Champion Boat History

Discussion in 'Champion Boat Owners Showcase' started by remington, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. remington
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    remington Champion Boat Officer Staff Member

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    Ok per a mods request I will try and recall what history I can remember from Champion. Some is first hand knowledge and others is hear say. I was very lucky and literally grew up with Champion. My father, grandfather (mothers father), 3 uncles and mother worked for Champion at one time or another until around 1985 (when my father was fired and we moved).

    Champion Boats was founded by John Storie in 1975. It was located in Mnt. Home Arkansas. He began making tri-hull boats in a small shop just outside of Mnt Home on Hwy 5 North. Around 1977 he wanted a bigger/faster/better boat in a v-hull style so he sent my grandfather (a salesman) to a Skeeter dealer in Texas and had him buy a plain old gel coat Skeeter Wrangler. They brought it back, ripped it apart, splashed it adding some of this and that and Storie had himself a V-hull. Aparently it was changed so much that while it was related to Skeeter you could hardly tell in terms of performance and ride. Storie wanted a rig that was fast, smooth ride and a DRY ride hense the Champion arrow and flaring of the upper hull (this kept you from getting sprayed) This was the begining of the 86 inch beam Super V's most notably the 16'8. The 16'8 took off like wildfire and that rig sold very well for years. I was told that they wedged the rear of the hull to save weight but soon realized what it did in terms of performance and kept it. Think the 16'8 as the flagship for Champion. The 16'8's were 150 rated and just ran like hell fire. I was told this was around the time when Mercury went from inline 150s to V6 150's. This was back when 65 mph was just screaming. My father had a early 1977 16'8 that was orange, Gramps had one that ws banana yellow and balck, Storie's was black and I think Bill Pace had a blue one. It was a real sight for a little fella to see all those boats banked at the Champion BBQs at Cranfield.

    Champion grew and moved to the old building off of 210, where it stayed until it was moved to Tenn.

    The next boat made was the 20'01 which was the first 20ft bass boat on the market. While and excellent boat it really didnt take off until the 200 and 225 came out to reach its full performance potnetial.

    Next was the 18'4 (175 rated) which sold very well when BASS put the 150 hp limit on tournys. Arguably the best perfoming hull Champion ever designed.

    Then the 17'6 (150 rated). Great beginners rig. It was my first boat and still miss it sometimes. Would love to have it back with a 200 on it.

    Around 1980 Storie wanted a smaller boat so they built the Mean 15. It was a 15 ft Super V. I belive rated for 115. Storie had a black one with a 150 on it. It had to have screamed. I remember having a ride or two in it.

    A little later the 14ft Super V came out. Rated for a 75 (if I recall what pops told me). I asked my father why the hell Storie would wanna build a 14 fter. His reply "Because he's a moron." I thought that was funny. I've only seen one of these used over the years and it just looked dinky. Pops said a dealer in Texas had one with a in line 150 on it! Wow!

    Round that same time the tunnel hull came out (see Konna pics). It was 18ft and rated for a 175. Not many were made and I've been told anywhere from 5-20 left the plant. I'm excited to see how Konna's Champion Tunnel hull does once its done. It's the only one I've seen since I left Mnt Home in 1985.

    The 16'8 Swift ski boat came out round 80-81 ish. Still a few of them around. just a 16'8 with a solid top cap and rear bucket seating.

    The Champion Python which was just a Super V without a top cap. Pops said it had the bare minimum. Rod locker, live well, no carpet.

    In 1981 Champion burned (see previous post). Storie was ruined. He had no insurance and couldnt pay his debt. He needed a start up stash and no banks in the area would give him any. My father who was general manager at the time took Storie to see my grandfather (Dads father) who lived several states away and a busniess owner himself. Storie asked my grandfather for a loan. My grandfather met with his lawyers and was advised NOT to give Storie the loan as it was to risky and investment. But for the love of my father gramps instead loaned the money to my father who intern loaned the money to Storie for his debt. Storie got back on his feet again with this loan and got Champion back on track. I was told once he got back on his feet Storie promptly paid the loan back. In the mean time he had only a few workers. He wasnt able to pay my father for about a month with the promise that he would give Pops, Bill Pace (salesman) and Bruce Benton (mold maker) a % of Champion stock which all three did. Champion got back into building boats and Storie got back on his feet thanks to my grandfather. Without that loan Champion may never have been.

