Wave Cutter: 1960s Cutter Jet de Ville Speedboat

051916 Barn Finds - 1964 Cutter Boat - 1

This is what summer is all aboat, I mean, about.. (I’ve sunk to a new low) The 1960s Cutter Jet de Ville shown here is in Hartford Michigan on the shores of beautiful Van Auken Lake, fifteen minutes east of even more beautiful Lake Michigan. The owner has it listed on eBay with a current bid price of $500 and no reserve! I have it listed as a “1960s” boat because from my research, Cutter Boats ceased to exist in 1962, so this couldn’t be a 1964 model. Hopefully one of the Barn Finds readers will know more about the history of these great boats. Thanks to Jim S. for sending in this find!

051916 Barn Finds - 1964 Cutter Boat - 2

Cutter Boats, Inc. was based just north of Tell City, Indiana, adjacent to the Ohio River, which is the border between Indiana and Kentucky. They made boats from 1957 to 1962 as the fiberglass boat division of Owens Yacht Company, Inc. out of Baltimore, Maryland. Styled fiberglass boats were all the rage in the 1950s, especially when tailfins on cars were at their highest point. Coincidentally, when tailfins on cars went away, so did a lot of these fiberglass boat companies that relied on those design influences, including Cutter Boats, Inc.

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The Cutter Boat company was short-lived, sort of like a bottle rocket that flashes brightly and then fizzles out. In 1958 business was booming and they added another 14,000 sf to the manufacturing plant. In 1959, 15-20 boats a day were being produced by 176 employees. But, the end was near. In 1960, the Owens brothers retired and sold their companies to Brunswick Corporation; yes, that Brunswick Corporation. Brunswick was a buying spree and they also bought out Larson Boats and in 1960 they closed the Tell City plant and moved everything to Ohio, but only a year later they shut down the Cutter Boat division.

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The seller says that this Cutter boat is in great shape and it sure looks like it from the photos on the auction. It sounds like one of the only things that needs some help is the reverse doesn’t function because of something in the controller, not the motor. The 40 hp Evinrude Lark outboard runs great. The back of the front seat is broken; I’m not quite sure what that means, but it can’t be a huge issue to sort that out. There should be a fitted, hard cover in the back, not the fabric one that’s in place now. This is a great looking boat and with a little work it’ll be a showpiece, there’s no question about it. The trailer is in fantastic condition, too: “the wheel bearings and races have been replaced 3 years ago, (and/or about 3 miles ago).” Are there any fans of these fabulous-’50s (and, ’60s) fiberglass boats out there?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. hhaleblian

    This boat is a great find. Attached is my 57 Switzercraft Shooting Star. Love fins.

    • Scotty G Staff

      Good grief, that is one gorgeous boat, hhaleblian, wow! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Wow, what a beauty!!!!!

    • Howard A Member

      Cool boat. Is that a Mark 58A motor? My old man had a motor like that on our ’60’s 14 ft. Silverline.

    • Bob

      Curious if you know where these boats were made, how many, for how many years, etc.
      Thanks,
      Bob

      • Bob

        (Referring in my comment aboveto the black and white boat with cowlings and fins)

  2. RBatsch

    I used to own a cool ‘Bat Boat’ but sold it a few years ago. I also love fins!!!

  3. Glen

    There was a Canadian boat company named Grew, that had a line of boats named Cutter. Unfortunately, the owner of Grew shot and wounded an employee, then killed himself when confronted by police. Grew was put into receivership. I think the company is gone now. I think the saying; “truth is stranger than fiction” applies here.

  4. Keith

    That Evenrude is a late sixties model. The Selectric shift is controlled by a solenoid in the lower unit. First order of business: change the lower unit gear oil and the water pump, which is a rubber impeller that is no doubt dried out.

  5. John B

    I wonder if this cool old boat once had a windshield…there seems to be an outline on the foredeck where one existed. Somehow, old ones with steering wheels look odd without the Plexiglas unit in place. Anything needed for the motor is available on eBay.

  6. Howard A Member

    This is a cool boat. It reminds me of the boat my old man had when I was a kid in the 60’s. It was a 14 ft. Silverline. Nothing fancy, like the Switzercraft, like above, wow, but just a basic boat, like this. He had several different motors on it throughout the years, and at our lake cottage EVERYBODY had a boat, of all shapes and kinds. ( neighbor had a Shell Lake that was pretty nice) Boating was huge back then, and there were so many boats on the lake, you had to really be careful. ( no lanes to follow, people just went where they wanted) Truth be known, these weren’t the nicest riding boats ( unless calm water) and this motor is ridiculously out of date. They vibrate, belch fumes, pretty gutless with 4 hefty people and I just remember these motors always leaking gas. Who knows how much damage we did to our lakes with these types of motors. They make nice mailboxes now. Sure had cool styling, though. Thx Scotty. ( oh, btw, on “images” these are supposed to have a windshield. Apparently, this owner liked the wind and bugs in their face)

  7. hhaleblian

    It’s a Merc 55E. Switzercrafts were built in my home town of Crystal Lake Il. In fact across the street from my retail floor covering operation. Bob Switzer is a client of mine. When I found this boat in a barn in Muncie Indiana, I called him. He went nuts. Bob put me in touch with the gent who built the boat in 1957. Said gent did the restoration.

    • Bob

      hhaleblian — My family had one of these Switzercrafts just like the black and white boat you posted. We had it in the mid-1960s in Seattle. I always loved the bat-boat look of it. My folks sold ours in the late ’60s and, until you posted the pics, I hadn’t seen one since. Would love to find one to park in my garage again!

  8. Bill Parmenter

    The ’59 Wizard Wasp had kool fins too …
    A real chick magnet at Balboa Newport in the 50’s

  9. Chris

    Hello everyone…. I just found, and bought a 1960 Cutter totally redone trailer as well from a very talented boat builder. I live in Maine, and cant wait to get her on the lake! she has a 40 redone evenrude motor light blue should go good with my 1961 Buick special almost same color. I collect 50’s-60’s runabout’s and this was a find!!!

  10. Chris

    ooooo here’s the boat lol….. my 1960 cutter in Maine 8)

  11. Chris

    8)

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