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GMC Cobra Jet Boats History

328 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  pitaji445
Hey everyone, we wanted to give you a brief history about the company, it’s roots, it’s operating days, and post operating days.

General Marine Corp. was incorporated in 1975. They purchased a struggling Ski Boats Inc. out of Milwaukee Wisconsin. Ski Boats Inc. originated out of California pre 1974. They made v drive and jet boats in the Midwest until mid 1975. When GMC took over we focused on the jets, while providing dealers the opportunity to add outboard and stern drive options. The outboards and stern drives were added at the dealers.

1976 rolled around and we sold 16’, 18’ low pros and our new 18’ walk through models. We powered the majority of our boats with Berkeley jet pumps paired with Olds and Ford big block motors.
1977 came around, and we were busy as ever. Focusing on those two models, We offered Berkeley pumps with the new Oldsmobile 403 motors and Ford 460 big blocks. By the end of the year we hd turned the company around and managed to make a profit.
In 1978 we introduced a new model to the family, the 16’ walk through windshield jet. These were a big seller in Michigan! These were powered with Berkeley 12je pumps, and they came standard with an Oldsmobile 350. You could even power up to a 403 if you wanted to. Each one of our jet boat molds were modified to accept the 12je pumps. This production year we also discontinued the 18’ lo pro model. In February of this year we were a featured boat in the Popular Mechanics magazine. We also started construction on our new 18’ open bow model.

In 1979 we offered 3 jet models. The 16’, 18’, and 18’ open bow. The open bow models sold mostly in Michigan and Iowa, while the 16’ model remained a good seller in Michigan. By the end of 1979 we got pretty slow and boat sales tanked.

In 1980 we were barely hanging in there. We offered a new engine to boaters by powering our 16’ models with Ford 302 v8s. Unfortunately 1980 ended up being our last year in business. We liquidated everything and moved back to Rockford. In all, we sold around 2000-2500 boats.

After 1980 there were a handful of companies that used our molds, dating all the way until 1997.

The companies that used our molds were:
Cimmaron, Sierra, Thunderbolt, Tristar, Acura, Aquatron, and Wisconsin Custom Boats. Of all the different companies, Cimmaron and Sierra had the greatest success over all the years.


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Interesting history. Why the sudden drop in sales? Just curious, but why does the yellow boat have the wheel on the port side? They are both beautiful boats.
Because by 1980 the Jimmy Carter economy, not to mention the energy crisis of 1979, had just about killed the boating industry. Seemingly over night half of the shops around here were gone. Hawaiian(Tahiti pt.II) went tits up as did most of the high volume builders. I lucked out and landed a job at Rogers Custom Boats. I was at the right place at the right time. I had know Roger my whole life as he grew up with my mom but had up til then mostly worked in the glass dept. He taught me how to rig, later than most guys as I was already 23 and had about 13 years working at Tahiti/Hawaiian under my belt. Plus he taught me how to refine my glass working skills. Still my favorite part of building a boat and I keep a gallon jug of tooling resin in the garage, every now and then open it up and take a few deep breaths.

Love that shit.
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