It starts with standing at the water’s edge for hours as a boy, scanning the horizon beyond. You tinker with tiny seaworthy experiments made from balsa wood and paper. And you imagine yourself winding away from the shore, the wind in your hair, all childhood troubles left behind. Never mind the mosquitoes, the scorching summer sun and your mother’s insistence to come in for dinner.
You carry these experiences into adulthood, where you dream of sleek, powerful boats that cut through the water like a diamond through glass. And that dream becomes a reality that grows with each passing decade.
Larson becomes Minnesota’s first Johnson dealer in 1922. And to handle growing demand, the company soon constructs a new boat factory. In his spare time, Paul Larson becomes an avid boat racer. Larson company archives feature news clippings from the glamorous new pastime of “full-tilt powerboat racing” on lakes and rivers throughout the Upper Midwest. The result: Paul wins enough contests to garner not only trophies, but also growing acclaim for his business.
As more people purchase lakeshore property in the mid-’30s, Larson accommodates increased demand with new lines of wooden boats. With windshields, running lights and “fancy upholstering,” these boats prove so popular that by the end of the decade, the plant has to double its space, and Larson’s distribution network grows too big for Little Falls. The stage is set for a life-changing development that comes with a new boat primed and ready to take the world by storm.
In 1940, Paul Larson patents an idea for a boat that would capture the American heart: the Falls Flyer. This “new, original and ornamental design for boats” is a sleek, stylish, modern, wooden wonder with an airplane-like body and cockpit. Most notable is its abbreviated transom, surrounded by a rear deck that slopes to the waterline—still the industry standard for high-performance recreational outboards. Rendered in wood (and later aluminum), the boat has that intangible quality that piques a boat-lover’s passion. Today, collectors reminisce about buying an early original, seeing one for the first time, or even saving one from a snow bank.
Stronger, lighter and more watertight than wood, the space-age material known as “fiberglass” can be molded into any shape a boat designer desires. This opens up new worlds for boating—and a whole new universe for Larson. With the patented fiberglass Rand Gun, the company emerges as a hot brand on the national scene. In the 1950s, Larson introduces numerous flamboyant designs, including the Cruisemaster, the Pla-Boy, and the Thunderhawk—a two-toned streak with a swooping sheerline and trademark tailfins. Larson also launches the fiberglass All American line, the world’s largest-selling runabout model.
“The future of the boat industry looks very bright as more lakes are opened, better accessible highways are completed and more families discover the pleasure of the outdoors,” announces the Little Falls Daily Transcript in 1967. The recreation boom allows Larson to expand its All American line and introduce several new hulls—including the lapline hull with its cushiony “Million-Bubble Ride,” the deep V lapline, and the tri-hull. By 1969, Larson is the world’s largest fiberglass runabout manufacturer. The company also manufactures skis, hockey sticks, snowmobiles, travel trailers, even pool tables and other home entertainment equipment.
While the country flirts with bell-bottoms, leisure suits and shirt collars with albatross-like wingspans, Larson thrills boat buyers with unique styles. Runabouts flash onto the scene with metallic finishes. The new Cruiser Home features a beautifully styled hardtop and “posh interior appointments.” A 1972 day cruiser lists an 8-track stereo tape cartridge player as optional equipment. And the Volero 217 boasts “the response of a runabout with the comfort of a cruiser.” Following forays into other recreational markets, Larson doubles down on its historic strengths of boat design and manufacturing and makes a run toward the trailerable cruiser market by the end of the decade.
A new decade brings innovations such as the Delta Conic hull with a deep-V forward section for sharp entry into rough waters, and an aft area with two large, delta-shaped sections for fast planing performance and greater stability. While continuing to produce the All American, Larson also introduces more trailerable cruisers, sportabouts and an expanded line of runabouts—including the high-style Senza V-hull series. The company reaches another milestone with its first wide-body, non-trailerable cruiser: the luxurious 30' Contempra. And Larson’s track record of success catches the eye of Minnesota investor Irwin Jacobs, who purchases the company and brings it under his Genmar Industries umbrella.
In a suddenly booming economy, Americans in the ‘90s want it all—luxury, speed and versatility. A new ad slogan sums up Larson’s reputation: “A Little Bit of Legend. A Whole Lot of Fun.” And the brand delivers, introducing new models and styling changes every year to reflect consumers’ confidence: Large Cabrio cruisers, new Escapade daycruisers for entertaining, and SEi outboard boats for serious performance runabouts. Maintaining the tradition of founder Paul Larson, the company refines every surface, hides every staple, and makes sure every fastener is stainless steel.
With a century of firsts in its wake, Larson continued its ongoing pursuit of innovation in the year 2000 with a revolutionary new composite boat manufacturing process called VEC® Composite Technology. This technology produces incredibly precise hulls using a closed-molded composite lamination process to create a one-piece hull with an integrated composite stringer system that is stronger, lighter and more robust so you experience a fast, dry and quiet ride. The result is a boat that’s more durable, better performing, better looking, better able to hold its value, and better for the environment.
Explore this year’s new Larson models (LSR, SS, All American), and see what a difference a century of experience can make. Every detail is crafted to perfection, and the performance offers exactly what a Larson boat always has: styling, speed, ease, comfort and value. With today’s Larson, a ride around the lake has never felt smoother or more exhilarating.
So welcome aboard the American dream—21st-century style.