Old Ranger Bass Boat ad from 1973 touting their TR-4 bass boat.

Okay, it’s been a while since we’ve done a Retro Boat piece here, so I thought it would be good to pick up where we left off. Here is Old Bass Boat ads – 1973.

By 1973, bass boats and bass boat companies were coming out of every one-stop town in the U.S. In 1972, 11 manufacturers put ads in the top bass fishing magazines and 1973 would feature 15 boat manufacturers and I’m sure there were a number of other companies who hadn’t yet made the leap to advertise.

New this year to the ad campaign were companies like Bass Charger, Chrysler, Gold Line, Hydra Sports, StarCraft. Gone from this year’s lineup were Cordell and Boston Whaler.

Here’s a look at some of what was available to the bass clan in 1973.

Arrow Glass:  Evidently Arrow Glass decided that advertising was good for business. In 1972 they featured one boat in their ads and in ’73 they upped the ante to three models. What I like about the Arrow Glass ads is they place the details of their boats in their ads, which gives the prospective buyer a chance to see exactly what their different models offer.

Chosen for this year’s ad campaign were three models from 14’-8” to 16’-2”. The 14-foot model, the Tarpon MK II, had a beam of 65 inches, depth of 28 inches, a maximum BIA horsepower rating of 60 hp, and a maximum weight capacity of 1180 pounds. The hull weight was 500 pounds and also featured positive floatation, livewell, ice box, mechanical steering rod racks and “deep wing” seats. One of the things I found interesting was the driver actually sat in the rear pedestal seat – not a very safe aspect when you think about it.

The next boat in their lineup was actually for a 1974 model but we’ll talk about it anyway. The 15’-2” Muskie S-6 was an interesting design. Notice how far forward the driver’s console and seat are with respect to the front deck. Also apparent in the photo is the fact that the front pedestal seat is placed off-center of the front deck. Why they’d do that is beyond me but if you look at the boat layout, it was more than likely to give the driver a better forward view. Also it appears that the rod locker and deck are upholstered and that’s presumably where the other angler would sit while under power. Another interesting fact is this 15-foot boat was rated for a 100 hp motor.

The biggest model of the three advertised was the 16’-2” Trophy MK VI. A full foot longer than the S-6, this boat was only rated for a 75 hp motor. Again, it had all the amenities including a livewell, ice box, lockable rod storage and weighed in at a mere 600 pounds – light enough for smaller cars to tow.

1973 Arrow Glass Composites Bass Boats.

Bass Charger:  Based out of Lebanon, MS, Bass Charger started their national advertising campaign in ’73. I don’t know much about Bass Charger boats and wonder if this company was the predecessor of Charger. They offered seven different models, unfortunately none of their specifications are in any of the ads.

Shown in the two ads available are the Citation and Diplomat. The Citation looks like an good boat. Lots of room, what appears to be a big livewell, rod racks and stick steering. It also looks like it, along with the Diplomat, have Johnson 70s hanging off their sterns. Nice looking boats for the day but sure would like more information on them.

1973 Bass Charger ad.

Chrysler:  Here’s a good one. Probably one of the first “package boats” available, Chrysler offered packages that included boat, motor and trailer. They offered five different models from 15 feet in length to 17 feet. The ad doesn’t have much information with respect to the actual boat layouts and it seems they were more interested in talking about the motors than anything else.

A peculiar claim of, “exclusive power trim and tilt,” is also mentioned. Did Chrysler invent this or did they buy the rights to it from another outboard manufacturer? If they invented it, it was probably the best thing they ever did in the boating world – as their boats and motors weren’t known for being very reliable. I also wonder how long Jerry McKinnis was with them?

1973 Chrysler Bass Boat ad.

Fisher Marine:  Again Fisher Marine was back with a very aggressive ad campaign – including the ever-present bikini-clad woman. Like I said in Old Boat Ads – 1972, Fisher Marine holds a dear spot in my heart. One of the early pioneers of inexpensive aluminum bass boats, they were prevalent wherever there was water. Inexpensive to operate, the boats could be launched essentially anywhere. Their layouts were well thought out and for as small as they were they had a lot of room.

