On many rivers and lakes, the Willie Boats logo is a familiar icon representing quality and great taste. Next time you see a Willie drift boat, be sure to look closely. If you’re lucky, you may get to see a one-of-a-kind legendary boat that tells a story about Willie’s beginnings. On the side of its hull is printed a logo that looks almost like “Willie Boats,” but if you look closely, it actually says, “Willie Built.”
This boat is the Dream Drifter ’72, built by Willie Illingworth himself before Willie Boats became a company. This 16×48 aluminum drift boat was the sixtieth boat Willie built after he started Alumaweld. It was originally made for Yale Sax, but was recently bought by Yale’s friend and Willie Boats president, Jim Bittle.
Jim refurbished the vintage craft with minor updates for comfort and usability, while maintaining the original personality and form. This boat is an irreplaceable memory of Willie’s stubborn perseverance that led to legendary excellence in aluminum boats. For example, halfway down the hull, a splice-mark is visible, reminiscent of Willie’s limitations in 1972, when he was unable to buy a piece of aluminum long enough to span the entire boat.
The Dream Drifter is more than just another quality hull; it is a memory of the struggle and triumph that made Willie Boats, what it is today.