After nearly 3 decades absorbed in American Muscle cars, I discovered V8’s that were being used in jet boats so my interest was kindled in the early 2000’s. I had several abortive hull projects and also bought several jet units to increase my knowledge and understanding. Some of these projects are stories in themselves. I knew I had to wait and look for something special and be prepared to pay some hard earned dollars. An advert appeared in Gumtree (much like Trade Me) in November 2013. ‘Hamilton J73 located at Swan Hill in Victoria’. Although the price was a premium I made contact with the seller. I could not juggle getting time off to see the boat with my work commitments, so after doing a little investigation into the model of the boat made the purchase sight unseen! Yes, I know, don’t ever do that!
The owner had kept a meticulous history on the boat. Arrangements were made with a local transport company to freight the boat to Sydney. I know getting it out of the barn where it had sat gathering dust and the by-product of many birds since 2008, was a big task for the seller but it did finally arrive in Sydney early in 2014.
I was aware the original 454 Chev had been removed and installed in a sprint boat and transplanted with a 302 Ford.
I think when buying boats of this vintage you have to be prepared for all events. I am reasonably sure the jet unit is not original but it does have standard impellers. The 753 was in reasonable condition with original gated steering but the Cleveland was seized. The upholstery was complete however vinyl was hardened due to age and I decided that needed updating. The finish was extensively oxidised, but overall this boat was awesome and I really like the layout of the cockpit.
It seems to have an amazing history and the seller had identified the original owner was from Adelaide. He’d travelled to New Zealand to select and buy two J73 boats, one blue and one red. He had them sent to Adelaide South Australia where he and well-known jet boat enthusiast Kim Doble unpacked them and put them into service. The red one was apparently sold to someone in Sydney.
At some stage further on the blue boat changed hands and it ended up being stored from 1994 to 2008 in the back garage of a house in Swan Hill. Somehow I stumbled on the advertisement and my interest in jet boating was kindled. It certainly was a barn find, but with plenty of hard work (and money) the end result is very rewarding and I’m told I’m doing my bit to keep the history of these iconic classic Hamilton jet boats alive.