1973 Fisher Marine Bass Boat ads.

Glastron:  In 1973, Glastron Boats advertised their Beau Jack V-169. A ’72 model boat the V-169 was rated for an 85-hp motor, had a raised front deck, console steering, livewell, and built-in anchor mounts. Like most boats of the time, each gunwale had lure trays – imagine this on a boat of today. I guess you didn’t have to worry about baits flying out of the boat when they only did 45 mph. Still what happened when you hit a decent wake? There went that $50 Big-O!

1973 Glastron Bass Boat ad.

Gold Line:  Here’s a doosey for you – the Gold Line Jet Bass Boat. Made by Mirly Hahs of Cape Girardeau, MS, the Gold Line is as much of a tank as it appears. Although there is no information on the power plant, just looking at the back deck one can see exactly how much space is wasted by the motor. Not only that, the rear angler appears to be a good 2 feet off the water.

There are no specifications on the boat models, only stating they offer 16- and 18-footers. In their claims they say the boat can go anywhere and everywhere with their 2-inches of draft at full speed. Does anyone know how long this company was in the jet bass boat business and did they ever fix their layout problems?

1973 Gold Line Bass Boat ad.

Hydra-Sports:  Okay, now we’re rolling. This was Hydra-Sports first year advertising in the national magazines and I’m sure this ad really had heads turning. Although the ad doesn’t say much at all about the boat, the company or models offered, the picture says it all. This is probably the first boat ad I’ve seen where the boat actually looks like a contemporary boat of today – and it appears to be blazing down the lake. The console is placed further aft than other boats we’ve seen, the modified tri-hull design seems efficient, and the interior appears to have ample room for the tournament angler. And check out their pro-staff list, which included Stan Sloan, Bobby Murray, Billy Westmorland and Glin Wells. The ad may have left out a lot of information but it creates a mystery that makes you want to know more about the boat and the company.

1973 Hydra-Sports Bass Boat ad.

King Fisher by Master Molders:  Unfortunately King Fisher didn’t print a new ad for their 1973 lineup, deciding to place a 1972 ad in the magazines. The ad shows the typical bathtub style hull of their 156 Pro model and they were still pimping the Pro Throne bass seats. What bothers me is they had 13 models available, yet their ad campaign didn’t show any of them.

1973 King Fisher by Master Molders Bass Boat ad.

MonArk:  MonArk again hit the campaign hard, this year showing six different models in five ads including an aluminum model. From 14 feet in length to 17-1/2 feet, MonArk had a number of boats to fit anyone’s needs. The Delta III was a 16 1/2-foot, stick steer model rated for a 65-hp motor. The 17 ½-foor Super Pro LTD came in both an I/O and outboard model and was one of the biggest bass boats of its day.

The Bass Special was the all-aluminum boat, offered in both 14- and 16-foot versions with either tiller or stick steering as an option. They also offered the Mark II and Riviera Series lines with the Riviera offered in both console and stick steer versions.

1973 MonArk Bass Boat ads.

Ouachita:  In the past we’ve presented the Ouachita ads and their penchant for placing scantily-clad ladies in them. This year it appears that Ouachita was ready to get rid of the sex and concentrate on their boats. Again they feature their Convincer boat line and the standard features they had. Unfortunately, they still don’t place any hull specifications in their ads.

So, do you think that if Kevin Short was competitively fishing back then he’d have been in a Ouachita? This has to be the first pink boat ever made.

As an extra, in a few days we’ll have another piece up on Ouachita, this time a reader submission of a ’73 K-style boat he owns and fishes out of every weekend.  It’s a really awesome story that includes some 1972 and ’73 manufacturer catalogs and a ton of pics of the boat in action.

1973 Ouachita Bass Boat ads.

Ranger:  By 1973 Ranger had become synonymous with bass boats and their ad campaign showed it. They started off advertising their staple, the TR-3 in the normal advertising manner. A picture with anglers using the boats the way they were normally intended to be used. Then, in order to show how tough their new TR-4 was, they decided to jump the thing, Burt Reynolds Gator style, at Cypress Gardens in Florida. The resulting tests provided the shot for their TR-4 ad that very year. Makes me wonder how many bass fishermen have tried to do the same? I know I’ve jumped a few sandbars in my time.

