Style for the Seventies

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In the 1960s, the marine engine and equipment conglomerate OMC—known best for its outboard engines—formed a boating division. It would produce and market fiberglass pleasure boats under the Johnson brand name. The 16-foot Johnson SeaSport II shown in this 1970 brochure image is a good example of its designs.

These boats were meant for active fun. Gone was the closed floor plan of double- and triple-cockpit runabouts that were meant for riding around and enjoying the scenery. The Johnson boats were instead built for stopping to take a swim, breaking out a fishing rod or pulling up on a beach for a picnic.

A 1968 magazine article called the bluff-bow, somewhat rectangular SeaSport II with its wide-open interior “a seagoing sports car [with] snappy performance, spacious accommodations and top-notch construction.”

Standard power came from a four-cylinder, 120-hp Johnson gas engine coupled to a Johnson sterndrive unit. That gave the 1,900-pound boat a cruising speed in the mid-20-knot range. (An optional V-8, 155-hp Johnson engine was offered.) Price for the SeaSport II ranged from $4,000 to $4,500.

Those writing about the Johnson SeaSport II acknowledged that the boat had an unorthodox look, but they did say it was “better conceived and executed than many a salty, traditional hull of yesteryear.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue.

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