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TOPIC: Tahiti History

Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129154

Tahiti Boats:

Tahiti Boats was started in the very early 1960s in Bellfower, CA at 8832 Ramona Street; just south of the 91 Freeway off of Lakewood Blvd. Competitive Trailers has occupied a part of the old Tahiti plant for well over 20 years.

Dick Schuster was the founder/owner. Probably the most successful Southern California boat builder in the mid-60s thru the 70s. Schuster was a master at production and developing new models quicker than anyone else in the business.

Tahiti really took off in the mid-1960’s when Berkley’s sales rep, Dick Clark, set a new jet boat drag record at 79+ mph with a Hayden Proffit built 427 Chevy. Jet boat sales for Tahiti during the rest of the 1960s were massive.

Eventually, Schuster sold the business to Bell Industries and stayed on for awhile as the GM. A major fire at the plant destroyed almost everything, including a lot of the molds and the company never really recovered from the loss.

At the very end, Hardin Marine in Anaheim bought what was left of the company and built boats under the Tahiti-Caribbean banner for a few years. As far as boat builders go -- Schuster is a legend.

When I graduated Paramount HS in 1965 a lot of my pals went to work there. Tahiti was probably one of, if not the, biggest manufacturer of entry level boats back in the day. I still see a lot of these old Tahiti’s on Lake Havasu & down on the Parker strip. And some of them still look as good today as when they came out of the mold.

There was a long thread on this Tahiti subject over on Banderlog forum a while back. Old Rigger and his dad worked for Schuster and then followed as Schuster used the Tiki and Hawaiian names.

It appears there was some "funny" business going on in the later years and that "someone" went to jail for a while…

From OldRigger:

Dick Schuster, who was a laminator at PowerCat, when they made the switch to glass boats, started Tahiti in 1964 in Long Beach first (after a short venture in Australia building boats). Then he moved into the old Bellflower Marine shop that had been owned by Bob Massey who was killed testing a Switzer wing on Lake Elisinore. That shop was a Lakewood Blvd address across the street from Mr. Weiman's boat shop.

Schuster would later build the hulls for Weiman Boats as Mr. Weiman had no glass shop. Mr. Weiman's son Roger, who grew up with my mom, would split from his dad; race the first Tahiti jet boat and then start his own shop in Los Alamitos. Then move to his shop on Rose street next to his dads old shop.

Finally Schuster moved into the building around the corner on Ramona. Eventually there were 3 big buildings that took up a city block and they're still there. Before Competitive trailers was there, A&M trailers used one of the buildings to build trailers, and there's many an old Tahiti still sitting on one of them.

My dad went to work for Dick Schuster in 1966 and all the early employees were, or seemed to be, Paramount High School grads and their younger brothers, my dad and I included.

Dick Clark set the fantastic record in his Tahiti 'Harry Canary' in 1967 using the first Berkeley droop.

The fire was before the shop was sold to Bell Inc. It did not happen in the glass dept and no molds were lost, just inventory items like engines, pumps, gauges and so on. After the repairs from the fire, Schuster sold to Bell for a million bucks and stayed on as President.

About 1971 or 72 the move was made to the shop on Crusader in the city of Cerritos. Tahiti was in full swing now, never bigger, and few shops were building as many boats or employed more people. Many people still remember being able to see the shop from the almost new 605 freeway and the boats stacked up on large racks that we built during the winter months.

Schuster and an employee from Bell Inc., Jerry Groom, started Hawaiian (Tiki boats at first) sometime in 1974. I went to work there full time the day after I graduated high school in '74 and we were back into one of the old Tahiti buildings on Ramona. Then we were in the building that later became Hardin Marine when they built Tahiti's, and then we made the move to Huntington Beach and had the two big buildings on Container lane.

Hawaiian went tits up in 1980 but Schuster continued to build a boat here and there using the Hawaiian name and using a few of the guys from the old days. He also bought Sun Ray boats and his sons ran that shop.

I went to work for Roger Weiman in 1980 and stayed with him for 5 years. My dad went to Hallett for a extremely short time then got out of the boat deal altogether. I later went to Galaxie for a cup of coffee then to Advantage, to Warlock, to Howard, back to Advantage, back to Roger, did some free lance stuff and a few things on my own.I packed it in n the mid '90s.

