President Lyndon B. Johnson's

1965 Glastron V-204 Gulfstream

Not many folks know that LBJ loved boats. Most know he loved his Lincoln cars, but he loved his boats too. While he always kept some sort of small cruiser, Lyndon like to be out driving runabouts, and the one he kept through nearly his entire presidency was this 1965 Glastron V-204 Gulfstream with a 409 engine.

Many former presidents had boats too, but the boats seem to be more elusive and harder to track down. Most of the presidents’ cars had special modifications that made them unmistakable, but their boats were usually used for recreation and had no difference from another boat of the same year and model. Unless the boat was kept track of for its entire life, it could be sitting in a driveway or junk yard and no one would be able to tell what it was.

Such is not the case of this very special boat that belonged to President Lyndon Johnson. In fact, President Johnson’s connection with his cars and boats is much more personal than any of the other presidents in my opinion. From the presidential libraries many fascinating facts, images (both still and moving) and accounts bear this out. Lyndon Johnson was quite a personality and he really loved his Lincolns and his boats. He wasn’t driven in them as a passenger unless necessary. He loved to drive them!  Almost exclusively Lake LBJ (formerly Granite Shoals Lake) was the site where LBJ most often boated and his cruiser served as an island from which to operate his speedboats. He’d pick up and drop off passengers and then zoom by at high speed grinning like a “little kid” according to his wife, Lady Bird. In nearly every account or image LBJ was the one at the wheel, and he clearly loved every minute of it. In Ladybird's memoirs she often mentions the haunting stress and anguish LBJ suffered over the Vietnam war. But she also states that when LBJ got at the wheel of his “fast boat” he forgot all his worries and became happy again.

No fewer than 8 photographers jockey for position to get a shot of LBJ in his new Glastron on Novermber 24, 1965. Standing with his hands in his pockets is Bill Moyers. Next to LBJ, seated in the boat, is Ladybird Johnson (more visible in photo above from the same day). Two secret service agents are in tan jackets at the left and the one kneeling at the dock has his gun exposed at the bottom of his back.

Where does this story begin? Well, back before Lyndon was president, while he was Vice President, he became acquainted with an Austin, Texas area boat dealer and wonderful person named Bill Gaston. Bill also happened to be co-founder of the Glastron Boat Company, located in Austin as well. Bill is still alive and well and, as you’ll see, a key figure in the story of Lyndon and his Glastrons and the current research of these boats. “What?” you say. Glastrons, as in more than one? Yes, according to Mr. Gaston, LBJ’s people purchased a 1961 19ft. outboard model from his dealership while LBJ was vice president.

On July 16, 1961 Vice President Lyndon Johnson entertained Pakistani visitors on his 1961 Glastron Crestflite

Both of these pictures are from the LBJ library and were dated the same day, July 16, 1961. These are 2 different Glastrons?

At the same time LBJ bought a 26 foot Adventura, another boat line owned by Bill Gaston and Bob Hammond, Glastron’s founder. The LBJ library  has hundreds of photos and many film segments of LBJ in his Glastrons.  Some time later the Adventura cruiser and at least one of these Glastrons were lost in a flood on the Llano River where they were kept. (So much for tracking those down. At least their history is known).

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