Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Considered by many to be among the most important and ahead-of-its-time speedboats ever produced, this 1924 Hacker speedboat was custom built for Henry Ford, it was billed as “the prettiest boat ever turned out” by famed designer and builder John L. Hacker, a lifelong friend of Ford.

For some unknown reason Mecum thought it would sell for about 1.5 million, but bidding stopped at 700k

Henry and Edsel Ford had several amazing boats over their lifetimes. During the period of 1920-24 the Ford’s had commissioned Hacker’s Hacker Boat Co. in Detroit to build eight racing hulls, each of which were unique. The rigging and mechanical was generally done in-house at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn by a special team. These boats were named Comanche, Goldfish, Woodfish, Greyhound Jr. and the Nine-Ninety-Nine. Evangeline was the last of these, the only one known to be ordered by Henry himself and the only one still in existence today.

Evangeline was named for Evangeline Coté Dahlinger, wife of Raymond Dahlinger, the Ford’s No. 1 racing driver and manager at Ford Farms.

She was a very close employee to Henry Ford, and a dear friend. Lavish gifts to Evangeline over their 35-year relationship included a 150-acre Dearborn parcel with a 38-room mansion and boathouse on the Rouge River, a vacation home on Lake Huron and a Curtiss Seagull flying boat (Evangeline was the first female to carry a pilots license in the state of Michigan).

Ford hired Evangeline in 1910 as a stenographer when she was just 17 years old. She quickly rose to become Henry Ford’s personal secretary and handled personal correspondence for Clara Ford, Henry’s wife. Ford family historian David Lewis wrote that Evangeline Dahlinger was one of the ten most influential persons to the Fords.

In 1987, restoration started at a professional shop in Huntington Beach, California, but was halted in 1989. It was stored away for 25 years before the current partnership emerged when extraordinary documentation and photographs were discovered. Antique boat historians and restorers Brian and Tim Robinson at Robinson Restoration in Fallbrook, California, completed the restoration.

The Capitol-Liberty V-12 engine (the same as what originally powered Evangeline) is a marvel of World War I aircraft design by Jesse Vincent (Packard Motor Co.) and E.J. Hall (Hall-Scott Motor Co.) It displaces 1,650 CI, and pumps out 450 HP and 1,250 lb-ft of torque.

Since Ford was one of the largest producers of this engine under war contract, it was only natural that it was modified Liberty engines that powered most of the Ford racing fleet.

Following a complete overhaul by Liberty specialist Dominic Spediacci in 2016, it makes beautiful music and is something to behold with its dual ignition, dual distributors, overhead cams and exposed valve train. It was done to exacting authenticity, without overdetailing, down to the original early model-K transmission.

Evangeline debuted at the 2015 Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance (known as the Pebble Beach of boat shows) where it took top honors: First Place in Class, Marque Class Best of Show and Overall Best of Show.


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