Issue: March 2002
Up on the Sunshine Coast, many years ago, I met a rich bloke who had an old sports Mercedes 230SL from the 1960s. He spent a small fortune on restoring it and when it was finished he was, to put it delicately, pissed off. “It’s just an old car with even older technology”, he said.
I don’t know what he expected – why would he assume restoration would make it better than it was originally ? I suppose he figured he had been ripped off by the nostalgia bug. But let’s face it, all you can expect from restoring anything is satisfaction and a lot of style.
I’ve forgotten what point I was trying to make here. Ah yes. What I was driving at was that old machinery is all very fine, but it has to work properly. Unless all you are after is style. Which brings me – better late than never – to the Lord 25, which has a lot of style, but does not ask you to suffer old technology.
Sydney builder Marshall Lord made his name with traditionally-styled displacement launches, but at the 2000 Sydney Boat Show he turned up with a pretty 1940s-style speedboat, in fibreglass, sporting a lot of teak and a centre-mounted Steyr four-cylinder turbo diesel.
This was a very likeable boat, but Marshall already had plans to improve it. He extended the foredeck and put the engine down the back, driving forward then back through a vee drive. Weight in the stern of a planing hull makes it go faster, apparently. This has been explained to me many times and I still don’t understand why.
Marshall also wanted to change the teak-framed windscreen of the earlier boat and came up with the metal-framed curved glass arrangement you see here.
The hull, designed by naval architect Peter McLean, is virtually unchanged from the original boat, but a shallow keel has been added to the centreline. The bottom is of the warped-plane style, or variable deadrise – there has to be a better term for it – which means, in practice, that the bow lifts as speed increases, while the stern stays more or less where it is.
The chines stop just forward of the screen and there are no spray strakes on the shapely nose. The original hull had the characteristic of bringing up the bow wave as she started to plane, which could be avoided by pushing straight through the sub-planing stage, but the rearward bias of the weight distribution on this new boat seems to have overcome this.
The cockpit layout is simple – a bucket seat for the driver, a short bench for the passenger and a full-width rear bench.
The front passenger seat rotates and a small table fits between the front seats and the rear bench for entertaining.
Under the foredeck is a vee berth, a vanity with sink and Lectrasan toilet, which processes all the waste to the point where it can be pumped back overboard.
It is in fact a complete sewerage system, using chlorine extracted from seawater (I didn’t know it had any) to do the job (sorry about the pun) of processing the waste. The clean water that results is pumped back overboard.
There is storage space under the bench seat. A Clarion sound system is standard.
That windscreen is a gem. It took Marshall months to find an Aussie company who could make the glass, which they mastered only after a lot of trial and error. The frame is made by hand at the factory in aluminium, which is then chromed.
Out on the water the hull lifts the bow to plane, but not too far. The ride is firm, but well damped. When I wrote about the original boat I likened the ride to that of a rally car whose suspension is initially firm, but ultimately shock-absorbent when it needs to be.
This boat is the same and I feel no need to change that opinion and can’t come up with a better one, anyway.
The hull corners flat, courtesy of the flattish hull sections aft. I’ve written about this flat-turn characteristic before; it’s comfortable and it’s safe, as at no time does the banking hull impair visibility. Another likeable feature of this sort of hull is that it is happy at any speed – without the need to climb onto the plane you can run at 8 knots, or 11 knots, or 12 knots if you want.
The steering is hydraulic and quite firm. The builder wants it lighter, but I like it the way it is – you feel involved with the machinery of the boat. It’s fun to steer and you feel the immediate response, something boats (and cars) have lost in recent years as over-assisted operation becomes universal.
The Lord 25 has few options, because everything is standard. A bimini is standard, as are the cushions, boathook, fenders, electric anchor winch, chrome-plated hatch, stern shower; there’s even a bucket and mop.
A hand-made individualistic craft like this does not come cheap – the Lord 25 will set you back $185,000, plus GST.
Potential buyers will not be deterred by the figure; this sort of class and style is hard to find at any price, particularly when coupled with modern technology.
There was nothing wrong with the four-cylinder Steyr of the earlier boat, but the 3.2lt six-cylinder is, not surprisingly, even better.
It pushes the Lord 25 to a top speed of 32 knots at 4300rpm, an easy 25 knots at 3400 revs, and a comfortable 20 knot cruise at 3000. The engine is not noisy, and in fact could be mistaken for a petrol unit. These common-rail turbo diesels are big news in Europe, where diesel is cheaper than petrol, but are most popular here in 4WDs.
The Borg Warner vee drive, which makes the stern installation possible, is not noisy either and vee drives are famous for their whine.
Story & Photos by Barry Tranter