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1955 BARRACUDA SPORTSER
SUBMITTED BY THE EXHIBITORS
1955 Barracuda Sportster
Classic Non-Wood Boat
Dan & Casey Arena
This 1955 Dan Arena Barracuda Sportster is the only known survivor of the seven that were built to compete with the Chris-Craft Cobra in a proposed Gentleman’s Racing Sport Runabout Class.
The Barracuda Sportster was the first successful polyester fiberglass inboard runabout. It was designed and built by Dan Arena, one of America’s foremost race-boat drivers and builder of high-speed racing craft. It made its debut in February 1955, at the Chicago Boat Show along with the Chris-Craft Cobra.
This particular Sportster is hull #3, and was sold at the Chicago Boat Show on February 12, 1955, to Francis R. Schooner, then owner of Lagoon Marine. It was the second boat sold, and was delivered on June 14, 1955. The boat has all original equipment, including the Dearborn 292 C.I., 175 HP Interceptor engine, which was the first production run of the Marine Ford “Y” block with the Dearborn transmission.
Bryan Fenwick found this boat during the summer of 2004 in a barn in Chicago, Illinois, where it had been stored for approximately 18 years. We purchased it that November and began and completed the restoration for its debut in the 2005 Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance to celebrate its 50-year anniversary.
With the end of WWII came a concern about both the quantity and quality of premium woods for marine use. Dan had been working with fiberglass components, such as engine cowlings and cockpits on the hydroplanes, and possibly planned to incorporate some fiberglass parts into his new boat.
As the boat neared completion, concerns about the time and cost it would take to build each boat from wood were raised. Inquires from the advertising promotions swamped the office, and Dan decided to change from wood to fiberglass for ease of production. He made some minor modifications to the design, to allow for the deck and hull extraction from the molds.
- The 1955 Sportsman Club of America Award for Product Excellence in Design, Craftsmanship and Utility.
- “Boating World Magazine” ranked the Arena Craft Barracuda number three of the top ten 1950’s classic boats in its July 1999 edition.
- 2005, Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, First Place in Marque Class.
- 2005, Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, Most Unique Boat of the Show.
- 2006, ACBS International Boat Show, Classic Runabout <22’ Runner Up.
- 2008, ACBS International Boat Show, Restored Non-Wood First Place.
- 2009, Wood & Glory XI, People’s Choice.
- 2009, South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic, Best Owner Restored.
- 2010, Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, First Fiberglass Boat featured on the Show Poster.
- 2010, Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, Best of Show, Marque Class.
- 2011, Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, First Place in Class.
- 2012, South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic, Best of Show.
- 2013, 2014, South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic, First Place in Class.
- 2015, South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic, Best in Marque Class.
- 2016, International Boat Show, Boat of the Year – Non-Wood.