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The Outboard Motor – A Work of Art

Updated on May 30, 2018

Can an outboard motor be considered a work of art? They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the same can be said for art. I am not suggesting that every outboard motor is a work of art but I have a few examples that I feel meet the definition of art. Art is something produced with the quality of beauty, is appealing, and is more than ordinary.

My thought of ‘The Outboard Motor – A Work of Art’ came to me while I was reviewing the pictures saved on my PC. Initially all I could think about was the need to get these backed-up in the ‘cloud’ to safeguard against any loss if my PC died. Then I opened a folder with pictures I had taken during a visit to the Tallahassee Automobile and Collectibles Museum. I was struck by the appeal, the beauty, and the extraordinary designs of the antique outboard motors on display.

Yes, I do feel these outboard motors are works of art.

A work of art?
A work of art?

As you can see I'm not talking about modern outboard motors but those from the 1920s through the 1950s. Not so much that these years are the only ones to produce ‘works of art’ but the examples I have fall within these years. Some of the first gasoline outboard motors were built and sold around 1906. Ole Evinrude is usually thought of as the most successful manufacturer of early outboard motors. In the 1920s the outboard motor took off with many successful manufactures including Evinrude, Johnson, Lockwood and ELTO.

I hope you can appreciate and enjoy the few ‘works of art’ I have here. Please share your thoughts on these works of art and let me know if I have anything identified incorrectly. You can also help out if you know the make and year of the final outboard motor pictured, I did not fully capture the information and I am not sure of the make and model.

I feel the Tallahassee Automobile and Collectibles Museum is not so much a museum but a collector’s paradise. If you collect anything, just for the pure joy of collecting, you can understand why DeVoe Moore has assembled such an eclectic assortment of items. You get the sense of his joy of collecting as you walk the isles of his museum.

I would like to thank DeVoe Moore for this love of collecting and his willingness to share his love with the public. There are over 20 categories of collectables at the Tallahassee Automobile and Collectibles Museum. Almost everyone can find their idea of a ‘work of art’ to admire and enjoy.

Tallahassee Automobile and Collectibles Museum

6800 Mahan Drive

Tallahassee, FL 32308


The Evinrude Company is still in business today and manufactures a full line of outboard marine motors. This is the successor of the original company founded by Ole Evinrude.

I really like the name of their early outboard motor, the Evinrude detachable rowboat motor. A perfect description of the function and intended use but not a name that would see currently. I am sure today’s marketing departments would be up-in-arms over such a limiting phrase to describe a product.

Detachable Rowboat Motor
Detachable Rowboat Motor

Evinrude also produced an installed rowboat motor, I am sure it was to complement their detachable outboard motor. It was designed to install in the bottom of a boat, with the motor attached to a plate inside the boat and the gear box installed underneath.

Installed Rowboat Motor
Installed Rowboat Motor

I believe this is an Evinrude Elto. It seems Ole Evinrude eventually left the early Evinrude Company and started the ELTO Company but a re-use of the Elto name would cause some confusion. Any information would be appreciated.

Evinrude Elto
Evinrude Elto


The Hiawatha was built by the Gale Products Division of OMC in the early 1950s and discontinued in the early 1960s.

The Hiawatha Outboard
The Hiawatha Outboard

Indian Silver Arrow

The Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company also built outboard motors. The original company went bankrupt in 1953 but has been reborn in a modern company. According to their website “The Legend is Back,” but they do not produce outboard motors, only motorcycles. The original company dropped the ‘R’ in motorcycle but the new company has added it back in.

This Indian Silver Arrow is an outboard motor from around 1930. This motor has the highly desired name plate instead of a decal with the manufacturer’s name.

Indian Silver Arrow
Indian Silver Arrow


The Johnson Brothers Motor Company began producing outboard motors about 1905. The modern Johnson Outboards company was acquired around 1935 by another company and outboards under the Johnson brand have not been sold since 2007.

This Johnson was possibly produced during the Second World War as part of a defense contract.

Johnson Seahorse
Johnson Seahorse


The Lockwood-Ash company produced their first outboard in 1914. This Lockwood is a single cylinder rowboat motor that was produced in in the early 1920s.

Lockwood Chief
Lockwood Chief


Mercury Marine could be considered a late comer to the production of works of art in outboard motors. The company was founded in 1939 and is still producing a full line of boat motors.

While the Mercury Mark 20 and Mark 30 may not have ‘work of art’ look I still feel there is an artistic appeal in the design that you do not see in today’s modern outboards. Maybe a little bit of an art deco quality.

Mercury Mark 20 and Mark 30
Mercury Mark 20 and Mark 30

Last Thoughts

Today there are many manufacturers of outboard motors; Evinrude, Honda Marine Group, Mercury Marine, Nissan Marine, Suzuki Marine, and Yamaha Marine, just to name a few. I am sure there may be many folks who would consider some of the outboard motors manufactured by these companies as works of art. There may be many of these modern outboard motors with design awards for function or appeal, but not art awards.

I do not think the same artistic appeal is there with modern outboard motors where the design emphasis is placed on aerodynamics and function.

I am happy that Art is truly in the eye of the beholder and I can view these old outboard motors as works of art.

The 1936 Something

Here is a 1936 "something" and until my next trip to the Tallahassee Automobile and Collectibles Museum I will need your help to identify the manufacturer, make and model. Please post your comments if you have any ideas about this outboard motor.

Are they really works of art?

As I said earlier, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the same can be said for art. Not everyone will agree but if you have a good counterpoint, please leave a comment.

Do you know the make and model of this motor?
Do you know the make and model of this motor?

© 2014 Howard Powell


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    • profile image

      Dale L. 

      3 years ago

      It is a Waterwitch sold by Sears made by Kissel.

    • WillisP profile imageAUTHOR

      Howard Powell 

      4 years ago from Tallahassee Florida

      Hi Ali, Sorry but I think you may have commented on the wrong Hub!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thanks for the tip Smithhike. This year I found my boat often leaning left at mdieum speeds. This was not so much pull at the steering wheel as a general leaning left of the hull, so maybe it was a weight distribution issue. Still, I'll add torque equalizers to my list of things to look into this off-season. You didn't mention adjustment to your outboard's built in torque trim tab. Did you play with that prior to installing torque equalizers?


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