1956 14' Baraccuda Chris Craft Kit Boat
COMMENTS: This family built boat has some original pictures and documentation. In excellent condition with a great running fast outboard. Comes with a great period correct trailer.
The Story behind the 1956 14' Baraccuda Chris Craft Kit Boat:Every once in a while I get a call from someone who has and old boat in a garage or barn and they need information. I never know what I am going to hear from the person on the other end of the phone but it usually never turns out to be much. You want it to be the long lost Barrel Back or some large Hacker or Garwood but this time Jim Fenton said it was a Chris Craft Kit Boat. I can’t say I had much excitement when I heard what he had but decided to go out and take a look and I am glad I did. When I pulled up in the drive he had her pulled out from the barn and cleaned off. It was like stepping back in time and the little kit boat was amazing. This little thing had it all, a cool big outboard, a set of original wooden water skis and the original set of fuel tanks with cool graphics. This little has boat has a ton of character it sits on its original trailer ordered from Chris Craft and a great story of a family who enjoyed building it and using her the way it was meant to be. Jim will be showing this boat at Boats on the Boardwalk in Traverse City Michigan for the very first time on August 6, 2011 after that Jim will put it up for sale for some other family enjoy.
Story by owner Jim Fenton
I remember when I was twelve years old in 1956 my mom and dad (Charlie and Virginia Fenton) were trying to decide whether to build or buy a 21’ cabin cruiser or a 14’ runabout , well the decision was made to build a 14’ Chris Craft Barracuda kit boat. My dad spent nights and weekends of the summer of 1956 helping out at a local boat building shop learning how to build the boat he had chosen.
The big box came in the fall of 1956 and the build started in the family garage. The garage wasn’t real big a single car, well a single car and a boat if everyone got out of the car before it was pulled in. A coal burning warm morning stove was installed with the pipe going out a pane in the window. The build was on. I remember the ribs were assembled, the building platform was built and leveled, and I was relegated to babysitting my sister 8 and my brother 4 in the house, woe is me I am almost a teenager I should have been out in the garage helping build the boat. This in Indianapolis and mom would wear a path green walking through the snow checking on us kids, sometimes I would catch hell and sometimes they would catch hell. It always worked best if we were left with a big bowl of popcorn.
The boat was finally turned over and the mahogany deck was put on. The boat looked so good it was debated whether to put the monkey rails on, I’m glad they did it really made the boat look classy. Mom pretty much took over filling and sanding the screw holes. Just the other day I was talking to mom she is ninety now , she said “I would fill those holes and then I would sand them , then I would close my eyes and run my fingers over them and if I felt anything I would do it again until it was perfect”. The boat is coming right along, it is now 1957 and the poor teenager is still in the house babysitting his sister and brother, woe is me. The paint and the varnish are on and a Chris Craft Alloy trailer is ordered and a 1957 Evinrude 35hp outboard is purchased. Mom did the upholstery on the seatbacks and around the edges of the front and back cockpits, custom made life preserver seat cushions were ordered to fit the seats. Finally in the spring of 1957 the Barracuda was finished.
In 1959 we moved to Louisville Ky. and the weekends were spent on the Ohio River skiing, picnicking on the islands and enjoying the envious stares this beautiful boat attracted, even at 15 I soon realized that this boat was a chick magnet deluxe woo hoo.
Many of the long weekends we spent camping at Lake Cumberland. The car and the boat would be full right to the top, and when dad got off work we would be outta here in a flash, we would reach Conley bottom on Lake Cumberland after dark, launch the boats and travel 5 miles down the lake, sitting on top of the very full boat till we reached one of the few flat places along the shore to camp. Lanterns were lit the boats were unpacked, tents were erected, air mattresses were blown up, the latrine was dug depending on the urgency, that was the one luxury we always brought with us a toilet seat. My uncle Bob and Aunt Pecky had a twin to our Barracuda that he and my dad built so we always went to Cumberland Lake together, we were always trying to ski on anything we found along the shore, My dad and Uncle Bob found a wooden barrel head and in the water it went, dad made it up but the holes in the barrel head made it look like a geyser skiing down the lake. Not to be outdone by the pro skiers on TV my cousin and I were skiing together, he was on two skis and I was on one ski, I stepped over onto his knee kicked my ski off and climbed up on his shoulders, everything was great until I let go of my rope, wrong move I fell forward and went down right between his skis, missing them both, it was the closest I came to being injured skiing. It was always a great and exciting time at the lake.
When I was nineteen my parents allowed me to take the Chris Craft out by myself, a friend and I took our girlfriends out on the Ohio river for the afternoon, my girlfriend was named Phyllis and we had a great time just cruising up and down the river enjoying the boat, I was a nervous wreck worrying that something would happen to the boat, but I was lucky and careful and the boating gods smiled on me, but the girl still broke up with me a year later.
I went into the Air Force in 1964 and dad bought a 1964 50hp Mercury outboard an put it on the Barracuda , wow what a kick in the pants when the throttle was put to the stops, to bad I wasn’t around to enjoy it more. I got out of the service in 1968, married, and had my own kids to babysit. About 1980 dad bought an 18’ tri-hull I/O and gave the Chris Craft to me.
I skied the kids, the nieces and nephews all over Long Lake in northern Mi and had a great time. In 1988 I put a fresh coat of paint on the hull and stripped and varnished the mahogany deck, it wasn’t used much after that, and has sat in the corner of my barn for the last 23 years.
I talked to my mom and she wanted me to sell it to someone who would use it, cherish it and enjoy it as much as we did, I agreed with her because I didn’t need the boat to enjoy all of my good memories. So I cleared a path to the Chris Craft and crawled in and pumped up the tires on the alloy trailer, pulled it out, mounted the mercury put new gas in, hooked some water to it and it started. I took it to a nearby lake the next day, launched it and sure enough the boat still has it, here comes a pretty girl taking pictures and asking questions, I knew it couldn’t be me because I am old and bald with a belly. I wanted to ask her why she wasn’t here in 1967 but I knew she wasn’t even a gleam in her father’s eye then.