILA avec moteur Ford Zephyr 6 Cylindres.
    Pouvez vous de dire où se trouvent les plaques des numéros de coque et du moteur Ford Zephyr 6 Cylinders.
    Merci de votre réponse
    A friend owns 1 boats of the same type as the one you sold on your website
    A MOONFLEET AQUILA with engine Ford Zephyr 6 Cylinders.
    Can you tell where the hull number plates and the Ford Zephyr engine are?
    Thank you for your reply

    1. Giacomo Avatar

      J’ai oublié d’indiquer la date de ma demande 14 Novembre 2017