How old are Jupe, Pete, and Bob?

This question often crops up in the minds of readers because the boys seem involved sometimes in adult situations and are trusted by their parents to act responsibly yet they're obviously not adults.

I believe a good case can be made for the boys being between the ages of 15-17. I base this primarily on the descriptions given in the early books regarding the boys' interactions with Skinny Norris. Specifically, Robert Arthur says that Skinny wants to be a leader of the kids his own age (Skinny's frequent attempts to discredit Jupe, Pete, and Bob indicate that Skinny is either their age or possibly a year older). Secondly, Skinny has a driver's license and is allowed to drive only because he is a legal resident of another state, implying that he is not quite old enough to obtain a license to drive in California. Skinny also drives at night in "Terror Castle" when he follows them on their initial visit to the castle; so he has a full license from another state (i.e., unrestricted).

Not being a resident of California, I am not qualified to speak with authority on California's driving license requirements (particularly the requirements in the 1960s). However, I would suspect that because Skinny could drive a vehicle at night in another state he would be at least 16 and maybe 17, based on current day driving requirements in many states. If the Three Investigators are the same age as Skinny (as I suspect Robert Arthur meant to imply), then they would be about the same age or could be as young as 15 if they are a year or so younger than Skinny. Despite the drawings by Bill Dodge on the recently released paperbacks from Random House, I would not place them as being any younger than 15.

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