    I'm not sure what year but belive aound 82 Storie sold Champion to Bill Pace and Matt Grabinski. This didnt last long and Champion went Bankrupt for the first time. Storie got Champion back and went on punching out 86 inch beam Champions.

    Around 1984 Storie tried producing a Off Shore sea rig. It was a disaster from the get go. It started as an I/O then an twin outboard and just went down hill from there. I belive only 2 were made. Why he did this just baffles me as Mnt. Home is about 16 hours from the nearest ocean.

    In 1985 dad was fired from Champion and we moved shortly there after.

    Champion was sold to Dave Porthouse in the 90's.

    The following history is what I have read and researched and have no first had knowledge other than former Champion employees. I cannot and will not take credit for repeating this. A vast majority is taken from former Champion saleman Pat Goff who is a long time member of BBC. He has been there and done that with Champion and knows his in's and outs.

    Pats Own Words Copied from BBC:



    First Champ was a pad boat, tri hull, whatever you want to call it.
    In '76 Storie splashed a Hydrostream and built the 168. That boat, along with Pat Duncan and Bill Pace built Champion.
    Believe it or not, the next boat was in fact the 201. First 20' bass boat built by anyone.
    Then the 184
    Then 176
    Rocked along there for a while with the same 86" boats, all was well. Then the market started creeping towards wider boats.
    1990 Introduced the 190 19' rated for 200
    1992 or so came out with 180 rated 175, 204 V6 rating, both disasters.
    1994 was the 191, 186, late in model year 202. All terrific running boats.
    1997 or so the 221 22' bass boat. The 187 Also introduced the "bass n bay" 187 & 202.
    1998 the 203 came.
    1999/2000 The 206, 198, 223.
    My history ends with Arkansas.
    Other interesting boats..
    The "swift" a 16'8" Ski Boat
    The 201 Mini Miami Vice Ski boat, that was one very very hot boat. Looked like a miniature Cigarrette boat.
    I've left out the "mean" 15, fish n skis and bay boats.
    All the 201's were "V6" Rated, except the few "V8" Rated boats. 201,202,203,204,221 was all "V6" rated. Some of the crew drifted to some other boat companies. I know that Loren Smith is now plant manager for Tracker, he brought Lance Williams with him.
    I'd like to find out where Dave Schlick turned up. He was the most talented boat designer I've ever seen. 202, 187, 221 were all his boats.
    John sold champion to Dave Porthouse, and among other things, Dave had him sign a non compete contract which was quite clever. He knew he couldn't prevent Storie from building boats, that was his livelihood, so he prevented him from building only "deep V wedge" designed boats. Which is of course what the Champ hull is.
    John simply splashed a 482 ranger, added a turning chine, and a little more setback, and there was his boat.
    Porthouse bought champion from Storie in the early 90's, and had John continue to run the company for several years.
    John wanted nothing to do with building anything besides the tried and proven 86" beamed boats. Bill Pace is the one who designed and built the first wide champ, the 190. John left to contemplate his navel for a few years, and managment was taken over by little dave. The later boats, 186, 202,191 were designed by Dave Schlicke, all very fine hulls.
    Storie hooked back up with Bruce Benton, and they are the ones who designed the Cobra/viper/etc etc. Again, this was a hull that wouldn't interfere with his non compete contract.
    To say they didn't want to build new boats is just wrong, they built lots of new hulls. But they were all based on the proven hull dynamics that put champ where they were.
    I was with Champ from '84 to the demise in '01 I only know of Stories actions based on friends in Mt. Home who kept track of such things.
    The "legend" of Stories boat designing skills are for the most part seriously overrated, for every minute he spent tweaking a boat, Bill Pace spent an hour.
    Legend/Hawk/Cobra/Viper, they all run together.
    Here's the scoop, and anything else you hear is just B.S.
    John Storie was wanting to start another boat company, but he was locked down in a very strict non compete contract with Champion. He could build a boat, but couldn't build a deep V Wedge hull boat.
    So, what he did was splash a Ranger 482, added a turning chine, and increased the lifting strakes, and he had him a boat mold. That was the beginning of the Cobra/Viper boats, and they did the Fisher glass boats there also, same hull.
    Storie got runnoft from Cobra, they went flaming down, and he and Bruce Benton started the Hawk boat, same basic mold, same basic boat. '01 came and they didn't have the legs to stay in the race, so that died. The molds were bought and brought to Texas where they started building the legends, then bought again and moved to Midway Ark.
    Just so it's clear...again...
    John Storie hasn't had a hand in designing a champ since the 80's. Anything coming out of champion today is designed by Alan Stinson.
    Legend/hawk/viper/cobras are all a splash off a ranger 482. Modified, but still in the same gene pool.
    It's more honest and accurate to state the legend/clones are modified rangers than some breed of champ.
    Now, here's the real scoop, the only Champion Storie ever designed was the original 16'8" back in the seventies. The rest of the boats were all designed by Bill Pace, Pat Duncan, and Dave Schlick. John Storie is living in Oklahoma City right now, and has nothing to do with the boat business.

