Crestliner is a brand of all-welded aluminum boats most popular with freshwater fishermen and in the United States Midwest.
As one of the largest brands of aluminum boats, just how good is Crestliner Boats?
Here’s how good Crestliner Boats are:
Crestliner Boats is a rugged brand of aluminum boat, on par with Lund. For over seven decades, they have been a favorite of freshwater and saltwater fishermen. While the Brunswick Corporation has purchased them, they are still one of the leading brands of aluminum boats.
A Brief History Of Crestliner Boats
The company’s website is a bit nebulous on the company’s history. Please note that this section was compiled from a half-dozen different sources.
What is clear is that the company started in 1946 as The Aluminum Boat Company and was founded by William Morse, Sr. With the Second World War over, there was an abundance of aluminum, and people who were skilled in manufacturing with it.
Morse owned an old airport hanger in Little Falls, Minnesota, and he began the company there. They had immediate success with the concept of the aluminum fishing boat and generated $135,000 in sales their first year.
The company was very successful, particularly after they went to an all-welded method of construction in 1964. They made fiberglass boats for a while in the 1960s and again in the mid-1980s.
The company’s construction methods continued to evolve, and by 1985 they were using a tongue-and-groove method on their seams.
In the mid-1970s, the company was acquired by AMF. It was sold to a group of ex-Crestliner employees in 1981, who formed Nordic Boat Company/Crestliner. In 1988, Genmar Holding Company purchased Nordic/Crestliner.
In 1992, Crestliner began manufacturing pontoon boats in their old fiberglass boat facility, which immediately became a central part of their business.
In the summer of 2004, Crestliner was bought by the Brunswick Boat Company, which also owned the main competitor Lund. In 2010, Crestliner production was moved from Little Falls, Minnesota, to New York Mills, MN.
Though now built under the same roof, Lund remains riveted, and Crestliner remains welded.
Crestliner continues to innovate today, such as with the Sure Mount Gunnel System and the AP-X hull design.
How Reliable Are Crestliner Boats?
Crestliner Boats are seen as being an excellent overall value by most owners.
While many feel that Lund is the top aluminum boat manufacturer, and Crestliner Boats’ prices are pretty close to Lund’s, many owners and commenters say Crestliner is the better value.
There are many high points to Crestliners that owners will point out online. Among these are welded seams instead of riveted, no wood in the transoms (anymore), stable ride with the wide beam, a quiet ride, and the hulls are faster than most of their competitors.
Many owners point out something else is the rubberized coating on the interior of the boats instead of carpeting. It is easy on the feet and will not rot away.
Storage is another positive brought up with regularity. Most of the models have ample storage lockers for fishing and other equipment.
How Durable Are Crestliner Boats?
All of Crestliner’s boats have welded seams rather than riveted.
There is an age-old debate regarding which construction method is better, and there are some pros and cons to both positions.
Some claim that riveted seams are more prone to leaking, but repairs are easier in riveted seams; you have to drill out and replace the rivet. Repairing a cracked weld is far more intensive, and most owners cannot do it themselves.
Most Crestliner owners cite the welded seams as a positive, though, and believe it contributes toward the durability of the boat.
While most owners use their Crestliners for freshwater fishing, there are many testimonials about how they hold up to saltwater, as well. The Bay boat line is seen as being more ideal in this application.
While all aluminum boats can take a bit of a beating, owners of Crestliner’s are proud to talk about what they put their boats through. Many threads can be found online with Crestliner owners trading stories of how they “abuse” their boats.
What About Older Crestliner Boats?
Crestliner has always had a reputation for making a strong and attractive boat.
Their older boats are seen by many online as being superior to their newer models.
For instance, in a comment from an owner in 2014:
“I presently have a 1987 Crestliner Viking V170 Tiller that I bought new from Minnesota Marine back in the day… The Crestliners at that time were finished off so nicely that I couldn’t tell you how many people asked me if my boat was fiberglass… It has been a very reliable boat and served me well.”
The same owner went on to say about Crestliner’s current situation:
“They use to be innovative but I just don’t think they are the same after being bought by Brunswick… Crestliner lost its identity when they were purchased by Brunswick and moved their plant to the Lund factory in New York Mills. Kinda like Lund’s illegitimate cousin.”
[Source: Walleye Central]
Many other owners on that thread, and other threads on different forums, expressed a similar opinion on newer Crestliners.
