Motor City

25 July 2015

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Lot 151

1914 Fay & Bowen 26' Special Launch "May LaFever"

  • Hull no. 462

$160,000 - $200,000


16 hp, four-cylinder engine. Length: 26 ft.

  • Rare and beautifully restored
  • Multiple award winner; numerous Best of Show prizes
  • Historic boating at its finest


The Fay & Bowen Company was founded in 1895 in Auburn, New York, by Walter Fay and Ernest Bowen, as a manufacturer of bicycle parts. In 1904, they moved their operation to Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York, where they started producing marine engines and motorboats.

This 26-foot Special Launch, hull number 462, was originally built in 1914 and spent most of her early years in the Adirondacks, cruising around the mountain lakes. In the early 1920s, it is believed that the owners of May LaFever returned the boat to the Geneva plant, where the current 16-horsepower four-cylinder engine was installed, the steering and bulkhead was moved rear of the engine, and the engine was covered by the existing deck and hatches. Subsequently, the boat was taken out of service in the late 1930s and stored in Minnesota, where it remained hidden away in storage for many years. It wasn’t until 1996 when this Fay & Bowen was acquired by the current owner that restoration would commence to return May LaFever to her former beauty.

In the early 2000s, the stunning 26-foot Launch underwent a thorough two-year restoration by Danenberg Boatworks, of Manistee, Michigan, that left no plank unturned. Fully completed in May 2004, the work included construction and varnishing of all of the interior furniture, as well as fabricating the upholstery. The entire exterior, including the original topsides and deck planks, was properly varnished and painted. She also received all-new white oak framework. Mechanically, many of the running-gear parts and hardware were cast, fabricated, plated, and installed. The engine was also totally rebuilt, and custom linkages and plumbing were fabricated as needed. As few replacement parts were available, and as it is believed that only two other similar models remain in existence, any missing components required custom fabrication and machining. Most recently, in 2013, she was cosmetically treated to a fresh coat of varnish, paint, clear coat, and brass polish.

The owner of May LaFever, having long been involved in the historic boating hobby, was adamant that the restoration be done correctly and as accurately as possible, regardless of cost. As such, the results and accolades that this boat has earned certainly speak for themselves. Having been shown over a dozen times in two seasons, May LaFever has routinely received 1st place, as well as Best of Shows awards, wherever she was presented. A complete list of shows and awards is available on file.

Having resided in Michigan for a number of years, May LaFever would be a crowning addition to any fine collection of motorboats. Additionally, she includes a custom tri-axle trailer, as well as custom towing, mooring, and storage covers.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

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

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

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

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

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

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

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

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

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

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

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

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

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

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

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

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

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

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

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

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

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

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

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

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

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

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
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

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

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