Chris-Craft Builds An Infiniti V8 Powered Mahogany Speedboat

Danny Choy
by Danny Choy

Infiniti‘s brawny 5.6 liter V8 proves to not only motivate land yachts but actual maritime yachts as well. Students at the Tennessee Technical Center-Nashville and Nashville State Community College have removed the titanic power plant from a donor Infiniti QX56 to ready it for maritime duty in an iconic 1962 Chris-Craft “Holiday” mahogany speedboat.

The 400-hp engine has been sent to Westbrook, Maine, where the engine bell housing was modified to be compatible with a ZF/Hurth marine transmission. Next, a shop in Alabama puts the Infiniti engine through a program called “marination, ” involving custom water-cooled exhaust manifolds and the adaptation of a closed cooling system. Then, the big V8 will be taken back to the Infiniti engine facility in Decherd, Tennessee so it could get tested on a dynamometer to assure that its performance numbers are still up to factory specifications. Finally, the engine will await for its final installation into the Chris-Craft’s hull.

In the past, Chris-Craft boats adopted engines including a 431-cubic inch Lincoln marine engine and a pair of 440-cubic inch Chrysler Hemi marine V8s. However, George “Dodo” Brockman, owner of Freeport Boat Outlet, and the director of the Infiniti boat project says, “The use of the powerful Infiniti QX56 V8 is fitting with the history of the particular craft. The Infiniti V8 is actually lighter than all of the previous powerplants and won’t require any special bracing or hull modifications to fit into the original engine bay.”

In line with its handcrafted heritage, the 1962 Chris-Craft “Holiday” is currently lying upside down in Freeport Maine ready to undergo a painstaking restoration process involving more than 600 board feet of high grade sustainably harvested mahogany to cover the framework, hull, transom, and deck. 15 coats of special marine varnish will be applied to the craft over a period of a month.

Brockman continued, “Before the future Infiniti lake cruiser can return to the water, we’ve had to tear it down to virtually nothing and start building it back up with fresh wood… Ultimately, it looks like we’ll have to replace nearly 85 percent of the original wood, one piece at a time, due to age and rot.” Brockman adds, “When the 20-foot Chris-Craft Holiday model was introduced in 1962, it was said to be one of the best performing Chris-Craft hulls ever produced. It cornered well, was easy to come on plane and was often used in nationally sanctioned water skiing events for just those reasons. We can’t wait to see how this classic design performs with the new engine.”

When the mahogany speedboat is complete, a custom boat trailer to match a 2012 Infiniti QX56 will also be built.

GALLERY: Infiniti Chris Craft

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  • Jim Jim on Dec 29, 2011

    Chris Craft is not building this project. It is a Chris Craft being restored in Freeport, Maine

  • Grant Grant on Dec 30, 2011

    No one would read a story with a headline of "Nissan powered boat" (e.g. outboards) or "Maine builder puts car engine in Old Chris Craft". Out of the 50 trade only email notices I get a week, this one got me to the site and the attached full articles. Sex sells as they say.