Whatever people feel about the current Crestliners, though, it is clear that most owners and commenters view older Crestliners very favorably.
Do They Still Make Parts For Older Models?
Crestliner still makes some parts for older models, but it is unclear how far back that stretches.
They instruct owners who are looking for older parts to contact their local dealer. Many dealers have been with Crestliner for decades.
Some have accumulated some obscure parts, so another might if your dealer does not have your particular out-of-production part.
There are also many online retailers selling replacement parts for Crestliners, like greatlakesskipper.com and boatseabass.com. There are also some specialty replacement sites for Crestliner, such as for canvas or windshields.
What Are Typical Problems With Crestliner Boats?
Any company that has been around as long as Crestliner Boats is bound to have had a few problems.
The good thing is that Crestliner has seemed to respond to every issue as it has arisen and improved their boats.
One problem that owners have reported is cracked welds. While far from common, it has occasionally been reported in the past, particularly around the transom area in older boats. If you are looking at purchasing a used model, be sure to check all of the seams.
Older models had some problems with transom rot. Originally, there was wood used in the transoms, which could lead to this issue.
All modern models have eliminated wood in the transoms.
Rotting of the wooden floorboards has also been an issue in the past. Though Crestliner uses pressure-treated marine-grade plywood, sometimes screw holes are not treated properly, either at the factory or by the owner in modifying their boats.
This can let water into the wood and begin the rotting process.
For a more in-depth examination of common problems with Crestliner Boats, check out our article: Common Problems With Crestliner Boats (With Examples)
How Long Do Crestliner Boats Last Compared To Similar Brands?
Being aluminum, Crestliner Boats can last for a very long time.
Their construction is such that they will last for decades Many models from the 1980s or 1970s can still be seen on the water. Most particularly, models are seen in the Midwest of the United States.
The only problem that seems to affect the longevity of a Crestliner Boat is that the welds on some models can crack. This is true of all-welded boats, though, and while it can be repaired, doing so is very difficult and beyond the abilities of most owners.
All that being said, it is pretty clear from decades of evidence that Crestliner Boats last as long or longer than any other aluminum boat brand on the market.
Do Crestliner Boats Hold Their Value?
Crestliner Boats hold their value very well compared to their competition.
There is an argument that cheaper boats do not have far to depreciate from, but Crestliners are not as cheap as some of their competition, and their larger boats seem to hold their value better than their smaller boats.
The 16-foot 1600 Vision boat costs $17,417 new in 2015. Currently, that model has an average resale value of $14,190. That is a depreciation of 19%.
Checking out their larger boats, a 2200 Bay cost $35,976 in 2015 when it was new. That same model currently has an average resale value of $32,070, for a very favorable depreciation of only 11%.
Are Crestliner Boats Still Being Made?
Crestliner boats are now being made under the same roof as Lund Boats in New York Mills, MN. They divide all of their models into 6 basic lines.
The Sport & Fish line is divided into Sportfish, with models ranging from 19 to 23 feet, and Superhawk, with a similar hull but is designed to go faster, and these models range from 18 to 20 feet. The smallest Sportfish starts at $47,195, and the smallest Superhawk begins at $40,183.
The multi-species line is the largest of Crestliner’s lines and is intended to be as versatile as possible for catching many different kinds of fish. It is divided further into 10 more lines.
The smallest of these is the 1450 Discovery, starting at $12,446, and the largest is the 2250 Authority which starts at $68,831.
The Coastal line is a Bay boat design intended to operate along coastal regions.
There are 3 models, with the 1800 Bay starting at $28,985 and the largest being the 2200 bay starting at $43,227.
Hunt & Utility Line:
The Hunt & Utility line has the greatest models, covering a wide range of focuses built around the Jon boat.
The most basic Jon boats start at 10 feet, while the largest of this line is 20 feet.
Pricing for the basic design is not given online, but other models in this line start at around $10,000 to $26,000, depending on length.
Bass & Crappie Line:
The Bass & Crappie line features some of Crestliner’s largest models designed for larger fish.
The models here start at 16 feet and $13,614, and the largest being the MX 21 at 21.5 feet and starting at $45,203.
The pontoon boats are divided into 3 lines, the Rally, Rally DX, and the Sprint.
These models are not showcased on their website; prospective buyers are encouraged to contact their closest dealer.