The Legacy

Hand Crafted Since 1908

The legacy is that of John L. Hacker (1877-1961), the preeminent naval architect of mahogany pleasure crafts of the last century, whose designs included some of the greatest mahogany boats ever built, with exotic names such as Pardon Me, Thunderbird, El Lagarto, Bootlegger, Peerless, Dolphin, Kitty Hawk, Belle Isle Bear Cats, My Sweetie, among others.

In the 1930’s, our celebrated boats were named “The Steinway of Runabouts,” and have exhilarated people around the world: Gold Cup racers, celebrities, royalty, captains of industry… and those who simply want the very best.


At age 14, John L. Hacker builds his
first boat – a rowboat. He soon
enrolls in correspondence courses
and attends night school to learn naval
architecture – the art and science of
boat design.


Meets Henry Ford as each patronizes
the same machine shops in Detroit.
Thus begins a life-long professional
relationship that lasts until Ford’s death
in 1947.


Builds the Kitty Hawk II – Billed as “…
the fastest boat in the world for power”
– the first 50-mph boat in the United
States. In mid August 1912, at the
Chicago Regatta, Kitty Hawk II catches
fire and sinks offshore.


Designs and builds a V-bottom 32’
runabout for use on Lake George,
New York. He moves the engine to a
mid-ship location and installs a cockpit
containing the controls forward of it.
This design change begins what will
become the classic runabout type.


Builds six runabouts for E.W. Gregory
of Belle Isle Boat and Engine Company.
These are the earliest models of his
famous Belle Isle Bear Cats runabouts.
Hacker’s reputation grows as he becomes
the most influential runabout
designer-builder in America.


The famous Hacker Boat Company trademark
logo. Designed by Hacker in 1916, the
logo is applied by hand over a sized
pattern with extremely thin 23
carat gold leaf sheets, tapped onto the
boat’s mahogany planing then burled
and outlined in paint. This process
known as Gold Gilding, is still used on
today’s Hacker Boat Companys.


Builds the Lockpat II for former race
car driver Dick Locke. This boat is a
complete departure from the usual
Hacker design – a spectacular 40 foot
torpedo shaped runabout.


El Lagarto, designed and built by Hacker
in 1922, wins its first of three consecutive
Gold Cup World Championships
defeating Horace Dodge Jr’s Delphine IV,
on the Detroit River, the strong
favorite and defending Gold Cup
champion. The next two Gold Cup
championships are held on Lake George,
New York, as El Lagarto wins the 1934 and
1935 Gold Cup and is the undisputed
“fastest boat in the world” Today, El
Lagarto is a featured attraction in the
Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain
Lake, New York.


During World War II, Hacker contributed to the war effort by redesigning Army Air Force rescue boats. Although the company’s production facilities were limited and precluded mass production of wartime boats, the company did build 45-foot picket boats. The boats had twin engines, and both propellers were right-handed screws instead of being opposed. This was intentional as it let the engines be replaced or interchanged quickly without regard to the way the propellers turned. In 1944 the Hacker Boat Company won and “Army-Navy E” award for the excellence of its war production.


The Hacker Boat Company, Inc. is the world’s largest builder of classic mahogany motorboats, builders of Hacker-Craft, with corporate headquarters and boatyard facilities located in Upstate New York.

Hacker-Craft are considered one of the most authentic American-made brands. Our master craftsmen build and restore the wooden boats using the benchmark process and quality standards that launched the legacy. We toil thousands of hours over every Hacker-Craft, always sanding one more time or applying another coat of varnish to ensure the ultimate mirror finish.

The Hacker-Craft fleet includes Runabouts, Racers, Sport Boats, Sportabouts, Sterlings, and one-of-a-kind yacht tenders. Our tenders are custom designed for each client and hand-built to perfectly balance luxury and utility while providing optimum comfort and performance, even in the harshest coastal conditions.

Hacker-Craft were named as one of “America’s Top 50 Products” by Forbes Magazine. An especially designed Neiman Marcus Edition Hacker Boat Company was selected as a “fantasy gift” in the famous Neiman Marcus Christmas Book catalog. Our boats have been featured in advertising campaigns for many of the world’s premier brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Marks & Spencer and Tommy Bahama.