HomeThe MarketMecum floats Taggart boat collection at Kissimmee sale

Mecum floats Taggart boat collection at Kissimmee sale


An array of historic drag racing cars and a fleet of IROC Camaros aren’t the only vehicles with strong competitive histories that will cross the block during Mecum Auctions’ annual Kissimmee sale. On Thursday, the Michael Taggart Vintage Raceboat Collection goes up for bidding at the Osceola Heritage Park fairgrounds, located just a few miles down the road from Disney World.

The Taggart collection includes nearly two-dozen vessels, powered by everything from a four-cylinder Crosley engine to a Flathead Ford, a Chevrolet V8, and even a stunningly exotic red-and-white hydroplane with a methanol-burning engine based on Super Duty version of the Iron Duke used in the Pontiac Fiero.

Mecum, Mecum floats Taggart boat collection at Kissimmee sale, ClassicCars.com Journal
‘Lil Ship’ exhaust pipes

Although focused on the speed needed for racing, not all of the boats in the collection are race-based. There’s a 1946 Ventnor 18-foot wooden runabout, “Tiger II,” that has taken best in show honors, and a gorgeous, twin-cockpit 1953 14-foot Delta runabout, also made from wood, that rides on a custom-built trailer that features skirted fenders.

According to Mecum Auctions, Taggart spent 25 years building the collection, which includes boats dating to 1929. The collection was housed in a 120-foot facility on Higgins Lake in northern Michigan, where Eb Wickes was Taggart’s curator, boatwright and mechanic.

Wickes and his crew also handled the restoration of the “Rainbow,” a 26-foot, wooden boat commissioned by Taggart’s grandfather, son of one of the co-founders of Nabisco.

“Many of Taggart’s boats have been owned or raced by notable and respected boat racers, including Chris Hall, Tom D’Eath and Ann Fitzgerald,” Mecum’s catalog explains. “Others have set records or earned national or world championship titles. It is unlikely there are many other such collections of this breadth and depth in the country.”

Crossing the block from the collection are (with pre-auction estimated values):

Mecum, Mecum floats Taggart boat collection at Kissimmee sale, ClassicCars.com Journal
Collection signage

• 1929 Original 13 “Tiny Tin,” unrestored step-bottom outboard hydroplane raced on Lakes Champlain and George and still with original Johnson Sea Horse 32 engine ($15,000 to $25,000)
• 1937 Century 20 “Thunderbolt” ($10,000 to $15,000)
• 1937 Ventnor 18 racing runabout “Alfa,” Class E-Gentleman’s racer with original 250cid Lycoming Flathead 6-cylinder marine engine ($75,000 to $125,000)
• 1937 Ventnor 18 racing runabout “Jeez-O-Peets,” raced in the Mississippi Race Association in the 1930s, with Ford Flathead V8 marine engine ($50,000 to $75,000)
• 1946 Ventor 18 deluxe runabout “Tiger II,” antique boat-show champion with 226cid Ford engine ($25,000 to $35,000)
• 1949 Garwood 18 “Charade,” enclosed deck cruiser (with Chevrolet 283cid V8) but boat built by hydroplane specialist Don Morin of Bay City, Michigan ($25,000 to $35,000)
• 1952 Lauterbach 16 special custom ‘Shake Rattle ’N Roll’ replica, powered by Flathead Ford V8 ($40,000 to $60,000)
• 1953 Delta 14 deluxe runabout, twin-cockpit, dual windshield cruiser with Crosley-based Aerojet 4-cylinder inboard engine and custom trailer ($25,000 to $35,000)
• 1965 Colcock 17 hydroplane with 221cid Ford Flathead V8 ($25,000 to $35,000)
• 1969 Ron Jones 17 “Justa Pest II,” three-time 225 class national champion (1969-71) and in 1984 won again, Buick 215cid V8 engine, set straightaway mile speed record in 1976 ($25,000 to $40,000)
• 1970 Jersey Skiff 14 Speed Skiff “Egg Beater,” set flying mile record, raced by Connie Cottrell for Think Pink Racing, powered by 327cid Chevrolet V8 ($15,000 to $20,000)
• 1970 Jersey Skiff 16 “Yellow Skiff,” fiberglass hull, Chevrolet V8 race engine ($15,000 to $20,000)
• 1970 Lauterbach 14 “Lil Leprechaun,” championship winner raced by Ann Fitzgerald, one of the first women to race hydroplanes, powered by a Toyota engine ($15,000 to $25,000)
• 1975 Lauterbach 18 “Tiger,” former world champion and kilometer speed record-holder in APBA N Class, 215cid Buick V8 engine ($15,000 to $25,000)
• 1976 Jon Staudacher 16 “Bad Habit,” class speed recordholder with 2.0-liter Ford Pinto engine ($15,000 to $25,000)
• 1980 Lauterbach 14 “Lip Ship,” the last 850 built by Lauterbach, raced by Tom D’eath and Butch Kropfeld, 1981 Eastern Division champion, Honda 900cc engine ($20,000 to $30,000)
• 1982 Pontiac 18 Tom D’eath hydroplane, set two world records and won four APBA nationls, 151cid Iron Duke Pontiac Fiero-based engine runs on methanol ($30,000 to $50,000)
• 1985 Morin Hacker 16 “Play Dough,” replica built by Morin Hacker of 1934 original (company also built 1949 Gold Cup-winner and “Miss US,” 200-mph speed record holder, 165cid Crusader V6 engine ($30,000 to $50,000)
• 1990 Jersey Orange Skiff 17.6 “Toms Cat,” raced by Tom D’eath, 327cid Chevrolet V8 ($15,000 to $20,000)
• 1990 Jersey 16 “Yellow Skiff,” Chevrolet V8 race engine ($15,000 to $20,000)
• Chris-Craft 16 Bugsy replica, won best in show at Hessel show and Bayview Yacht Club, Chris-Craft marine engine ($30,000 to $50,000)
• 1980 Lauterbach 14 “Lip Ship,” raced by Tom D’eath and Butch Kropfeld, 1981 Eastern Division champion, Honda 900cc engine ($20,000 to $30,000)

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Although I’m a fan, I have found through the years that numerous times… a few years of boat ownership that I completely forgot because of "want">>>>>>that a boat – – any boat, any size, type, gas, diesel, steam, electric, row, paddle, sail, fresh water, salt water………………is a hole in the water that you throw large amounts of money into.

  2. I was the first one to restore Jeez O Peets. The boat originally had a Gray Marine Racing inline 6 cylinder. I did the original installation of a Ford Flathead V8. Lots of work on the boat since,of course. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with the boat,many hours of work done in my shop at Lake Okobiji,Iowa. Regards to All Robert Walters

  3. I sold “Jeez O Peets” to an owner in Michigan many years ago. Forgot the owners name,but do recall that I sold it for about $15,000. Far cry from today’s value. If I had only known-would a-should a a life’s lesson learned. Robert Walters


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