Few boats take on a persona that is bigger than life. This may be just such a boat. In the 1920’s Edsel Ford commissioned designer George Crouch and Henry B. Nevins of City Island New York, to build the 40 foot speedboat TYPHOON at a cost of $39,900, a staggering price, when a Model A Ford roadster cost $475, a 4 bedroom brick home cost $2,500 and America’s most expensive automobile, a Duesenberg Double Cowl phaeton cost $15,000. TYPHOON’s power was a 2000 cubic inch V12 aircraft engine. Edsel Ford died in May of 1943. At that time, a Mr. Howard Hughes owned the Hughes Tool & Die machine shop in Detroit which was doing contact work for the war effort. Hughes knew of TYPHOON sitting on her cradle in the Ford Boathouse on the Rouge River and arranged to see her. The Ford Estate sold her to Hughes who ran her on the Detroit River during WWII. At a time when Gasoline was rationed, clandestine barrels of aviation gasoline made their way into TYPHOON’s tanks. Somehow she survived the war, several subsequent owners, several repowerings and several restoration attempts, but ultimately TYPHOON secumed to a devastating fire at Bryant’s boat yard in Seattle in the 1960’s.
Mark Mason acquired George Crouch’s original India ink drawings for TYPHOON in the 1970’s and held onto them for years in the hopes that one day he might build a very special boat. In 1989 Mason met the perfect enthusiast who commissioned NEB&M to build a 34 foot TYPHOON, inspired by Edsel Ford’s boat. Luminary automobile designer, Strother MacMinn, came East from his 45 year teaching position at Art Center College of Design to help loft TYPHOON full size at Mason’s shop in Laconia, New Hampshire. TYPHOON was an immediate sensation at shows and exhibitions across the boating world. She was shown in the entrance Lobby of the New York Boat Show and from Muskoka Lakes, Ontario to the Paris International Boat Show, where she was a show stopper, stunning crowds everywhere. Thousands of scale models have been built of TYPHOON and have been seen in Museums and collections in the far corners of the earth.
Nearly thirty years later, TYPHOON’s owner has passed ownership to his son, carrying on the great tradition of mahogany speedboats to the next generation on Lake Winnipesaukee.