Long Live the King! Sea King Midget 1946 Outboard Boat Motor

The French inventor and electrical engineer Gustave Trouvé designed the first known outboard motor in 1870, a small, roughly 10-pound electrical unit that he patented a decade later. That slow-on-the-draw approach doesn’t reflect his invention’s later popularity.

The outboard motor experienced its first real high-water mark during the 1920s, with the introduction of Johnson, Evinrude, and dozens of other manufacturers that entered the early but crowded field. For the first 50 years of its history, many outboard motors were purchased from mail-order catalogs, retail chains, and even gas stations.

The Sea King outboard motor was one of the most popular brands in the boating enthusiasm that followed World War II. The Sea King brand was sold by retailer and catalog store Montgomery Ward & Company, and manufactured by Gale Products, Inc., a subsidiary of OMC (the maker of Johnson and Evinrude outboards). Originally, Gale made refrigeration products under its own brand and for private labels including Mayflower and Speed Queen. Although sales were steady, revenues were flat, so in 1946, Gale began producing Sea King outboard motors for Montgomery Ward. Gale was so successful that, in 1947, it sold over 262,000 motors, more than all other outboard manufacturers, including Mercury, Johnson, and Evinrude, combined.

Gales engines were considered discount models, because they were often sold in sporting goods and hardware stores, while OMC’s “flagship” brands (Johnson, Evinrude) were sold exclusively through boat dealerships. In a questionable move (which led to the company’s eventual demise), OMC ordered Gale to discontinue manufacturing outboard motors in 1964, to reduce the competition for its big name brands. Chrysler made Sea King motors from 1964 until 1984.

Historically, a majority of outboard motors were two-stroke power heads fitted with a carburetor—a result of the design’s overall simplicity, reliability, low cost, and lighter weight.

Skilled artisans, who took pride in their work and focused their efforts on engineering quality machines, built these outboard motors. Restored to perfection, this vintage 1946 Sea King Midget Boat Motor is both a conversation piece and a working piece of the past that you’ll be proud to own.

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