Boat of the Week: How a Rusted-Out ’50s Feadship Was Salvaged and Transformed Into a Modern Classic

05 February 2021 - By Julia Zaltzman, Robb Report

Left corroding in a marina, the vessel's new owner decided he didn't want to restore the 138-foot superyacht, but recreate her with modern systems.

Courtesy Guillaume Plisson

Once the largest motoryacht built in the Netherlands, the 138-foot Istros is a story of passion, neglect and ultimately, as her name means in Greek, inspiration. Delivered in 1954 to the Pappadakis family, who owned a global shipping concern, Istros was the height of ’50s fashion, with white telephones and “violet-blue-tinted bathrooms,” not to mention radar, which was then a rarity, even for a superyacht.

The yacht was later acquired by a British seasoned sailor, owner of classic sailboat Hispania, who gave Istros’s interior a complete overhaul as part of a multi-million-dollar refit. This led to the grand prize for the best restored vessel at the Monaco Yacht Club Prada Classic Yacht Show in 2001.

But when her current owner and his captain of 10 years, Tristan Le Brun, discovered her in the Maltese port of Valetta in July 2015, Istros was little more than a corroding hulk of steel.

Istros‘s current owner found her rusting in a marina. The 1954 hull was rehabbed, but the interior and engines are from 2020. - Courtesy Guillaume Plisson

“She had been lying in the water for years and the rot had really set in,” Le Brun told Robb Report. “My employer and I had been looking for a classic boat to restore for quite some time. It needed to be a yacht built at a reputable yard like Feadship. When we saw Istros we knew she was the right one.”

Having owned three yachts before Istros, the owner’s aim was clear: Preserve the exterior and rebuild the rest.

“It takes intense modifications to convert a boat designed and built in the 1950s into a 2020s-caliber motoryacht, but it was never our intention to make Istros historically authentic,” says Le Brun. “We wanted the elegant exterior lines and emotions of a classic motoryacht without any of the compromises that come with a vintage vessel.”

This simple, modern Scandinavian look by Van Geest Design is a stark contrast to the original glitzy, 1950s interior that included chic white telephones and violet-blue bathrooms. - Courtesy Guillaume Plisson

In other words, old engines, outdated electronics and other systems, not to mention high levels of noise, vibrations and emissions. That pursuit for comfort and efficiency meant complex revisions were made to the new Istros.

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