You see a fiberglass inboard from the 1960s that’s showing its years. Who knows how many hours of enjoyment it provided its previous owner? But its best days over. A lot of boats in this tired state face a slow or sudden decline and end up in a salvage yard. But it didn’t happen this time.
About three years ago, B.J. Lyons, and his father, Roger, purchased a 1968 Correct Craft Mustang, and two years ago began an extensive restoration project. The Mustang has become a classic in some circles, and this boat had a well-documented history. It was first used on Whitmore Lake. Then it was sold to someone who used it on Portage Lake near Pinckney; then it moved to its third owner on nearby Ackerson Lake. B. J. said “I’m the fourth owner, and with a classic boat you don’t always get to know its history. In this case, I do!”
Finding just the right boat took some time. B.J. commented, “Many of the Mustangs that are still around have been retrofitted in a way that detracts from their classic heritage.” For example, owners often replace the throttle on the floor and gearshift on the dashboard with a simple Morse control for throttle and shifting, as found on most boats today. “My dad and I wanted to preserve the original feel.”
If you think a project like this goes fast and easy, you’ve never owned a boat. A much used definition of boat goes something like this: B O A T = break out another thousand!
For B.J. and Roger, the process began by stripping the Mustang down to the bare bones. In some cases, this meant replacing so much of what was there, it was truly starting over. When the floor was removed, the foam was found to be waterlogged and had the consistency of watermelon. It was cut out.
The wooden stringers, the backbone of the boat that ran its length, had rotted. New ones were installed and fiberglass applied over them. When Indy Body and Marine in Indianapolis prepared to re-gel the hull, they found upwards of 200 cracks. Their resident expert recommended replacing the whole hull. But a donor boat was unavailable, so B.J., his father, and the expert decided the solution was to fix the existing hull. Cracks were meticulously ground out and sanded, filled with epoxy, and re-gelled. The engine had many hours on it and needed work, too. It was lifted out and thoroughly revamped. The seating was reupholstered by someone known for his artistry–Chris Pate of Devils Lake.
According to B.J., “getting the boat to look like a winner was top of mind.” The fittings were pulled off and re-chromed. The old gauges couldn’t be saved and new ones were acquired. When it came to colors, “we wanted something that was in keeping with the classic image but would ‘pop’ when viewed around the boats of today.” The faded red hull and white deck became shiny orange and white.
The end of this summer marked the conclusion of the project and the boat’s rebirth. The 16-foot inboard, fitted with a powerful 289 v-8, is now seen cruising Clark Lake as we hold onto the last glimmer of the season. With the project complete, B.J. reflected “The most important thing to me was working together with my dad. Our relationship has always revolved around boats. And this experience is something I’ll always remember.”
B.J. and Roger plan to take the boat on tour next summer at shows where classic Correct Crafts are featured. Their goal? “We hope to win ‘best of show’ wherever we take it,” says B.J.
And when you see the boat on the lake, who’s the proud guy driving it with the smile on his face? Is that B.J.; or is that his father, Roger?