1961 Corl Bonanza before restoration. Spring 1998
The story of our fiberglass classic begins sometime in 1961 at the Corl Boat Company of Napannee, Indiana (half way between Fort Wayne and South Bend). The construction methods and all other information about the origin of this boat and the company that built her remain a mystery. All we do know is she was molded in two pieces of fiberglass and has plywood decking. The model name Bonanza is emblazoned on the dashboard in chrome foil. The capacity plate has been obliterated where the serial number and motor rating are listed.
Who owned her first, or how many owners she had is also a mystery. We do know from a registration decal on the windshield that she spent some of her life in New Hampshire. I came to own her in May of 1998 when I answered an ad in the local paper for a “Boat and 40hp Motor, 14 ½ ft. $300 OBO”. The ad caught my attention because I was looking for a motor and trailer to complete a project boat I had been working on for the three previous years.
[ Check out Projet #1 - 1972 Caravelle Tarpon ]
When I visited the owner that weekend he told me the boat had been his grandfather’s who had meticulously maintained it. He said he had used it himself in our local lake the previous season. By the looks of things his grandfather hadn’t taught him much. The boat was stored in the woods and although covered there were wet leaves accumulated both inside and on top of the cover. Both the interior and the gelcoat were a mess.
Since I was looking for a motor and trailer I didn’t pay much attention to the hull. The trailer looked to be in reasonable shape and there was a good-looking Evinrude 40 on the back. I offered to pay his asking price if we could get the motor running. The owner insisted on changing the spark plugs before attempting to fire it up. Unfortunately neither selection nor command of tools was one of the owner’s strong points. Using an emergency plug wrench he proceeded to cross thread a plug in the aluminum cylinder head. Needless to say, once the plug hole was stripped the engine had no compression and wouldn’t fire. I regrouped and offered the owner $150 “as-is” figuring the trailer was worth that if I ended up scraping both the hull and the motor.
Narrative ] - OR -