AristoCraft Boats 1946 - present
Atlanta Boat Works began manufacturing AristoCraft boats in 1946 following Claude Turner's return from service during World War II. Production began with five employees at a downtown Atlanta location. These early days saw the production of an open fishing-type boat which was replaced in 1947 with the models that AristoCraft is known for.
The Typhoon, a 12' 2-seater runabout, was introduced, followed by a 13' Torpedo that had a barrel stern. In the late 1940's, AristoCraft even produced racing boats that included a bullet-nosed boat called the racing smoo.
With the arrival of the 1950's, AristoCraft engineered numerous changes. A cabin cruiser was marketed for a short while, introducing to the market a transom-mounted outboard motor bracket. In 1953, AristoCraft was being marketed through Western Auto and Montgomery Ward as the Wizard and the Sea King. Although hundreds were sold, this was phased out by 1954 to be sold through dealers only.
During 1954, the Torpedo that was first seen in 1947 was stretched to a 14' length. In 1956, the 13' SeaFlash was introduced, featuring a flashy 2-seat design with a raised cowling and fins. In 1957, varnish was phased out and epoxy coatings were used. The 15' Avalon entered the scene in 1957 with a larger, 4-seater body with fins. The Avalon was capable of handling the larger motors of the day, most often the 70 hp motors. Also during this time, AristoCraft was on the cutting edge in using a customized fabricated gear-steer as opposed to the pulley and cable system most often seen.
Production during these years was at such a high, an innovative conveyor-belt assembly line was utilized. Pulled by a chain, this system enabled a boat to be produced every 15 minutes. Working around the clock, seven days per week, 20,000 outboard boats were produced.
The final wood model, the 15' Matador was added in late 1957. Quite unique in design, it had two round cockpits with a center driving pedestal in the rear of the boat. Fins that lay almost horizontally gave a unique flair to this vessel.
So popular were the AristoCraft boats, that toy manufacturers were using the designs on their products. The Aladdin Thermos Company produced a boating lunchbox series that featured the SeaFlash on its thermos. The Haji toy Company of Japan produced a line of toys where the boats are copies of the originals. Matched with a period correct car and trailer, these toy lines are quite collectible today.
The focus on wooden boats for AristoCraft seemed to come to an end in 1959. Even working 24/7, the boat plant was retooled to accommodate for the newer fiberglass boat productions. The 17' Funliner was the first of the AristoCraft fiberglass boats, eventually being reworked through various models to the AristoCraft 19' that continues to be seen on the water today. Introducing to the industry a double-hull upright flotation with no wood was quite a change for the boating industry. At under $1000, it was quite a family boat. Three hundred employees were put to work to meet demands for this popular boat. Production was stopped in 1980 as Claude Turner, the man who started it all, chose to retire.
Today, the 1956 model Torpedo is being re-made using the same jigs as in the 1950's. You can explore these options of the newer boats in the new boat section of the web site.
A complete AristoCraft collection is housed in a museum-type setting, displaying one of every model boat produced, including some rare, one of a kind, boats. All production records, brochures, literature, and manufacturer's photographs are available for research. Original AristoCraft promotional memorabilia is featured as well.
This collection is owned by William (Bill) Turner, son of manufacturer Claude H. Turner.