Jet Boards: Motorized Surfboards of the sixties!

Since Cathy and have been retired our days start at different times.  Generally I take my two and half mile walk through historic downtown Monterey then to coffee and the computer.  Thats when I do my Ebay and Craig Lists study!   Well, the other morning coming from our bedroom TV I hear antique surfboard!  I rushed into Cathy with a big grin (I always tease her about all these reality shows) watching American Restorations.  This episode aired on 10/28/2011.   Most likely it was shot in April 2011.  What a surprise I got, they found a Jet Board!  A motorized surfboard from the mid sixties!

So maybe you have seen them in a museum?  Or maybe you have seen them at a swap meet?  Just maybe that you have never seen one in your life!  What are they?

Jet Boards are the idea of Alfred Bloomingdale.   Yes, in the sixties he was the heir in waiting to the Bloomingdale fortune.   From extensive research (which wasn’t much) old Alfred (now deceased) did not like paddling his surfboard.   You know the rich they do not like to pay taxes and always want it easy!  It appears Alfred fell into that classification.  Alfred designed a surfboard with a motor.   I’m sure he was a Rush guy until the day he died!  The hulls were made by Sargent Fletcher company in El Monte.  The prototype was made of wood.  That design was not particle.  The productions models were made of aluminum with a foam based material.   Seeing photos of damaged Jet Boards it look like dock foam blew into the metal shell for floatation.  The Jet Board Corporation was located at 9255 Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles.   The board was powered by a Mc Cullough Chainsaw 2 cycle motor which produced a speed of 18 mph!  The Jet Boards retailed at $1700 in 1965.   Considering the average foam surfboard sold for around a $140 depending upon extras in that era.  They were way out of most surfers reach!  I cannot ever remember seeing a Jet Board in a Surf Shop!  There were only 200 sold.  There actually is a web site you can go to with serial numbers and original owners info!   The colors were Red, Green, Blue, Yellow and Orange.

Now back to the American Restoration show,  these guys on TV were stoked they knew they had a big ticket item on their hands.  The first thing they did was to see if they could get the motor to work.  That took some time.   Then they refinished the board leaving a polished aluminum stripe down the middle.   They artificially grained the surfboards so collectors would think it was a hot board.  I have to admit it did look nice.   But surfboard collectors do not like restored items.  Regardless of the outcome of the sale of this board or not.  I have mentioned this several times before surfboards with complete restoration jobs generally get 50% to 25% less than a surfboard in its original pristine shape!  The repainted the decal/logo on the board.  It did not look good!

So the big day came a customer is driving in from Los Angeles.  They go to meet the guy at a lake.  The young man drives up in a Black Mercedes with jet black spiked hair and an ear ring in his ear.   Did I mention that he was probably in his early thirties?   Did I also mention he was NOT a surfboard collector!  He was not a surfer!   The American Restoration crew blew an air horn and out from around the corner came one of his assistants on the board came.  They took the board out of the water.  The buyer said I have to have it, “How Much?”   The American Restoration guy said I was thinking $8500.  When I heard this I started laughing.  The buyer said how about $7000.  At that point I said “Sucker, Sucker” how about coming to Monterey?”.   They settled for $8000.   As I have mentioned to all of you before are Jet Boards worth $8000 in 2011, the word is NO!  This whole thing could have been staged for TV?   In the hey day of high prices I think I heard Steve Collins from the Longboard Collectors Club selling one for $6000.  However he had three or four in the original box that had never been used.   Unlike this board complete made over.   This was a one time sale!   The market is basically based on what everyone else is paying for that item.   No surfboard collector would pay more that a $1000 for this board in the present economy.   Unless it had a very special meaning to that person.   I know that Steve Collins would make you a better deal than the American Restoration guys!  I know what you thinking and I do not even need to say it!

Surf Memorabilia oddities are unique and very interesting.   However, how valuable are they?   Obvious the great da Coach did not have a clue when the young guy offered $7000?  Maybe he was Bloomingdale’s long lost nephew?  I’m sure his trust fund took a hit that month.   However, lets gets some talk about the odd items?  Remember that you’re reply with is a picture is worth a 1000 words!  Show us all those odd ball surf memorabilia items you have!

Keep Surfing,   da Coach

PS:  I am completely not interested in owning one of these boards, Never, Never.  I do not consider them a surfboard!  My personal opinion!


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