Bell Canoe Wildfire in kevlar evaluation and worth

I saw at a local garage sale this morning a Bell Canoe Wildfire in kevlar with wood gunnels in need of some sanding and oil. It also has tons off snaps just beneath the gunnels for what I presume is a cover that was included. Cover was rolled up and not closely inspected. HIN ended in 01 I think. Gel coat is a creamy white. Hull was very free from gouges and scratches. There is a single kevlar patch near gunnel and behind seat. Is same weave as rest of boat. Bilge and rest of inside is free from any visible fuzzing. It was $600 and included 2 clunky aluminium shaft and plastic blade paddles. Plus lots of superficial grub and dirt.

I am seeking some guidance if the asking price is in line with its performance as solo canoe.

If the wood is all intact, no rot, and no delamination or soft spots in the hull I’d jump on it. Wouldn’t expect it to be around long at that price unless there are major problems. Depending on what you are used to paddling, the wildfire can feel a bit tippy at first but it is a delightful canoe to paddle. It is easy to turn and glides nicely, though it wouldn’t be my first choice for long distance going on a straight route.

The visible interior fabric weave is a black and yellow/orange/copper colors. Not sure which kevlar that is. Any insights? I am more familiar with kayaks than canoes, but gel coat is gel coat and damage is damage.

A great boat for the Edisto. Probably brought down by a retiree from up north.

If it has white or almond gel coat (almond was a common color for Bell canoes) and an aramid interior then it is probably a White Gold layup. The Black Gold layup had a carbon fiber exterior and a clear polyester gel coat. Bell often used a “tweed” aramid fabric in which alternate fibers were died a dark brown.

It is a very desirable design especially for river use. If it does not require any attention other than a good cleaning, the price asked is a good deal and it will likely sell very quickly.

I paid $1K for white gold, wood gunnels and a hole in the stem at the stern (looks like it dropped down on a rock). Worth every penny - buy it if it is still around.

My boat has a P-net history - it was originally owned by a guy named Tony Figuerido who a P-netter before I joined. He advertised it on P-net and sold it to TommyC1, who sold it to me.

It is a river boat and can be used for lake tripping if trimmed properly…It is much in demand as a FreeStyle canoe and the price is very low. Ditch the paddles buy the boat and see if you can get some Mitchell paddles as they are good paddles but Mitchell is closing shop.

You are lucky it was a garage sale. On line it would have been gone in two minutes.

The snaps scream a Cooke Cover. The best made IMO by Cooke Custom Sewing… ( still in business)

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I just came home from a second inspection of the Wildfire at now $500. No hull scratches but minor rot in about a foot in length to the outboard starboard gunnel strip about half-way from stem to stern. It is a Cook cover. Here is FB listing. They also have a Bell Black Magic for sale that I did not see and is not presently listed. Owner’s FB name is Tracey Driscoll Leach

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And the boat isn’t yours? I’m a bit disappointed.

Still sounds like a great deal on a fine solo canoe regardless of the lay-up. Some black/gold (carbon/kevlar) Bells had colored gelcoats…I had one in almond. Easiest way to tell if it’s a black/gold lay-up is to check the thwarts. If they are dark brown and match the decks it’s a black/gold boat. Other lay-ups had ash thwarts.

Whatever the layup, for $600— BUY THAT BOAT!

I knew at first glance Sat morning it was a great value, in spite of not knowing all the Bell lay-ups and the Wildfire pedigree. I also knew my purchase would have been simply to re-sell a very cleaned up boat for twice my cost. That felt really selfish and I hope a canoe paddler who will use it often and cherish it always takes it home for $500.

Nothing wrong with that. There is a small group of FreeStyle paddlers who would covet it for three times the price. The WildFire mold may have gone to Swift… I am not sure. I have a Colden WildFire that was the successor when Bell folded… the mold went to Colden. But Colden is out of business too as the sole proprietor just ran out of time because of other obligations.

I just told Castoff that’s what you were doing. He’s headed that way shortly.
Thanks for thinking about your fellow paddlers Andy.

Very much in demand. Always over $1,000 some are over $2,000.
Buy it.

Sale pending, I’m next in line. I was too slow to act because I thought Andy was buying it. It’s not like I don’t already have some good boats, but the Wildfire would have filled in an empty spot of design and function. The only possible downside to buying the boat is it would have taken me away from sailing, kayaking, and canoeing the boats I already have during that get to know each other honeymoon. You might say it would have lunar eclipsed the other boats for a while… What am I thinking that’s not a downside! :thinking: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I ended up buying this today. I lucked up big time! It’s in amazing condition. Came with spray deck, float bag and Cliff J book. 7 hours of driving and we’re finally home😴



Black gold maybe? It sounds like a great deal considering the price of canoes these days. I have a black gold Bell Magic and really like it.