Lake Tahoe Classic Boats

The Hacker Boat Co., founded by John L. Hacker in 1908, is the world’s oldest manufacturer of wooden motor boats. Hacker, a naval architect and motorboat designer, was renowned for his innovative designs and contributions to the marine industry including  the invention of the “V”-hull design. Hacker-Craft boats became synonymous with elegance and performance, offering a range of exquisite runabouts, utilities, commuters, and tenders.

Hacker’s journey began with a determination to solve speed and performance issues in motor boats. He introduced the concept of planning, where boats glide over the water instead of plowing through it. His pioneering 30-foot runabout, featuring the “V”-hull design and a unique propeller and rudder configuration, showcased the remarkable speed and efficiency achievable with low horsepower.


In 1904, Hacker designed Au Revoir, the fastest boat of its time, which led to the founding of the Hacker Boat Company in 1908.

Hacker’s designs revolutionized the boating industry and set the standard for American speedboats. His creations, including the Pardon Me, El Lagarto and the famous Thunderbird that is located right here in Lake Tahoe at the Thunderbird Lodge. John is also known for many others that became iconic symbols of style and performance.

Hacker’s influence extended beyond boats.

In 1911, he installed twin floats on the Wright Brothers’ biplane, making it capable of water takeoffs and landings. This innovation marked the first use of twin floats on an aircraft. In the same year, Hacker introduced the Kitty Hawk, a groundbreaking step hydroplane that reached speeds exceeding 50 mph (80 km/h), setting new records.

John L Hacker - Hackercraft
Hacker Craft

The Hacker Boat Company thrived in Detroit, attracting prestigious clients like J.W. Packard and Henry Ford. Hacker’s partnership with Gregory’s Belle Isle Boat & Engine Company led to the popularity of his runabout designs. The company expanded, establishing a satellite facility in Mount Clemens, Michigan, in 1921. Eventually, the entire boat-building operation moved to Mount Clemens, solidifying the company’s presence in the area.

Despite relocating its operations to New York State in the 1970s, the Hacker Boat Co. continues to craft meticulously hand-built boats, carrying on the legacy of John L. Hacker. His vision and contributions have left an indelible mark on the marine industry, shaping the aesthetic and performance standards of wooden motor boats.