So far we’ve covered Old Boat Ads from 1970 through 1975 and a smattering of older years where information was available. For the last article, Old Bass Boats – 1975, there were 16 boat manufacturers who advertised in the various magazines I could locate. In 1976, where my magazine collection really starts to become deep with respect to magazines other than Bassmaster, the number of boat manufacturers advertising jumped to 26, almost a 65 percent increase.
With this, 9 companies new to advertising their product in the major magazines started showing off their wares. These new companies were Baretta, Delta Pro, Fish Master, Holiday, MFG, Raider, Roughneck, Stryker, and X-Calibur.
Although most companies changed their ads from their 1975 versions, they’d only run one or two different ads in the magazines from issue to issue. Two companies, Hydra Sports and Ranger, went on major campaigns featuring between six and eight different ads – some of them two and three-pagers.
Another interesting aspect of the ’76 campaign were companies like DuPont advertising their new Kevlar product and using Hydra Sports pictures. In fact, looking at the DuPont ads you’d swear it was an Hydra Sports ad.
Second on the “incidental” list was, of course, the Bassmaster Classic boat. Four-page ads in every issue with the Ranger boat. I’ll talk more about that later on.
Missing from this year’s ads were companies like Rebel (at this point they were no longer manufacturing bass boats) and Ouachita. No idea what happened to Ouachita in 1976 but this was about the time the company went out of business from what I understand.
Because of this we’re having to break this piece up into two parts. This week we’re going to go from A (Arrow Glass) to G (Glastron) and then finish up with H (Holiday) through X (X-Calibur) along with the Classic rig. So, without further ado, here are the boats of 1976.
Arrow Glass – It seems that Arrow Glass, although one of the big boat manufacturers there was, just didn’t care about advertising their goods with color ads. In fact, now looking back at six years’ worth of their ads, I don’t recall but maybe one color ad. They always produced great ads showing what their boats featured, which was important, but looking at the ads from a consumer standpoint, they didn’t sell as well as the full-color motion ads many of the others were going to.
This year Arrow Glass featured three models; the 15’-6” Meteor, the 17’-0” Nova LTD MK-1 and the undescribed Nova LTD MK-2, which looks like an even bigger boat than the MK-I.
Baretta – To say it nicely, here’s an “interesting ad from Baretta Bass Boats. This is the first time I’ve seen a Baretta ad in any magazine, this one coming from the International Bass Association – Bass News, and I have to say, I really don’t see much. I’m not sure why the company would only show the cap of the boat (maybe they hadn’t designed the hull yet) and it was a bad angle at that. You can’t see anything the boat offers, stats, interior, did I mention the hull?
They state that they are introducing “America’s Top High Performance Boat,” so maybe they were trying to add a little suspense with the reveal. Still, you’d think that a new company would want to capitalize on their ad dollars by giving the reader all the scoop. Maybe that’s why I’m not in marketing.
Bass Cat – In 1976 Bass Cat Boats ran ads in every issue of Bassmaster Magazine, up from two issues the year before. They also ran ads in the Bass Caster’s Association’s Lunker Hole magazine. Each ad was essentially the same ad used in 1975, showing Basil Bacon, Jerry Crowell and Tommy Martin, along with their DXL Tournament and XL models. I’m not sure whether or not they advertised in earlier BCA (or other magazines) as I don’t have any earlier issues that feature their ads. I do know from talking to Rick Pierce, though, that they did support BCA and PSI during the years prior to 1976.
Chrysler – Chrysler Marine again was advertising their bass boat and motor lineup in all the bass-centric magazines in 1976. This year, though, they were more focused on letting the consumer know about their new lower unit – probably because they had had so many problems in the past. This single ad was placed in nearly every magazine I looked through for the year. All that was said about the boats was they offered a full line of bass boats from 15- to 17 feet in length. The ad also featured their new Bass Runner 105 – no words on its stats, though.
It was a great looking boat for the period but for some reason, Chrysler could never build a boat (or motor) that would last. Even with Corinthian leather and Lee Iacocca, Chrysler Marine was a failure from the start.
Delta Marine – Here’s an interesting one for you speed freaks. Delta Marine, a company I’d never heard of before now, is advertising their new world record for 85 HP Stock Class Bass Boat – I assume on their 15-foot boat. Delta Marine, out of Sharpsville, IN. is advertising two of their models, a 17-footer and the 15-footer mentioned before. I like the fact they give all the stats for the boats.
