Tribute to a Legend
Peter Frederick Henkel was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1929, to Robert Charles Peter Henkel and Beatrice Elizabeth Russell Henkel of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. He graduated from Grosse Pointe High School and the General Motors Institute with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Peter worked in the automotive industry for two decades, before launching his own marine enterprise. Now known as Peter Henkel, Inc., the family company grew from his acquisition 1959 of his first classic boat, the Climax, a 26 foot 1930 Chris Craft runabout.
In order to get parts for the boat's vintage motor, he actually acquired the defunct Scripps Marine Engine Company in 1963. This "hobby" became a calling when he bought Saint Clair Flats Marina in 1972. Since then the company has become a source of rare parts and antique engine restoration for customers throughout the world.
Peter Henkel is best known for his work and wisdom in antique and classic boating circles. He was an active member of the Antique & Classic Boat Society, both the Sunniland and Michigan chapters, and could be found at most regional boat shows with his runabout the Climax or another fine old Chris-Craft from his stable. He appears on the cover of the book The Legend of Chris Craft, by Jeffrey and Karine Rodengen, and is regarded as a legend by many.
"Peter was a pioneer in the antique boating renaissance," says classic boat owner Bud Aikens of Algonac, Michigan. "Before it was trendy, Peter was collecting and restoring these old beauties. He helped so many people enjoy their old boats. He's an icon in the industry."
Peter Frederick Henkel of Harsens Island, Michigan, and Boca Raton, Florida, died August 13, 2001. He was 72 years old.
Mr. Henkel has restored and shown many fine vintage mahogany boats and helped others to restore their craft by providing parts, service, and countless amounts of advice to hundreds of classic boat aficionados.
Robert Peter Henkel, Peter's son, continues the family business to this day. With this, he holds the same values his father had as he strives to provide the ultimate in customer service and satisfaction.