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Sutcliffe Boats

RACER 1 - 1932 to 1949

The simple RACER 1 continued to be produced and when Sutcliffe adopted the later italic decal style, RACER 1 fell in line. Fig 10.4 shows the last verison of RACER 1 before the final and most familiar RACER 1 was introduced. Note also the larger deck vent, a feature which cropped up on many boats in the mid/late 30's.

Racer 1 was the first! Initially the design of the boat mirrorred the larger more complex speedboats with a removable hatch to reveal the motor and a motor stop lever 'brake', but this would all change over time as Sutcliffe continued to innovate and reduce the costs of its boats.

Fig 10.1 - 9" RACER 1 - circa 1932

Fig 10.1 shows the first type of RACER 1.  The blue hatch slides off to reveal the motor, though this was not neccessary to wind the boat up. The motor 'well' was sealed from the rest of the boat making RACER 1 unsinkable, unlike some of the earlier boats (e.g. hot air battleships) that would go down like a stone if any wash tipped them over. This model is very rare and sought after.


Before long, Sutcliffe decided to simplify RACER 1, presumably to reduce production costs. So in 1933/34 Sutcliffe 'bit the bullet'' and sealed the motor inside the hull. This meant, of course, that if a motor developed a fault or was damaged (typically by being overwound), then it could not be replaced or repaired without splitting the hull, effectively destroying the boat.  Sutcliffe offered a repair service but when such a sealed boat was sent to the factory, the 'repair' simply consisted of sending back a new boat! This cannot have been great for the balance sheet, but Sutcliffe maintained this service for a further 50 years....

Fig 10.2 - RACER 1 - circa 1933. Note motor brake.

The sealed RACER 1 was a much simpler boat with just a couple of small flat vents on the foredeck, but at least initially, it retained its motor brake. All examples seen to date have been blue. Fig 10.3 shows a slightly later example - now without motor brake. This is pretty much as simple as it could get!


Fig 10.3 - RACER 1 with no motor brake - circa 1934. (Not CJB Collection)

Fig 10.4 - RACER 1 with original box - circa 1936/37.


Fig 10.7 - RACER 1 - circa 1947 (Courtesy Vectis Auctions)

Fig 10.8 - RACER 1 - circa 1947.

Fig 10.10 - RACER 1 - circa 1947 - another colour variation.


Another key change in the design of RACER 1 is illustrated by the differences in the two images below. The notched rail which controls the rudder is a soldered on piece of wire on the The Type 1 and Type 2 RACER 1's, wheras it becomes part of the hull pressing on the Type 3 RACER 1. At the same time, the rail moves forward on the boat and the 'cockpit' pressing becomes correspondingly shorter.  This important development, introdced to further reduce production costs, can also be observed on the ZIP and SNAPPY boats. It can also be seen that the windscreen sides became a little more 'elegant'!

The oval top to the RACER 1 was actually an oil can pressing; yet another exmple of Sutcliffe re-using what he had!


When toy boat production resumed after the war, RACER 1 was the only 9" boat to stay in production, SNAPPY and ZIP falling by the wayside. By 1950, the Post War RACER 1 would get a new colour scheme of red with a white deck. (Fig  10.11) and by 1953 a  rather fancy new box and the new style if foredeck decal, which would be used right up until the end of production in the early 1980's.

'Type 3' Racer 1's can be hard to accurately date but there are a few clues to go by. If the boat is red with a white deck then it is from the 50's. If it had a gold/red decal then it is from the period circa 1937 to 1949 but remember that production stopped during the war, so it's either late pre-war or early post war. If it has a box then there is another clue; if the repair service is 1/6 then it is pre-war; if the service is 3/6 then it is post war - but of course that makes the assumption that the box is original to the boat!


In circa 1937 the most common and recognisable version of RACER 1 was introduced; this now had an oval removable top which would allow the motor to be removed or repaired. Had Sutcliffe been hit by too many returns caused by faulty motors perhaps; this new design would certainly have made the repair service much cheaper. And this was yet another example of Sutcliffe re-using what they already had, the oval hatch being the top of a large oil can! Initially this model was either blue with an orange hatch, or orange with a blue hatch but versions have also been seen with a red hull, orange deck and blue hatch (Fig 10.7).

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Fig. 10.5 - Racer 1 box - circa 1937. Note the pre-war repair cost and the range of boats (etc. etc!)

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Fig 10.9 - RACER 1.   Left - rudder rail is part of pressing, small cockpit.. Right - rudder rail is soldered on, large cockpit.

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Fig 10.12  - RACER 1 - circa 1953. This model can be accurately dated by the coronation decal on the foredeck. Courtesy Vectis Auctions


Fig 10.11 - RACER 1 - circa 1950 - An early example (showing pre-war style decal) of the last colour scheme used.  Examples have also been seen with the decal on the hatch, not the foredeck. Not CJB collection.


Fig. 10.6. RACER 1. This rare colour example is either late pre-war of very early post war.