What’s amazing is looking back on how light these rigs were back then. The 17-foot model weighed a bit over 800 pounds while the 15-footer came to the scales at just over 600 pounds. No wonder these boats flew.
I’m not sure how long they had been around or lasted but they appear to be pretty neat little boats for the time. Notice the bench seat on the 17-footer and the small rod lockers on both models. Man we have it easy these days.
DuraCraft – In 1976 DuraCraft came out with their first “Bass Fisherman Models” to add to their large line of aluminum boats. There are specifications on the three models – essentially length, beam, and maximum horse power rating but other than that, you’re left to guess.
The 17-foot model displayed is advertised as having a casting platform, which leads one to believe the smaller 14-foot models didn’t have. There’s no mention of livewells and unless the storage is under the driver’s and passenger’s seats, there appears to be none. Still, DuraCraft was known for making solid aluminum boats and I’m sure they would start to take some of the market share from Fisher Marine at this time.
Ebbtide – In 1975 Ebbtide placed their first advertisement that I could find in the literature. In 1976, they continued on by placing two more ads in Bassmaster but the fact that they seemed to be moving forward on this front isn’t what caught my eye. The name of one of their 1976 models is what did.
The Bass Tracker, as it was called, was billed as a performance bass boat with full instrumentation, two livewells and other nice features. At 15’-8” in length, the ad doesn’t give any horse power rating or other specifications for the hull.
What I wonder about most, though, is how long they held the name. Johnny Morris was soon to come out with his first bass boat offering, the 16-foot Bass Tracker aluminum boat, and it makes one think about law suits and/or copyright infringements. That question may be answered in the second ad, though.
The second ad reveals three of their models, the Super Bass Bandit, Super Tracker and Bushwhacker bass boats. These boats were constructed with a balsa wood core and hand laid fiberglass, with Kevlar as an option.
Now, if you compare the first ad with the second, you’ll notice that the first ad states Ebbtides were sold in 140 dealers worldwide. The second ad states that they were sold in 175 dealers. From this I would have to guess the second ad is older. If this is the case they make mention of only three models and the Bass Tracker isn’t one of them. But maybe they changed the name to Super Tracker? Seem reasonable?
Eldocraft – in 1975 Eldocraft advertised six different bass boats in their line. In 1976, that number had risen to 11. The Smackdown, AR company had been in business manufacturing boats a long time and had obviously embraced the bass boat world. They made a solid , fast boat for the time with ample storage and creature comforts. Makes you wonder what happened to companies like Eldocraft and why they aren’t around today.
Fish Master – Here’s another boat company I’m not familiar with, Fish Master. A LaGrange, GA company who was advertising two different hulls, a 16-footer and an 18-footer Both with outboard and I/O options.
If you look at the features offered on the boat you might think you’re looking at one of today’s boats. These things were loaded. But what grabbed my attention right off the bat was the hull design of the 18-foot model. The hull looks a lot like the hulls of today’s bass rigs – a v-hull. There’s no mention if there’s a pad at the stern but from looking at the pictures, the stance of the boat suggests there might be one.
If anyone has any information on these boats I’d like to hear from you. It’d be nice to know more about these boats.
Fisher Marine – In years past Fisher Marine had up to eight different ads in the magazines but in ’76, they whittled that down to just three. Yes, they still had ads in every magazine I looked through for the year but maybe they were starting to feel the pinch of the economy.Glastron Bass Boats,
In years past Fisher Marine had also talked about a number of their models. This year they deviated from that stance and instead talked about “who” was fishing their boats. In all three ads placed that year, Bill Dance was featured in each of them and John Powell was with Dance in one of those. I guess with Bill and John in your boats, you didn’t really have to say much more than that.
Glastron – Prior to 1976, Glastron ads had always been pretty boring – generally showing a couple of older guys fishing in one of their tubs. No action at all. Then in 1976 they introduced low-profile, fast HP-154. Not only was the ad an action shot, it looked as if the boat was coming out of the paper it was printed on.
Fully integrated pad, lifting strakes and slotted strakes, the boat was one of the fastest bass boats on the market at the time. The boat wasn’t only a high-performance hull, it had all the features the serious bass angler would need.
As stated in the beginning of this piece, we’ll be bringing you everything else from ’76 – Holiday to X-Calibur – early next week.