A boat/power upgrade for funny man Tim Allen


Former “Home Improvement” star Tim Allen, a.k.a. Santa Claus in “The Santa Clause” movies, will be tooling around Lake Michigan next summer in a new 54-foot Uniesse powered by twin 1,015-hp Caterpillar diesels.

“The real Tim Allen loves power,” the 50-year-old television, movie and comedy star said at a Caterpillar press event at the Miami International Boat Show in February.

Allen, who played Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor in the wildly successful “Home Improvement” television series, is upgrading from a 42-foot Uniesse to the Italian builder’s new 54 SL (www.uniesse.com). He boats out of Michigan’s scenic upper peninsula and says he likes the Great Lakes’ notoriously heavy weather. The Uniesse takes the steep seas well, says Allen, but he wanted a bigger boat with more power than a 54 usually carries — and Cat had the power package to do it.

“I don’t need more room in the saloon,” he joked. “I need more room in the engine bay. … I like diesels, especially the way these things chug.”

Allen expects the 59,000-pound Uniesse to reach 45 knots with the twin 18-liter C-18s. The most powerful of Cat’s in-line six-cylinder engines, the C-18s are turbocharged and aftercooled, and have one of the lowest weight-to-horsepower ratios of any of the new C engines, according to Caterpillar. The Uniesse carries 700 gallons of fuel, for a reported 400-mile range at maximum rated speed with fuel consumption of 51.7 gallons per hour.

The Uniesse — an open or sportboat designed by American Fred Hudson and built in Chiuduno, Italy — also will carry a Cat C-1.5 auxiliary genset for on-board power and Cat multistation controls.

The 54 SL Coupe is a design that was prototyped in Italy last fall; Allen’s 2,030-hp (combined) version will be among the first delivered to the United States.

A native of suburban Detroit — The Motor City — Allen grew up tinkering with cars and racing them. He said Caterpillar has a solid reputation with “motorheads” like him. “They build really wonderful engines,” he said.

Allen does have a real affinity for things mechanical, and with big engines. He carries around in his wallet a photo of a recent acquisition: a pickup truck with 1,200-hp engine. And one of his companies, Tim Allen Design, customizes cars. His latest design is a Cadillac CTS.

Allen expects to use his new Uniesse this summer, and said he plans to keep it in Northport, north of Traverse City on Lake Michigan.

Playing off Caterpillar’s reputation for manufacturing heavy equipment, Allen told the crowd of well-wishers gathered at the Caterpillar boat-show booth, “Now I can plow roads and move dirt!”