Dockside Classic: 1963 Crestliner Flying Crest – Cruisin’ The Lakes In Style


I wanted to save this one for a special occasion sometime down the road, since it really is a special boat. But with today being 1963 Day, I couldn’t resist posting this 50-year-old runabout.


What you’re looking at is a 1963 Crestliner Flying Crest. It’s a real survivor, still sporting all its factory parts and original paint, and powered by a 65 horespower Mercury outboard of the same year. I found it hiding in a suburban garage near St. Paul this spring, where an elderly gentleman had been keeping it since becoming its second owner in 1966.


According to the seller, the boat was rarely used – mostly for taking the kids and grandkids waterskiing once in a while. Outside of that, it sat – sometimes in his garage, sometimes in cold storage at the State Fairgrounds. Its condition was simply amazing, and its price more than fair; despite having a perfectly good 18′ deep V at home, I couldn’t pass it by.

I didn’t attempt to unfurl the canvas top before buying it, mostly because the seller confessed that it was shot (as best he could recall). Turns out it was factory original and in great condition – perhaps one of the last ones of its kind that’s still in one piece.

About the only incorrect modification to be found is the horn, which works fine. The seller claimed it was off of some prewar Chevy, but I’ve been unable to determine exactly what it is. Can you identify it?


If you like Mercury marine products – and I do – this motor is a thing of beauty. It still looks new, inside and out. Even the inspection stamps are still visible. And dig that manual hydraulic tilt – it’s operated by a hand pump near the driver’s seat!


And that interior! It, too, might well be the best-kept original set in existence.

What makes this boat even cooler (to me at least) is that it was born and raised in Minnesota, just like yours truly. The hull was manufactured in Little Falls; the seats in St. Cloud (by the Stearns company, best known for their lifejackets and other hunting/fishing equipment), the trailer in St. Paul. The whole package was sold by a dealer in Minneapolis, whose tags are still intact on both boat and motor. And, just like myself, it has spent its life having fun on local lakes and rivers.


The boat and motor required little more than a tune-up and new tags to be operable again. It handled great, scooted around just as fast as any new boat it encountered, and was a blast all the way around.

But I know what I’ll always remember most about it: the one and only family outing we took with it, to Lake Mille Lacs. One afternoon and six gallons of mixed gas made for priceless memories. Everyone got a chance to drive – even my little sister (12) and my grandmother (85).


I really never needed two boats, and since I have no indoor storage for it, I decided to resell it rather than see it get weathered. (Seems like every time I get my hands on something truly nice, I end up passing it on.) A deal has been negotiated to place this boat in the Crestliner Museum. They’re very excited to acquire the boat, and I’m glad to know it will be well cared for.

Though I only had it for a matter of months, it was both an honor and a pleasure to have owned.

Postscript: Unfortunately, the museum deal didn’t end up working out. The boat is currently in the hands of another private party, who I understand is giving it all the loving care it deserves – and still taking it out a few times a year. Just as it ought to be, I think!  –KT