Chris-Craft Boats and classical yachts: Heritage & Technology

However advanced the marine industry becomes, there will always be something special about a classical style of motorboat such as Chris-Craft Boats. Whether it’s the slender, tapered hull forms, the rich woods and tactile leathers, the glittering steel detailing or the fond evocation of 1960s glamour, it’s an inescapable fact that, when you see a classic motor yacht, you tend to view it with a mixture of deep-rooted admiration and naked jealousy. Well if you enjoy the idea of a classic motorboat that is more comfortable, more reliable, more intuitive and more efficient than the coveted originals of the 50s, 60s and 70s, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s perfectly possible to buy a modern ‘classic’ with all the systems and technologies that make 21st century boating so easy and accessible…

  1. American icon: Chris-Craft Launch 35 GT

Having been founded in Michigan nearly 150 years ago, artisan craftsmanship continues to drive the Chris-Craft boats story. The modern 16-strong fleet provides some lovely traditional touches like diamond-pattern seat stitching, sporting three-spoke mahogany steering wheels, elegant wood inlays and glittering foredeck trumpet horns. But technology is also now an integrated part of the package.

The range-topping Launch 35 GT, for instance, features a spacious heads compartment, an air-conditioned double berth and a dual-screen Garmin control system with integrated audio, a powerful subwoofer and six-zone programmable LED lighting. There are three forward-facing bow loungers with built-in armrests and an electrically operated teak table. And in addition to inboard and outboard options, plus user-friendly joystick control, it also features a custom-crafted GT aluminium hardtop, with integrated speakers, a push-button sunshade and a colour-matched powder-coated finish. If you prefer more straightforward open boating pursuits, the Chris-Craft Calypso and Chris-Craft Catalina Series are ideal. And if you’re in search of a classical weekender, the Chris-Craft Corsair 34 is also a brilliant solution.

Chris-Craft boats Launch 35GT
  1. Dutch delight: Zeelander Z44

First unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in 2008, the Dutch Z44 is a supremely high-end take on the classical lobster boat – and the level of care it offers each lucky customer is truly special. For instance, such is the fluid curve of the Z44 that it takes 42 individual moulds to create the parts required to build it. The arching steel guardrails and the swept and faceted joinery are wonderfully satisfying to look at and to touch and, remarkably, the ‘wood’ trim beneath the external guardrails is a tough artificial material, hand-painted by a local artist to look like natural wood grain.

In terms of layout, the twin cockpit design with forward shelter, sociable helm and peripheral side decks, is very easy for large parties to enjoy. And it’s made even more so thanks to a vast flip-down hydraulic swim platform and an overhead canvas that remains unflappable even at 30 knots in a Force 5. It is, of course, extraordinarily expensive but with its glorious concoction of classical design, exquisite materials, painstaking finish and almost peerless exclusivity, the Z44 is guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine every time you step on board.

  1. Swedish celebration: J Craft Torpedo

The J Craft Torpedo goes all out in its passionate commitment to the style and glamour of the French Riviera’s golden age. Designed as the ultimate luxury all-rounder, this 42-footer is able to sleep four people in two climate-controlled cabins, while still making room for a forward saloon, a luxurious wetroom and a compact crew cabin. As you would expect, quality is supremely impressive. Each boat takes more than 8,500 painstaking man-hours to build and there is gleaming handcrafted cabinetry and sumptuous leather everywhere you look. The Nardi steering wheel is a work of art in its own right and there’s even an optional selection of bespoke glassware and china, alongside cutlery designed by none other than His Majesty Prince Carl Philip Bernadotte of Sweden.

But technology is also beautifully integrated. The main deck benefits from the full range of modern entertainment aids, including a fridge, an icemaker, an induction hob and an audiovisual entertainment system with Ipod compatibility. In addition to ultra-intuitive IPS joystick control, the helm is fitted as standard with Swedish trim control system, Zipwake, which automatically optimises running attitude for increased comfort, performance and efficiency. And if you’re keen to look demure and sophisticated at your favourite anchorage, you can even specify a gyroscopic Seakeeper stabiliser to help mitigate roll.

  1. British legend: Cockwells Titian Tender

From its charming HQ at Mylor Creek in Falmouth, Cockwells has developed a powerful reputation for the premium calibre of its work. While much of that has been built on the back of its thoroughly satisfying Duchy Motor Launch range, its bespoke superyacht tenders have also been garnering worldwide acclaim. The Titian Tender is a case in point. It is built from durable composites with “the resilience of yellow cedar and the sleekness of teak”. The stainless steel fittings are custom cast, the copper-infused caulking is a gorgeous touch and the silk panels and bespoke cabinetry could hardly be lovelier. But it’s a seriously advanced platform too. It uses a pair of 370hp Yanmar 8LVs, enabling it to carry eight people in supreme comfort at speeds approaching 40 knots. It also features twin jet drives for great shallow-water operation and superb manoeuvrability, plus an automated Bimini and a touchscreen switching system. It won the ‘Post-1980s’ category at the 2018 Cannes Yachting Festival’s prestigious ‘Concours d’Elégance’ and, as a boat that looks and feels like a match even for the world’s finest superyachts, it’s very easy to see why.

  1. Italian thoroughbred: Riva 76 Perseo Super

Few boats in the world have the power to inspire such fierce affection as Riva. With an impeccable 180-year history, an intimate connection with the Cote d’Azur’s golden age and decades of starring roles in Hollywood blockbusters, it is arguably the world’s most aspirational motor yacht brand. Of course, many people still crave one of Riva’s sought-after originals, like the lovely Riva Ariston or the Riva Junior of Brigitte Bardot fame; like the Riva Tritone Special Cadillac, which was the largest, fastest and most powerful Riva of her time; and like Carlo Riva’s best-known design, the iconic Riva Aquarama. But the modern Riva fleet is arguably the most alluring line-up yet…

You can still enjoy the classical lines, traditional deck layouts and ‘pinstriped’ mahogany foredecks of relatively classical Rivas like the Iseo, the Aquariva Super and the Rivamare. You can also explore the upper end of the spectrum in the form of superyacht style vessels like the Riva 76 Perseo Super, the 88 Folgore and the new flagship 110 Dolcevita. Or you can tap into Riva’s unrivalled expertise in chic open-top sports cruisers by exploring the exquisite new Riva 56 Rivale. Designed around the “super-luxury GT cruising concept”, it combines a sumptuous cockpit for 12 with a powered Bimini or a fixed hardtop and a large hydraulic bathing platform that is accessed by means of ingeniously ‘hidden’ stern steps. For sophisticated day boating thrills alongside custom-friendly cruising luxury, this lovely fusion of heritage and tech is as seductive as it gets.


Argo Yachting are the official distributors for Chris-Craft boats in the UK and Balearic Islands. For more information regarding the models available, whether new or used boats for sale, contact our team on +44 (0)1489 885656 or email

View the Chris-Craft range here.