Consider this post a teaser for a much more in-depth piece Terry is writing concerning the history of Greene Boat & Motor. One thing many of you will likely remember from reading all the popular bass mags at the time was seeing the ads from Greene’s Boat and Motor of Spindale, NC, who, at the time, was the World’s Largest Ranger Dealer. I came across this great description of their operation this weekend from a local angler; “Hubert & his wife Rose (Rose, Sandy, and Hubert) had the largest Ranger dealership period…..they had a fantastic selection of Rangers and would make you a fair deal…..their service was second to none….in its heyday there were about 10 service bays and 2 rigging bays…they had 5 or 6 certified OMC techs and master mechanics….make an appointment like with a dentist and you would have your service work done in a couple of hours….when Johnson 150s were blowing heads they would rebuild them all winter and when you came in with the blown head they could have you back on the water the same day.”
Terry will likely get into all the dealer history and specifics in his interview piece, including Hubert’s passing in early 2007. What is fascinating to me at the moment, though, were the publicly advertised prices. I’ve been involved in several big discussions this winter over the rising cost of bass fishing, and at the heart of that conversation is current boat pricing.
A look back at this 1989 ad (featuring the new 1990 models) shows two great rigs, either of which would have been representative of a typical tour-class bass boat at the time. One was the 1990 Bass Cat Pantera II listed out at $17,695. For that price you got the following:
- 1990 Mercury XR4
- 1990 Bass Cat tandem axle drive on trailer
- (2) Lowrance 1240-A indash flashers
- CMC jackplate
- Dual bilge pumps
- Spare tire, surge brakes, Typhoon wheels
- MotorGuide 765 trolling motor (45 pound thrust) with 3 Gould batteries
The other boat listed is the 1990 Ranger 374V Commanche for $16,995:
- 1990 Mercury XR4
- 1990 Ranger Trail deluxe trailer
- (2) power pedestals
- twin 14 gallon fuel tanks
- 6-gauge wiring
- bilge pump
- MotorGuide 12/24 41 pound thrust trolling motor
- Humminbird graph
- 3 Gould batteries
You can’t read the fine print at the bottom of the ad, but the monthly payment for these boats at just over $200 was based upon a 10% down payment, a simple interest loan at 12.5%, and a finance term of 12 years.
If you priced a current tour-class model bass boat at the shows this winter, you likely found the average cost now running between $50,000-$70,000. Obviously inflation plays a part in this, along with the price of oil. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, that $17,000 1989 Ranger would cost $32,178.25 today. Similarly, a barrel of oil back in 1989 averaged $18.33, while the average price last year (2013) was $89.84, a nearly 5-fold increase. But another thing helping keep prices in check at the time was the Bassmaster engine limit of 150hp. That wouldn’t change for another 10 years during the 1998-1999 season. Once that horsepower restriction was lifted, that cleared the way for larger bass boats powered by even larger engines, arguably triggering a spike in boat price – while at the same time hammering the market for guys stuck in their 150hp rigs. They suddenly became awfully cheap as everyone wanted to jump into the new horsepower race.
Obviously, there were some other factors that came into play, but there are some that think we should get back to the days of 150hp outboards to try and keep the sport within reach of the average angler. These guys feel that the game has become a rich mans sport, and that the newer guys coming through the high school and college ranks will never be able to afford today’s tournament class rig.
Be watching for Terry’s piece and the inside story of Greene Boat & Motor, Inc.