Dave Parker's 1947 Western Fairliner "Torpedo"
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In 1947, the Western Boat Building Company of Tacoma, Washington commissioned noted designer Dair N. Long to design what would become the yacht builder’s sole foray into the small runabout market, the Fairliner "Torpedo". The radically styled boat was patterned after the Hacker and Dee Wite torpedoes of the same period, and was eligible for Class "D" inboard racing under the American Power Boat Association rules.

According to noted historian Bob Speltz, only 35 Fairliner Torpedoes were built over a nine-year production run that ended in 1956, apparently since the labor costs involved in turning flat planks of wood into a vessel having no flat surfaces made the boat fairly expensive by standards of the day. The boat you’re looking at is #11 of 35. Less than 10 of the original 35 hulls are presently accounted for.

According to Speltz, of the 35 boats produced, almost all were 17’ in length, with a few of 18’ and one custom boat that featured a single forward cockpit only. Specifications of the standard Torpedo runabout were:

  • Type: Deluxe Sport Runabout

  • Length: 17’, 0"

  • Beam: 6’, 0"

  • Hull: Rigid framing of mahogany & spruce; double planked bottom; high gloss finish mahogany planking

  • Controls: Automotive-type steering, aircraft controls

  • Fittings: Heavy bronze, chrome finish

  • Price, FOB: Gray 104, (38 MPH): $3,150 - Gray 150 (42 MPH): $3,475

Although official sales literature mentioned Graymarine engines only, according to Dave Lobb of Northwest Classic Boats in Bellevue, Washington, the company also used six-cylinder engines from Chris-Craft and Chrysler. This boat’s Chris-Craft 95 HP engine is the factory original.

Hull #11 was essentially a "gray wreck" when Mr. John Walton of Bellingham Washington commissioned Dave Lobb to restore her back in 1996 – ‘97. According to Lobb, the boat was restored to "Lake Tahoe" standards, with all but a few deck frames replaced using the original pieces for patterns. With the emphasis on complete originality, the boat still features its original 6-volt electrical system.

I purchased the boat from Mr. Walton in December, 2003, with our transporter, W. Nixon ("Wayne") Myers, setting a course back to Houston from the seller’s agent’s home in Seattle with the boat in tow at 12:30 am on Christmas Day.