1973 Ranger Bass Boat ads.

Rebel:  Rebel ads have me a bit confused. Is Rebel trying to sell their lures or their boats? In my opinion, they should have had two ads, one displaying their baits and another displaying their boats – but what do I know.  I guess it costs less to kill two birds with one stone.

Anyway, Rebel was offering five rigs by 1973 – what appears to be a 17-foot jet, three different outboard models and an I/O. It’s too bad they didn’t elaborate on the boats more in this ad because it would be nice to see exactly what their specs were along with what they offered. To be honest with you, I’m more interested in the $3.00 offer on the baits.

1973 Rebel Bass Boat and Bait ads.

StarCraft:  Here’s a noteworthy ad for long-time boat maker StarCraft. Normally you don’t associate Bill Dance with anyone other than Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Marine and Nitro. But during his early years, one of his first boat sponsors was StarCraft (If I’m not mistaken, I think he was with Ranger prior to this and would then move on to Hydra-Sports).

Anyway, StarCraft is featuring their 16-foot pro model and from the looks of it, it was a pretty nice boat. It had a rod locker that could accommodate 7-foot rods and a nice overall layout. Not much other information is given, like overall dimensions and ratings but they do state that they offer an 18-foot model, which might have been the first 18-footer available in the industry.

1973 StarCraft Bass Boat ad.

Terry:  Delhi Manufacturing (Terry) may be the second true manufacturer of the modern bass boat. Unfortunately, their ad campaign by 1973 was starting to look dated. Yes they made a great boat but from the ads it was difficult to figure out what their specs were. Still with folks like Grits Gresham on their staff, they were one of the big dogs on the block.

A few years later their ads would become better and their hull design would morph into a pad boat that had performance written all over it. I can’t wait to get to those years so we can get rid of this old picture of Grits and get to the really cool designs.

1973 Terry Bass Boat ad.

Tide Craft:  In 1972 Tide Craft was all about their 16-foot Mr Pro bass boat. In 1973, though, they debuted their new 17-foot Super Pro, rated for a 130-hp motor. At 880 pounds, the boat had a 1770-pound capacity and featured mechanical steering, rod holders, running lights, padded seats, rod storage, 2 livewells, bow storage, and fish stringer eyelets? Yes folks, people still kept their fish but why wouldn’t they use the livewell for that?  Don’t know.

As with their ad from 1972, this one isn’t much prettier and doesn’t really give you a good idea of just how big it is. At least they put the hull specs in this year.

1973 Tide Craft Bass Boat ad.

Past Reader Comments:

Rick Pierce:  I believe the Ranger advertisement had Mel Sergeant driving the rig. Mel was PR at Ranger back in those years and he was always a pleasure. He competed in BASS and a few other organizations also. Residing then in Hot Springs, AR.

Terry to Rick Pierce:  Thanks for coming by the site Rick and also for putting a name with that picture!

Rich:  I fished out of about half those boats back then. One buddy had a MonArk aluminum, another had a MonArk glass boat. Hankie from my favorite local tackle shop had a DTR17 Ranger that I still see on the water every now and then. One long time buddy ran one of those Arrowglass boats, and there were a couple Ouachitas in our crowd. And another regular fishing partner had a Glastron like one in that ad. A few years after these ads, Herb Reed was in a Hydrosport for a while. A few different friends had those Bill Dance Starcrafts.

To the best of my recollection by the way, Dance started with Starcraft, moved to Hydrosport, then Fisher. I think he was still with Fisher when BPS bought them out, and he kind of slid over to Tracker. But I remember both Bill and John Powell in Fisher’s at 1000 Islands one year. I asked Bill about Hydrosport, and he just said, “It was an amicable divorce.”

My regular fishing partner at the time had a Fisher just like the one with the blue carpeting in that ad. And of course, I ran a few different Terry boats over the years.

The one thing all those boats had in common — we caught fish out of all of them!

Terry to Rich:  Rich, there’s no doubt about that. They fished great and were relatively cheap to own and operate. Although you didn’t want to run them on big big waters, they functioned perfectly.

My boss at the tackle store had a 1974 Astro Glass that I fished out of quite a bit on the waters of southern Cal. We even fished the inshore ocean stuff with it. It had a 65-horse Merc on it and the livewell could easily accommodate a medium-sized teenager.