    In 2001 Champion Boats goes bankrupt for the Second time.

    <Factual Edit> Genmar Holdings Inc. purchased the assets of Champion Boats Inc. and moved them (equipment used in the manufacturing of bass and bay boats) from Mountain Home, Ark., to become part of Genmar's bass boat group in Murfreesboro, TN in March 2002. Genmar bought Champion's assets at auction for $2 million.The trade names Champion and Back Country Boats were included in the acquisition.

    Tenn. Champion took over introing the 210, 206, 200 and brought back the 203 bass rigs. I havnt kept up with the off shore or bay boats at all. If anyone has info please feel free to share.

    <Factual Edit> June 1, 2009 - Genmar Holdings, Inc. (Genmar) announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

    Champion Boats goes bankrupt for the third time.

    <Factual Edit> Genmar ceases to exist 1/20/2010. Jan. 20 is marked as the closing date for the Genmar bankruptcy sale. Genmar Holdings, Inc. is officially dissolved.

    Champion boats along with Ranger, Stratos and others is bought by Platinum Equity.

    We'll see what happens next. To be continued...........
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2012
  2. ChampioNman
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    ChampioNman BBM BRP/OMC OFFICER

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    I only hope the sale to Platinum Equity isn't the death knell for a fine boat company. Perhaps they know what they are doing and will keep them going at the plant they need to be at along side Stratos. We will see in a few months.
  3. remington
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    remington Champion Boat Officer Staff Member

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    bumpy.........
  4. bobbyb
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    bobbyb New Member

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    Wow, what History Remington, Thanks for sharing.

    As a newbie (new to Bass fishing) I have been scouting for a decent used boat for a few months now, and to be honest, I absolutely love the design of the Champion pre 1995. I'm looking at buying used between the years 1990 (model 190) and the end of the 1994 model year - (model 186).

    :confused:Have a question for you, or perhaps another Champ owner - Were these models total composite? How has these Hull's stood up re:spider cracks/transom weakness?

    It's really difficult for someone new contemplating purchase of a used Bass Boat, when Hull history i.e. wood stringers/wood in Transom as opposed to all composite - is basically unavailable to the average consumer. You really have to know your stuff when lookin I believe. Your Champ history opens an intriging look in the molding of eventually a fine boat - I should admit my 1st ride was on a Champ - smooth as :DJackDaniel.....lol

    bobby
  5. remington
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    remington Champion Boat Officer Staff Member

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    From my understanding no Mtn Home Champions were made of composite until they moved them to TN (Genmar owned). A wood (fir) and glass laminate were used for the transome and stringer systems until the late 90s when the wood was changed to balsa and glass. Dont let a wood boat scare you away. There are a metric ton of older boats out there with wood in them (all makes). A properly sealed and maintained wood transome will last a lifetime. Water intrusion on ANY transome can cause weakness over time if not properly maintained.

    Stress cracks: Happen in all models. There are numerous factors that can attribute to them. I have a '96 202 that I run on Lake of the Ozarks (arguably one of the roughest in the country) and from time to time I'll develop a new stress crack from rough crusier wakes made by off shore ocean boats that belong on the ocean and not LOZ. Ive seen others that dont have so much as a crack. I read that when Porthouse took over he wanted to give Champions a finish of a lifetime and they double clear coated them. By doing this is caused the gel coat to become thick around the corners and tight spots. This intern caused to become hard and prone to stress cracks. It was best put to me like this "Stress cracks are like zits on your prom date, you dont want em to be there but they're really not hurting anything."

