9-10 October 2014

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Lot 264

1941 Chris-Craft 27' Model 115 Custom Runabout "Runaway Jane"

  • Hull no. 27061

Sold for $258,500

300 bhp, 502 cu. in. Mercury Mercruiser V-8 engine. Length: 27 ft.

  • One of only three examples built for 1941
  • Restored by noted antique boat experts
  • The ultimate in American pleasure craft

For the 1932 season, Chris-Craft introduced a totally new 27-foot custom runabout model to replace their outgoing 28-footer. The new runabout offered a stronger and heavier hull with a greater beam, and it could accommodate a wider range of engine options and offer even better performance. The new model was successful and remained in their lineup as the flagship of Chris-Craft’s outstanding runabout fleet until1941.

In 1940, when plans were being prepared for their 1941 models, Chris-Craft’s design team was confident that the time was right to add even more special streamlining to their three custom runabout models. The slowdown created by the Great Depression seemed to finally be over, and this was the perfect time to offer exciting design treatments to potential buyers. It was also a time when the lure of fast runabouts was capturing the imagination of sportsmen who enjoyed being on the cutting edge with the latest objects of modern design. Beautiful boats that provided exhilarating performance offered the water equivalent of the prestige and enthusiasm enjoyed by contemporary sports car owners. Fast, attractive runabouts offered enormous appeal, and Chris-Craft’s classic runabouts were the boats to been seen in.

In 1940 and 1941, Chris-Craft’s 19- and 23-foot custom runabouts captured a great deal of attention with their beautifully rounded transoms, which were commonly referred to as “barrel backs.” Chief Designer Bill MacKerrer expanded the barrel back concept by rounding the top of the stem and continuing this stunning treatment to the covering boards, which were over the full length of the boat. The construction required superb craftsmanship that was usually reserved for custom boat builders. The effect of the rounded covering boards provided Chris-Craft’s custom runabouts with a very tasteful, modern appearance that was absolutely unique.

Chris-Craft would offer nine runabout models in their 1941 production plan. However, just three of the runabouts, the 19-foot, 23-foot, and 27-foot models, were given the special designation of “custom” runabouts. The three custom runabouts would have all of the deluxe features, such as plush leather upholstery, six dashboard instruments, and deck-mounted trumpet horns. The designated flagship of Chris-Craft’s 1941 fleet of custom runabouts was the triple cockpit 27-foot model. It featured the newly designed folding vee-windshield with attractive side-wing deflectors. This marvelously designed windshield was very distinctive and could be folded to provide those in the front seat the pleasant option of air flow on hot days, if desired.

Recognizing the popular art deco trend that favored flowing curves, Chris-Craft’s stylists split the top portion of the cut water to flow into the stainless steel rub rails. This design feature emphasizes the roundness created at the top of the stem and continues over the full length of the boat to the transom. The rounded covering boards blend perfectly into the curvature of the barreled transom. The result forms a beautifully designed hull that is a triumph of craftsmanship and tasteful modern design.

Shortly after the 1941 pleasure boat production was underway, pressure to fulfill their military contracts ahead of schedule was being felt. As a result, only three 27-foot custom runabouts were built during their limited 1941 production. The three custom runabouts were hull numbers 27056, 27060, and this example, number 27061. They were shipped from the Chris-Craft factory to owners in three states, New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan. As a result, the 1941 27-foot Chris-Craft Custom Runabout has always been recognized as one of the extremely rare and most sought-after models in their custom runabout fleet. This example, which was originally delivered to Massachusetts, is believed to have only two owners since new and was recently restored by Doug Morin, a renowned restorer of antique boats, in Bay City, Michigan.

Runaway Jane has been re-powered with the 300-horsepower, 8.2-liter Mercruiser engine, which allows this well-designed hull to achieve even greater performance than with its original A-120 Chris-Craft powerplant. The original 27-foot custom runabout hull was improved on during its 10 years of production. Chris-Craft factory records indicate that, in total, sixty-two 27-foot runabout hulls were built over the 10-year production run. Ten of these hulls were specifically identified as “race boat” models. The production numbers indicate that during the 27-foot custom runabout’s 10-year production run, their average output was fewer than six boats per year.

The early 27-foot custom runabouts by Chris-Craft in this series received regular upgrades and refinements that lead to the advanced styling treatment that produced the elegant design features present in the 1941 model. Runaway Jane is a very rare model from the world’s largest builder of mahogany pleasure boats.

Alexander Weaver


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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more