Henry Ford apparently had “several” boats during his life, built between 1920 and 1924. This particular one – the last of eight built – is the only one that exists today. It’s also the only one to have been ordered by Henry himself.
It was named Evangeline, after Ford racing driver Raymond Dahlinger’s wife. More so, the story goes that Evangeline was a long-time Ford employee and close friend of Henry’s: she quickly became his personal secretary and was apparently one of the ten most influential people close to the Ford family.
So, that’s the name, let’s talk about the boat. It’s 33ft, and was built over the winter of 1923-1924 by the Hacker Boat Company (again, another lifelong Ford friend), and Ford itself. It featured a wraparound windscreen, louvered deck ventilators and four bucket-seat cockpit arrangement. Said features were wrapped into a bodyshape that today still looks really, really lovely.
Lovely power, too. The engine was lifted from a marine-converted World War I Liberty aircraft engine: a monster 27-litre V12 producing 450hp, and 1,250lb ft of torque. Suffice to say, power wasn’t really an issue.
What became an issue was an incident during the 1924 Gold Cup boat race: one of the eight boats Ford had – the one dubbed ‘Nine Nighty Nine’ – caught fire, and Henry Ford was said to have halted his involvement in boat racing for the time being. The whereabouts of the other seven boats remains a mystery, but Evangeline continued to be used.