Sanger V-Drive Flat Bottom – Scott Hawley Scores a Stunner
Story and photos by John Drummond
Sanger V-drive flat bottom boats aren’t lying around boat yards or marina’s anymore. A highly sought after hot rod runabout of the 60s and 70s, they are rare and when found, they’re often basket cases with cracked hulls, faded gelcoat and rotted interiors. That wasn’t the case with this phenomenal 1969 Sanger flat bottom found, reborn and loved on by Scott Hawley.
A second generation hot rodder from Northern California, Hawley likes to collect bitchin’ stuff. Hot rods, muscle cars, classics, motorcycles and now boats. Not to park them in a climate-controlled collection or a museum, but to run them and run them hard. He is a regular road runner up for long distance rallies or daily drives. He isn’t afraid to pour the coals to anything he’s driving and has passed that go-fast gene to his 14 year old son Joey. He is old fashioned in that way.
About two years ago, Hawley saw a friend’s Sanger V-Drive and got the itch. He spotted this 1969 Sanger on Craigslist and it looked OK. Turns out, it was still in the possession of the original owner’s wife. Upon going into the widow’s garage, Scott couldn’t believe how cherry it really was. The original candy orange gelcoat was still holding up but the silver panels needed some love. A deal was struck and Scott hauled it home in the winter of 2015. Thus began the restoration.
So what’s so special about Sanger boats? Well obviously they’re bitchin’ – just look at the way this boat sits in the water. It looks fast sitting still. But they have history. A lot of history with go-fast guys.
Founded by Jack Davidson, who lived in Sanger, CA in the 1950s and named his company after his hometown, Sanger is a legendary name in hot boats from decades past, especially V-drives and blown fuel flat bottoms. The history books are littered with Sanger drag boats charging full steam at places like the Oakland Estuary (just across the bay from where this photo shoot took place) to Long Beach Marine Stadium. They had names like “Crazy Horse”, “Guzzler” “Sun Killer” and so many more. Blasting down the liquid quarter mile at speeds over 200mph with the driver literally strapped in with a seat belt, they were akin to Funny Cars in terms of bad behavior and unpredictability.
As you can see here, Hawley’s ’69 Sanger is special and perhaps a bit sinister. What sets it apart is the fact that it really was a true barn find. It had sat in the same Morgan Hill garage all its life and hadn’t seen the water since 1984. That black vinyl tuck roll upholstery, which was stitched in 1969, is the handwork of the famed Lee Wells from Fresno, CA.
The hi-po 427c.i big block Chevy was all there but needed an overhaul. When Scott got it, the valve covers had the L-88 Marine insignia identifying this was a rare V8 mill. When taken apart, it was discovered the original L88 heads had been replaced with steel hi-po units. Instead of hunting a $15k set of originals, Scott kept the steel heads but freshened the valves and everything else. He secured a set of gennie Edelbrock 60s era valve covers from Robert Morris who also rebuilt the engine. And that hood scoop? It was an heirloom given to Scott by his friend Roy Brizio who had it in the rafters at Brizio Street Rods. Scott had Darryl Hollenbeck of Vintage Color Studio apply the phenomenal flake.
Additional paint work was done by Sonoma’s Aaron Rigo. An incredible artist, Rigo matched the silver flake then added Vitamin C orange flake to the big block. He then striped it in vintage cream adding the 60s vibe all over again. The trailer was also given 60s treatment with red stripe tires and baby Moons. On the water or on the trailer – this bad boat has crazy cool curb appeal.
Since finished last year, Scott has made regular runs up to Lake Sonoma and Clearlake where he and his family have enjoyed spirited sprints – the hearty Chevy V8 at full song. When not running wide open, it lopes beautifully on the cam through massive 4-inch diameter exhaust ports. Everything is polished to perfection on the Sanger V-Drive.
You won’t find a better looking boat than this one guys. Ol’ Jack Davidson is no doubt smiling from the big wake in the sky.