Ever See a Wood Deck Hondo XH511T Runner Bottom? You Have Now!
Among the most elite names in flatbottom history is Hondo, a line of record setting hulls designed and built by Irv and Peggy Ann Brendel back in the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s. And of all their many models, quite possibly the most famous and successful was the XH511T 18-foot runner bottom flatty, a drag boat hull that even to this day has not really been improved upon.
Although the original Hondo factory located in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California exited the manufacturing scene more than two decades ago, the mold for the XH511 is thankfully still very much in evidence. “About ten years ago, we acquired the XH511 mold,” says Pete Giroux, owner of Giroux Boats in Camarillo, CA, a full service boat restoration, hardware fabrication/rigging and custom trailer manufacturing operation. “Many people have tried, but no one has been able to improve on the Hondo runner bottom design after all these years. It’s still state-of-art hull technology for quarter-mile drag boat racers. I’m just glad to be able to offer this great hull using newer and better construction materials like stronger composites with vinyl ester resins. It’s combining the best of both, proven technology with the latest in laminates. It’s exactly what the Hondo factory would be building today if they were still around.”
At the August 2010 Long Beach Marine Stadium Spring Nationals, Pete put one of his most exotic old school/new school flattys on display to dazzle admiring race fans. It was a recently built XH511T but with a different twist. “One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Hondo XH511T was its T-deck design which was copied by a lot of other boat manufacturers after they saw it,” commented Pete. “What you don’t ever see, however, is an all-wood T-deck. I’ve been thinking about building one for quite a while and finally decided to do. It really turned out to be an attention grabber.”
Pete collaborated with Clayton John from the Bass Lake area on the initial construction of the wood deck. Pete layed-up the XH511 hull in his Camarillo shop and then transported the hull minus deck up north to John. “The craftsmanship necessary to accomplish this is pretty incredible,” remarked Pete. “Just a normal wood-deck build takes talent and experience, but incorporating the T-deck cutaway is a far more complicated project because of the precise compound angles involved. As you can see, the dash was made from multiple layers of laminated wood and was cut-out in one piece on a big band saw. It’s not something you’d want to try in your average home garage.”
Because Pete intends to offer this boat for sale, he chose to stick with a very traditional pearl white hull with some subtle accent hand striping by Larry Gloege who striped many a boat for Hondo back in their heyday. “At first I thought I might run a few drag races with it just for fun,” said Pete, “but my wife didn’t think that was such a good idea. Instead I guess I’ll just take it to some show and shine events and hope that someone sees it and wants to make it theirs.”
When Pete decides to hit the show circuit with the Hondo, the Crower fuel injected 460 c.i. Chevy engine will most likely come out and a more ‘period correct’ 409 Chevy will slip between the stringers in its place. “I built the 460 Chevy to run on alcohol. That’s why I put 32 percent over gears in the Casale V-Drive because it was going to have plenty of horsepower to pull it. When I go back to the 409, I’ll have to change the set-up. I’ll also probably remove the two-tier spun aluminum drag style gas tank and slip in a couple of more traditional saddle tanks along each gunnel.”
If you look closely, the workmanship and installation technique is flawless, something Pete and his crew at Giroux excel at. It’s evident that many of the hardware pieces are custom fabricated at Pete’s shop like the strut, thru-hull fins, motor mounts, and much of the cavitation plate assembly. “We like doing as much of the build in-house as we can,” says Pete. “We buy some parts from outside vendors but we’re pretty picky about the quality of what we use. When you’re a custom shop like we are, a lot of off-the-shelf stuff just doesn’t cut it.”
It goes without saying that Pete’s latest XH511T is an extraordinary example of what his company is capable of. Tackling an all-wood T-deck pushes the envelope into brand new flatbottom territory and it’s a guaranteed show-stopper.
And in case you’re wondering, the Hondo XH511T isn’t the only classic model Giroux has tucked away. He also has four Cole molds (the 18 Firestar jet, the TR2 Runner Bottom flatty, the 20′ mini sport cruiser (w/delta pad), and the picklefork hydro) plus the Dever picklefork hydro. If you’re looking for cool fiberglass carb scoops (like the original ‘Panic Mouse’) or fiberglass molded bucket seat frames. Giroux is also your place. Although boats are his passion, Pete just can’t get away from the custom trailer business that he’s been doing for nearly forty years. Those trailer services include building custom road, dolly and enclosed trailers plus complete restoration and refurbishing of older trailers. If any of this sounds like something you might need, you can contact Pete and his crew at Giroux Boats, (818) 203-8695 or email at email@example.com.