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While the Globe won a prize, it did not, unfortunately, gather many customers. But it did bring enough publicity for Stevens to be called by Chris-Craft to produce a set of sample designs for a projected bridge-deck cruiser (right). Beyond that, however, the principles of auto styling had to wait nearly a decade for public demand to catch up.
"The Globe was embryonic and premature," Stevens admits today. "It was the weak voice in the wilderness of convention. But we were convinced it was going to come.
"You see, there was far greater resistance among the educated conventionalists in boating than in cars. In 1946, the boating public was still the connoisseur, the one that rang bells and hoisted sails and liked the smell of hemp. But then the real postwar market developed. The public found it had more leisure time. And the outboard people developed remote controls. Now, there was the most significant development of the decade. As soon as you rigged up an outboard with a pushbutton starter, remote throttle and clutch, you created a whole new market. Most important, you got the housewife, who certainly didn't go out in the old days when you had to yank on a rope to start the motor. But as soon as she could push a button and touch a lever, it was she who went for a boat ride and not just the old man.
"We created a whole new concept for the word yachtsman. It meant the lathe operator, the garage attendant; it meant family boating for the weekend. Suddenly we were way beyond, thousands beyond the concepts of the connoisseur in the blue coat and white pants. And this new yachtsman would look for water transportation with the same eye that he looked for automotive transportation. Why? Because he had the swept-back thing in his garage. He couldn't help but be swayed by what Detroit was doing to him."
With the public finally warmed up to auto styling, Stevens scored his first big success in the yachting world. It happened in 1954 when William Scott, Executive Vice-president of Outboard Marine, proposed to Stevens that he take their top horsepower outboard motor and dress it up with custom trim, much in the manner that Cadillac had dressed up their top model car to get the Eldorado.
"Again we were taking our lead from the automakers," Stevens explained. "We figured that the new American yachtsman, the 21-foot buyer, the twin-engine buyer, was involving himself in a $2,100 outfit; and why not have it the best-looking thing that pulled up to the yacht club? So we embarked on the Evinrude Lark and the Johnson Javelin."
These were the names Outboard Marine gave to its two outboard Eldora-dos. They were announced in September of 1955 and were an immediate success. The first year they were out, three quarters of the sales in the top horsepower group were in these luxury motors.
"This meant," said Stevens, "that our American buyer, who was keeping up with the Joneses, wanted that luxury motor out of pure pride of ownership. It's a real ego builder. It doesn't drive the boat any faster, but it pleases him. And I say thank God for him, especially when you multiply him by 100,000. Why, if everybody was dead practical, there wouldn't be any lights on. We'd all be asleep in bed."
Brooks Stevens and Outboard Marine were definitely not asleep in bed. With the Lark and Javelin solidly launched, they began to cast around for something that would catch the eye of the public at the 1956 New York Boat Show. They needed something new; they needed something to make people talk. A dream engine was suggested, but Stevens knocked down the idea on two counts. First, if it was too radical, they would be laughed at in their own field. Second, if it was too good it might render obsolete their going line. Then Stevens brought up the idea of a new type of boat.
"I told Mr. Scott," he said, "that we should take the bull by the horns and prophesy for our related industry. I said, 'Let's build, for the first time, a dream boat, with styling integrated with the Lark.' "