The iconic Thunderbird yacht is the most recognizable wooden speedboat in America. Since America’s Great Depression, Thunderbird has transported guests in opulent luxury between high-mountain estates and luxury resorts.
In 1939 George Whittell Jr., a character and raconteur, commissioned John Hacker, a Naval architect, to design an express commuter yacht in the style of Whittell’s personal DC-2 aircraft and his many Duesenberg automobiles. Thunderbird was constructed at the cost of $87,000 (over $1.5 million in today’s dollars), and was launched on July 14, 1940 in Tahoe City. Since then, Thunderbird has arguably become America’s most famous wooden boat. At 55 feet, she boasts Honduran mahogany hardwoods, polished stainless steel and elegant crystal. Her two vintage V-12 Allison Aircraft engines power her across the Lake-in-the-Sky at speeds approaching 70 mph.
In 1962, William “Bill” Harrah set out to acquire two of Whittell’s Duesenberg automobiles for his auto collection, but when he returned from his meeting with Whittell, he not only had the two automobiles, but the infamous Thunderbird as well. Her new owner made extensive modifications, adding a deck cover, expanding the deck and installing her dual V-12 Allison Aircraft engines. Harrah was quite the entertainer, and always had his “70 mile-per-hour cocktail lounge” poised and ready to entertain the celebrities from his casinos.
Thunderbird’s rich history includes transporting sports legends, recluses, stars, scientists, U.S. presidents, artists and terminally ill children. Some of the celebrity guests include Ty Cobb, Jack Dempsey, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby and Howard Hughes.
Our Thunderbird Lake Tahoe Yacht model is handcrafted at museum quality from high-grade woods such as mahogany, teak, and other exotic woods. The hull is constructed using a plank on frame method, each strip of exotic wood are carefully joined together to form a smooth hull. This model is completely hand built by skillful and creative master craftsmen. The boat has a gleaming color of red, white, and a clear varnished coating follows with amazing details. You will find a variety of beautifully chromed metal fittings such as: metal front windshield frame, metal ring gauges, metal steering wheel, metal horns, metal lights, metal propeller and much more.
We built our models according to scale through original plans, pictures, and drawings. We absolutely use no plastic parts, only the highest quality wood, and metal parts. This model is carefully packed with two thick layers of Styrofoam for a damaged free shipping purpose.