I started out making wire looms for my dad when I was 10 or 11 in about '67 as the riggers back then had to make their own. If I wanted to stay up late on Friday night to watch TV, I had to make looms too. I had a little jig that dad made me that looked like the back of a dash and he'd give me a list of looms to fill. This many jet looms, I/O looms, and so on. Then at 12 I started working at the Tahiti shop on Romona after school cutting wood, block sanding plugs and molds, stuff like that until I was out of high school.

Schuster did not go to prison, Jerry Groom did.

I really enjoy seeing the pictures posted here of the old Tahiti's still on the water. Takes me back :)
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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129167

I've had a few Tahiti boats, and really enjoyed them.
One was titled as a Bayliner Tahiti, but back in the day when the state realized they were really missing out on their cut, and begin requiring titles & fees on boats, a person could trump up most any brand name when applying for a title to a boat they already owned.
I had one that had the 'TIKI' logo and Tahiti in chrome script on the hull.
I can't find any pictures of it, but will post if/when I do.
doc
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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129190

WHEW!!!
I found the picture.
The Tahiti with the cloud white 800FGS is the one I had with the TIKI medallion.
doc
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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129218

Brocluno - wonderful summary about the history of these boats, I enjoyed it very much, thank you!!

Doc - love the photos! My favorite boat of all time, I especially like the versions with the thick, wrap-around seats. Would love to see more photos.

When I was about 5-6 years old (back in the early '70's), one of my earliest memories was seeing a green metal flake boat with a tall black outboard, speeding around at my grandparents lake place (Spanaway). All I remember is that it was green and sparkly, and had two "swooshes" on the side and that it was the coolest looking thing I'd ever seen :lol: . It made an enormous impression on me.

It wasn't until years and years later that I learned just what make the boat was. In my mind, one of the quintessential hot boats! The Inline 6's just look so "right" on them. That early memory DEFINED for me what a speed boat is.

Pete

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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129221

peter1708 wrote:

Brocluno - wonderful summary about the history of these boats, I enjoyed it very much, thank you!!

Doc - love the photos! My favorite boat of all time, I especially like the versions with the thick, wrap-around seats. Would love to see more photos.

When I was about 5-6 years old (back in the early '70's), one of my earliest memories was seeing a green metal flake boat with a tall black outboard, speeding around at my grandparents lake place (Spanaway). All I remember is that it was green and sparkly, and had two "swooshes" on the side and that it was the coolest looking thing I'd ever seen :lol: . It made an enormous impression on me.

It wasn't until years and years later that I learned just what make the boat was. In my mind, one of the quintessential hot boats! The Inline 6's just look so "right" on them. That early memory DEFINED for me what a speed boat is.

Pete


Here ya go Peter...The history of one Schuster Tahiti boat....Had a IL6 planned for it but ended up with a 150 V 6 instead.

www.fiberglassics.com/glassic-forums/home/the-70-s-disco-fiber/1971-schustr-tahiti-torino

Karsten

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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129248

Thanks Karsten,

Love your boat! The 150 looks really good on her and I'll bet the acceleration is phenomenal! Would really enjoy seeing some video of her running all out! ;)

Pete

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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129278

My dad had a '77 Witchcraft w/ Merc 1150 while I was growing up. When people see my '71 Kona, many only see an old boat, but I see the classic lines of the 70's boats. With the IL6 on the back, to me, just means good times at the lake.

Will

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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129280

Willdiver wrote:

My dad had a '77 Witchcraft w/ Merc 1150 while I was growing up. When people see my '71 Kona, many only see an old boat, but I see the classic lines of the 70's boats. With the IL6 on the back, to me, just means good times at the lake.

Will


Here ya go Willdiver......Love these tunes on the water.



Karsten

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Re:Tahiti History 1 year 10 months ago #129337

The soundtrack then was mostly The Beach Boys. To this day, hearing "I Get Around" makes me think of the smell of 2 stroke, and the slap of water on the hull.
Memories like that are what prompted me back to the boating world. I want to let my kids experience life at the lake. No cell phone or tablet, tuna sammich for lunch, and the excitement of the first hole shot of the day.

Will

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