Gar Wood History

Garfield Arthur Wood had strong family ties to production boating. His father was the captain of the ferryboat Osakis, near Minneapolis, Minn. Gar helped out as crew from age 10 and in a few short years was involved in commercial boating and had designed the first downdraft carburetor for marine applications. Gar Wood went on to design and then manufacture some of the world’s most successful race boats of the era, as well as some of the most sought-after premium production wood vessels.

Gar Wood Boats began stock production in 1921 and ran to 1947. Early production was limited in style and design, as these models were basically carryover from the Baby Gar race boat design, built for Gar Wood by Chris-Craft. Early Gar Wood production numbers were limited when compared to Chris-Craft. Like most of the other production manufacturers of this time, the next year’s models were produced in the latter half of the previous year. All 1931 boats were carryovers.

Gar Wood Boats' success was directly tied to owner Garfield Wood’s dominance in winning almost every race he ever entered. His hands-on designs and special engine configurations were considered the leading technology of the era. From his very first race boat, Leading Lady (commissioned in 1911) to a string of Gold Cup and the Harmsworth Trophy victories, to racing locomotives (in some cases more than 1,000 miles), Gar Wood's designs are among the most sought-after and valuable boats today.

This guide will first address these most popular models and address lesser production runs as data becomes available. More specific technical information may be found on the Gar Wood Society website at or the Antique Boat Museum website at

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