    Best of luck in your search. Post pics when you buy one and welcome to BBM.
  6. JESTERxHEAD
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    JESTERxHEAD New Member

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    hahahahah zits on a prom date....I like that one!!!!
  7. bobbyb
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    bobbyb New Member

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    Quote:hahahahah zits on a prom date....I like that one!!!!
    Hey Jester, now that I think of it, so did I:party0045:.....lol

    Thanks for the info Remington. Searching is not easy - I'm sure we all know that - I'm not really afraid of wood - I guess looking for 1 owner boats - well maintained with maint records - and visually cared for by the owner - along with tapping the Transom, checking motor mounts etc etc will def. aid any decision - but, but...........well you know what I'm thinkin'.
    Thanks, Tight lines, and yes I will pic the purchase

    bobby
  8. Darth VMAX
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    Darth VMAX Allison Boats Officer Staff Member Admiral (3 Star)

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    Great Read!

    I saved a picture from a local Craigslist ad from a few months ago. There was one of those 14' Champs with a 75hp Evinrude for sale. It was TINY but cool at the same time. They guy only wanted like $1500.00 for it.

    I was going to post the pic if I can ever find where I stored it LOL
  9. Darth VMAX
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    Darth VMAX Allison Boats Officer Staff Member Admiral (3 Star)

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    14 Champ.jpg

    Here it is
  10. remington
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    remington Champion Boat Officer Staff Member

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  11. remington
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    remington Champion Boat Officer Staff Member

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    If thats the one out of Joplin than he's been trying to sell it for over a year now. Bet it could be had for grand.
  12. Bruce Brown
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    Bruce Brown Member

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    Great post Remington!! Very interesting history regarding the Champion. I've got a 1996 17' 1" with a 115 Mercury. I noticed in your post (unless I missed it) nothing was mentioned about the 1996. Any history that you know of, I would enjoy reading. :cheers:
  13. remington
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    remington Champion Boat Officer Staff Member

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    I dont know much about the 17'1 and 16'1 other than they came out in the mid 90's and replaced the 86 inch beam 17'6 & 16'8. I belive its a 90 inch beam but could be mistaken. Its rated for a 140 max HP. Could be a real hot rod with a souped up 140. Would be intrestig to see what she could do with a 140 HydroTec Yammy or an old souped up Johnson. I looked real hard at one with as 175 Merc (no test drive) before I ended up getting my 202. I find it highly underated much like the old 17'6's. Hows yours do with the 115?
  14. PBC
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    PBC New Member

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    Remington if your still on this thread I'd like to ask you a few questions. My fishing partner has what we believe is a 1987 201. There seems to be a problem with the VIN # according to the insurance company he wants to get a policy with. The VIN (on the boat) does not match the model # on the or year on the title. Like I said he belives its a 1987 201. Being the Champion Company has changed hands so many times is there somewhere the archives of VIN numbers is kept and who could I contact. Thanks for a great history of Champion.
  15. BigBass
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    BigBass Staff Member Fleet Admiral

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    The last 2 digits of the vin should tell you the year of the boat!!

    It should!!
  16. Basshawk
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    Basshawk Iowa Fishing Report Officer

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    Very interesting read. Thanks for putting it up.
  17. JESTERxHEAD
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    JESTERxHEAD New Member

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  18. PBC
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    PBC New Member

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    Great help. Is there an Champion archives for the older models? Again thanks for the info.
  19. remington
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    remington Champion Boat Officer Staff Member

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    Sorry other than what the boys told you there is no way of matching the VIN with the old Mt Home Champion. (In Missouri) He can apply for a lost or stolen title with DOR. They will provide paperwork and a police officer will have to stop by and confirm the VIN is the same, then a new title will be issued.

    Best of luck.
  20. ams31060
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    ams31060 New Member

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    I am looking into purchasing a 1982 champion I was told it is 18foot it has a 1984 200 horse mercury on it i am not sure what the model number is for the boat If anyone would know what it could be i would like to know so i could read up on it a little more or if anyone has any input as to any problems with thatmotor or if there good quality anything I would appreciate it. thanks

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