The name alone conjures up images of classic wooden boats, waving flags, and unforgettable C7 made on the waves. Chris-Craft has carved out an iconic place in history and made its way into the hearts of boat lovers worldwide. Today, we continue to nurture the love affair, driven by the same principles that defined us years ago. And, while we are committed to expanding our range of boats, we will always design and craft them with the same appreciation for quality, uncommon beauty, and standout style.
Our heritage of building beautiful boats started in a small town in Algonac, Michigan. It was here that 13 year-old Christopher Columbus Smith built his first boat in 1874. His boats – referred to as “punts” or “skiffs”– quickly earned him a reputation as a master boat builder, and the demand for them grew. To keep up with the demand, Chris joined forces with his brother, Hank, and began producing boats full-time. It laid the groundwork for their future as builders of “standardized” runabouts.
In 1910, the Smith Ryan Boat Company was formed. It focused on building fast, economically priced runabout boats for the masses.
In 1922, the Smith Ryan Boat Company changed its name, and the Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company was formed.
In 1927, Jay Smith, Chris’s son, was designated the President and General Manager of Chris-Craft – a position he would hold for the next 31 years. Under his leadership, Chris-Craft became known as the world’s largest builder of mahogany powerboats.
In the wake of the depression, Chris-Craft sales dipped, so the company went back to its roots and focused once again on building runabouts.
During the war, Chris-Craft turned its attention to helping the country. It began building patrol boats, utility launches, and rescue vessels for the United States Navy and Army. And by 1945, had built 12,000 military vessels.
In the early ‘50s, Chris-Craft expanded its lineup to include 139 powerboat models, and by 1955, they had manufactured their first fiberglass boat.
1971 marked the end of an era, as Chris-Craft built their last mahogany boat – a 57-foot ConstellationTM.
Throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Chris-Craft got back to what they loved prior to wartime: sport boats. They continued to build high-performance racing catamarans, and began designing performance boats for their traditional customers, too.
In 2001, Chris-Craft was purchased by an investment group, and headed into the new century with plans that included the introduction of three new Heritage models and a 43-foot Roamer Yacht.
Chris-Craft has been America’s Boatbuilder since 13-year-old Christopher Columbus Smith crafted his first skiff. For generations, Chris-Craft vessels have captivated boat lovers from around the world with their exceptional style and performance – and today, that is no different. Our entire company is dedicated to preserving the beauty and unparalleled craftsmanship that is worthy of the legendary Chris-Craft brand. That’s why we continue to invest in new technologies and designs to expand our range and enhance the current lineup. Our mission is a form of nautical art delivering an exceptional boating experience that simply cannot be rivaled.
Since the beginning, Christopher Smith crafted the boats that dreams are made of. Chris-Craft boats became the cultural icons that gave people a new freedom to explore the clear waters of local lakes and distant shores. And they were built with the values and benefits that defined our country and our way of life. More than any other brand, they were responsible for America’s romance with boats – and ultimately, for redefining boating pleasure for generations of people everywhere.
Crafted with the same passion and dedication as they were 148 years ago, Chris-Craft boats continue to speak to boat enthusiasts everywhere. Whether it’s an open bow ideal for socializing, or a larger cruiser with a cabin for extended excursions, every inch of every boat we build is carefully considered.