1980s Savage Escort Runabout project boat
The 5.2m Savage Escort you see here was purchased in a private sale for $2500. It had been garaged for most of its life but despite that was still a bit rough around the edges — “neglected rather than beat up”, says its owner, Andrew Finocchiaro.
But that didn’t deter him one bit. “It was a great Australian hull,” he says. “Although I didn’t have a limitless budget on this resto, I thought that with a lot of hard work she’d turn out to be a pretty nice boat.”
But first things first. Andrew sought advice from experts before stripping this classy little classic in preparation for extensive refurbishment. “Getting good advice is important in a project like this,” he says. “I’d advise anyone launching themselves at a large restoration job to do all their homework first because it’ll save heaps of time later on.”
Andrew has been around boats since the age of 16 so he had a few ideas about what he wanted his boat to be, and what he would be using it for — namely, going after bread and butter species in Port Phillip Bay. Andrew describes himself as “dedicated” and that attitude enabled him to concentrate on the gear that mattered, not on bells and whistles.
When you scan the specs on this boat you’ll see that despite the sensible budget, all the important gear is there. What’s more, the structural components have been beefed up too, and the old classic is now powered by a modern, fuel-injected two-stroke.
And so a boat that “looked like it might have some potential” has been given a new life, though not without a lot of blood, sweat and beers. The Savage Escort Runabout deserves its reputation as one of the finest boats Savage ever made. It’ll be nice to see this one out of the garage and on the water again.
The Savage was in remarkably good condition for a boat of 30 years. It was a bit run down but there was nothing seriously amiss with its structural components, although they had to be reinforced during restoration. The transom was in top shape and the boat looked strong.
The trailer was in good nick but still copped what looks like a set of new rollers. Total cost of trailer refurbishment: 300 bucks.
In all its glory. Check out this list of additions: new 40mm gunwale rubber; new stainless bowrail; new tinted, powder-coated windscreen frame (modified so you can reach the anchor without bending over); high grade marine carpet; 70lt underfloor fuel tank (and a 25lt “emergency tank”); new fuel lines; 12-rod snapper rack; new bimini; six-rod rocket launcher; LED deck floodlight and nav lights; new grabrails; and a transom step and ski hooks.
Engine Evinrude E-TEC 90 two-stroke outboard motor
Owner Andrew Finocchiaro
Favourite fishing spot Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne
Target species All the usual suspects
1980s Savage Escort Runabout project boat cost
Purchase price (pre-rebuild) $2500
New motor $8000
Battery and electronics $2200
Stainless work $1000
Trailer work $300
Seats and trim $1000
Fibreglass, timber and resin $300
TOTAL COST $18,400 approx.
6 project boat restoration tips
1. Spend time researching which boat to restore.
2. Restore with a mind to future use.
3. Look around. Many classic hulls are still available.
4. Talk to people who know more than you.
5. Buy the important things, not baubles and bangles.
6. Take your time. It’s not worth rushing.
Originally published in TrailerBoat #269, June 2011. Why not subscribe today?