Meet the 43′ 4X4 Ford Econoline Cabin Cruiser, The Boaterhome

by Owen James Burke

back of boaterhome

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This 1987 Ford Econoline 4×4 paired with a 28′ shallow V-hulled boat that sort of looks like a mini passenger ferry in the water. She sits low, with a relatively flat sheer line and a small bow, which probably means no offshore fishing trips, but she’ll hold her own on lakes (barring the Great Lakes on particularly foul days), bays and sounds–this would be the perfect machine for salmon season on Washington State’s Puget Sound.

That said, there was the Australian mining engineer (and madman) Ben Carlin and his converted 1942 GPW (General Purpose Willys) Ford amphibious U.S. Army jeep, the protagonists of James Nestor‘s book, Half-Safe: A Story of Love, Obsession, and History’s Most Insane Around-the-World Adventure. “It looked like a cross between a 4×4 and a rowboat,” Nestor wrote–and Carlin (along with wife, Elinore) endured hurricanes in that dinky little backwater launch. The military, which had never tested it on the high seas, later abandoned the vessel, ultimately deeming it unfit even for protected waters.


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You’d have to be really careful where you took this thing with that low-hanging inboard-outboard (260ci Marine Chevy V8).


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The Ford Econoline was the right choice for this beast for, among other reasons, her front end drive, which his handy at the ramp. Still you have to wonder about clearance. I can think of more than a few boat ramps where she’s run into trouble.


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A popup flybridge on top, a less garish paint job, and I could fancy myself at the helm of this strange sphinx of a vessel.


Above: Original schematics of the Boaterhome. (via The Petrol Stop).

According to auto blog The Petrol Stop, the original Boaterhome was built in 1996 by Highway Boaterhome Inc. in Ontario, Canada. Apparently, as few as 21 of these were ever made, each with slightly different layouts. This is probably the best of them all, but she could really use some good deck space.

Watch a couple of YouTube videos of the Boaterhome in action:

And then there’s this monstrosity, which looks like it just slid out of a disco-themed roller derby:

Rarely, these things go up for auction on eBay and other used car sites, and please, by all means, let us know if you come across one the market! –OJB

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