Power Cat Boat Corp. of Bellflower, California originally started building
wooden boats as a small division of "Paramount Wood Products" a specialty
company started by Ray Leger for the production of wood sash and doors to
serve the exploding housing market in post WWII Southern California.
Ray and many of his fellow employees were friends during W.W.II working for
a boat yard in San Pedro that made PT and PBY boats for the military. This
gave many of them the key skills of carpentry and boat construction that
soon would be put to use.
The idea for the one of the earliest "Powered Catamaran" was due in part to the fact that Ray's wife Evelyn enjoyed offshore fishing but was very prone to seasickness. The catamaran's being more stable in the water made them rock less and this was the supposed reason for the first powered catamaran made by Ray Leger. This idea and many other influences were brought together in the original design. It needed to be reliable and roomy enough yet still be capable of being transported on a trailer rather than require a berth for storage. The twin outboards were expensive yet would give the security of having 2 motors in case one failed. The very first PowerCat was an 18 ft cabin cruiser that ran twin Scott Atwater 33 hp outboards. The boat was a resounding success and it started a whole revolution!
The early company focused its efforts on the production of plywood Catamarans Sometime beginning in the early 1950's. All PowerCat boats built through 1972 were the inspirations and brainchild of master boat builder and designer Ray Leger. His designs ran the full gamete from Catamarans, Tri-hull's, Hydro's and Bass boats.
We should note that all the earlier plywood Catamarans featured the application of fabulous tail fins but evidently with the transition to fiberglass construction, (beginning in 1958) the fins were significantly reduced in size, and then phased out all together in the early to mid 60's. PowerCat Boat Corp. regularly produced hulls from 12 ft. to 28 ft. although some custom 30's and 40's footers were also built. The switch to fiberglass in started in 1958 and by 1962 all production models were only made in fiberglass.
Mercury Marine had a unique relationship with PowerCat. PowerCat furnished Mercury with boats for test beds for their use at Lake X and many factory sponsored race teams ran Mercury motors. In return Mercury furnished PowerCat with the latest in motors for use in their factory racing efforts. Part of the arrangement was that the motors and boats were returned to their respective factories after they were no longer usable for evaluation for ware and component failures. This relationship helped both PowerCat and Mercury to refine their product lines.
A lot of non-factory sponsored teams also ran PowerCat's, but it was Mercury's exploits with PowerCats that evidently lead to an advertising bonanza! By winning most of the key open water and endurance races in the late 50's and early 60's PowerCat won the reputation as true airborne Hot Rod of boats.
In an effort to shorten shipping time and better support its ever-expanding market, the company centralized its operations and manufacturing facilities to Victoria, Texas in 1962. This allowed the company to shipping boats to dealers and customers all over the country from one central location. Closing the Bellflower, California plant was a logical choice, but many of the people who had worked for the company in California decided not to make the move to Texas. One was Ray Leger's half brother Bobby Brown had been instrumental in the development of the new three point hydro design, which was proving to be an excellent drag/ski boat. Ray made an agreement to give a set of the molds to Bobby and he formed his own company called "CeeBee Mfg. Co." and producing the Hydro under the name Avenger Boat Co. PowerCat then would not market that product on the west Coast, and Avenger went on to develop many designs of its own!
PowerCat from its new home base in Texas was at the highest level of production the company had seen. The mid 60's saw the primary product shifting to the development of Tri-hulls. The new Tri-hull was an adaptation from the original catamaran designs that facilitated the better use of a single engine. Due to the rising costs of fuel and greatly improved engine reliability, catamarans were becoming harder to sell. By the late 60's Catamarans had been phased out of production.
In 1966 Fire completely destroyed the Victoria, Texas plant. The company was quickly restructured, and emerged from the ashes with new investors and was now known as the " Powercat of Texas Corp.". Soon thereafter the company's main product line was a popular line of Bass boats and Tri-hulls. Ray Leger sold his interest in the company in 1972.
Classic PowerCat boats can still be seen today running around on local lakes and Open waters ways being pushed by a wide verity of outboards old and new!
External Links: Resources for Power Cat Boat Owner's