Wilson Wright, Executive Director of the CCABC, had this boat at the last two Mt. Dora shows, and it always gets a lot of looks. Few people have seen this model, and many don't even know the model exists. When they look it over closely they see lots of features that speak of value, speed, and style, and very few know it was almost sold as a Commander model along side the 19' Commander SS and the 23' Commander.
PHOTO OF THE DAY AWARD
(Photo above, December 15, 2006)
Edit Comment: We're always on the hunt for information about the Commander family tree, and this model could have been called a Commander with the stroke of a pen, just like the 19' Commander Super Sport and the 23' Commander were.
The following comments were noted on December 15, 2006:
The boat that was supposed to be a 1968 Commander. This is Wilson Wrights RED ROCKET, powered by an inboard 327Q. Wilson is the Executive Director of the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club and commented: As for Red Rocket...I think it was illegitimate child of C.C. marketing. According to Jerry Conrad it was designed as a Commander in 1968 but never built as such..In 1969 it was marketed as a Cavalier. Cavalier cancelled the adoption and in 1970 it was marketed as a Corsair. If you look at the pictures in the Essential Guide the one in the Cavalier section for 69 is identical to the one in the Corsair section for 1970 and the descriptions are identical. Illegitimate or not, she is a nice boat, except that the red hull is hard to polish out but with a 337 230hp she'll pull up her share of skiers which is what she was in part designed to do. This is just one more Commander Cousin weve been able to find on the Lancer/Corsair/Commander/Cavalier family tree. Although it doesnt bear the Commander name plate, the power, construction, and many design elements are either identical or very close to some of the boats that do bear the Commander name plate.
The image below is the 1968 20' Grand Prix, of which only 24 were built. This boat was powered by the 300-hp 427, and one of the features of this particular boat, and the era (Century was doing this too) was the single piece curved glass windshield. This feature also showed up on the RED ROCKET !!
The fiberglass Cavalier and the wood Grand Prix were overlapping models. It was the swan song for the wood Chris Craft speedboats, and the birth of the Chris Craft fiberglass revolution. Chris Craft was on the mark, having just begun production of the fiberglass 38 Commander in 1964, and having strategically purchased Thompson Boat Company of New York, to give them a boost into the fiberglass runabout marketplace.
This boat had many of the features of the best of the traditional wood speedboat line, inboard motor, straight shaft, direct drive, fast hull, but with the added features of shapes and forms conducive to the new construction medium, and some lifting strakes and on the hull bottom.
All said and done, a very functional and stylish ski boat. No wonder Wilson named it the ROCKET. With a 230-hp Q motor, a 17'boat like this would get up and move fast. But for the stroke of a pen, we would be calling this one a Commander.