1926 Antique Johnson Outboard Motor Display American Folk Art


Year: 1926 Name:Waterbug Model: A 25 Serial Number: 43057 H.P. 2.0
Dimensions: 36“ H x 11 1/2“ W x 14 1/4“ D Weight: 36 pounds

Presented is a stunning display using an actual resurrected 1926 outboard motor that had its external parts taken apart, cleaned, polished and re-chromed where required, and then had new decals added. Hundreds of hours have been lavished on making this a true work of American manufacturing art. This 2 H.P. Johnson outboard motor was made for the freshwater environment.


JOHNSON HISTORY IN BRIEF: In the early 1900's, four brothers from Terre Haute, Indiana--Lou, Harry, Julius and Clarence Johnson--started making motors when they built a tiny marine engine for their rowboat in order to ride up the Wabash River to shop. They soon founded Johnson Bros. Motor Company and began mass-producing inboard and outboard engines.

Within the next two decades, the Johnson company prospered. The brothers were responsible for the United States' first monoplane flight due to making a 2-cycle airplane engine--a device they even tried on bikes. In 1921, Lou Johnson teamed up with a college student to design and produce the Johnson model A. As a result, 7,000 of these motors were sold in 1923. Johnson was a leader in the industry and is noted for introducing:

Light weight
Tilt-up engine mount
The rope pull starter
Swivel shaft
Small size magneto ignition

In 1926, Johnson was the first to introduce the heavy outboard engine, which defied expectations of what such a device could do for airplanes. By this time, they were also selling quick motors. By the close of the 1920s, the Johnson brothers had built an elaborate outboard manufacturing facility close to Lake Michigan.

However, the Johnson company was not without its misfortunes. At first, it withstood them: A 1913 storm destroyed the monoplane and the shop it was built in. Then the 2-cycle engines saw success limited by the popularity of Henry Ford's Model T cars. That did not stop the Johnson business from growing during the 1920s. Then, the stock market crash of 1929 pummeled the economy at the same time the famous Sea-Horse brand was introduced. Inventories of boats and motors were stockpiled. By 1932, Johnson had declared bankruptcy.

Outboard Marine Corporation: When Steve Briggs and Ralph Evinrude purchased the Johnson company in 1935, the business was in dire straits. A deal to provide Sears-Roebuck with engines failed to materialize. By then the company had even entered the refrigerator compression business. With the purchase, though, Johnson found some respite. A year later, the Outboard Marine and Manufacturing Corporation (OMC) was formed, which put Johnson alongside Evinrude as a boat motor maker.

Bombardier Recreational Products: In 2001, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP)--a company that still specializes in motorized recreational vehicles and powersports engines--bought OMC. Thus the Johnson company is currently under the Bombardier umbrella.