My first indication this was going to be a breakout Miami show was first thing Thursday. We had a huge gathering of media and trade professionals for our 10:05 a.m. press conference.
Kevin Grodzki was first up to unveil the Mercury 150 Fourstroke outboard for its debut appearance at the world’s largest boat show. Fred Kiekhaefer followed with his unveiling of our all-new 565 sterndrive. Both engine’s were very well received. From that point on – the show was a non-stop-go.
We had two free-standing static 565 engine displays at the show – one in the Mercury booth and one in Dave’s Custom Boats (DCB) booth.
Development of the 565 [conception to production] was done in one year. A limited number of engines were built, sold and delivered to boat builders in time for the show. Cigarette Racing purchased a set of Devil Red Eye 565s for display in their new 38 Top Gun 90+ MPH hull. We also had two 565 powered boats in water for demo rides at the Sea Isle Marina. Nor-Tech brought their new 420 Monte Carlo with twin 565s. Formula showcased a 400 Super Sport FX hull; also with 565 power. That boat didn’t move much – and for good reason. It was sold a few weeks prior to the show. There was no need to run it. The idea having a pair of high performance big blocks, with plenty of snort and torque, sold itself.
A couple, who formerly owned a Formula 382 FASTech sport boat, told 565 engine tech Steve Draves they wanted to get a cruiser like the 400 Super Sport so they can enjoy time on the water with the grand kids yet still enjoy performance similar to what they experienced in the FASTech. They left the Mercury dock to order their new from Formula with 565 power.
Skater Nation supplied us with the fastest boat at Sea Isle Marina; a beautiful 444 Skater with twin 1350s. The boat, capable of 170 mph, was a memorable ride for those lucky enough to get a ride. Thank you to driver Grant Bruggemann, Tommy Hoffstetter and the Skater Nation crew for helping us demo the performance capabilities of the 1350 sterndrives.
Another dock magnet was the 420 Monte Carlo, a modern day boat with classic European lines. Nor-Tech’s Nils Johnson couldn’t stop talking about the 565s [This was hull #2; the first 420 was powered by diesels].
“The boat tops out at about 63 mph with the diesels. We got to 86 with the 565s. When you compare fuel prices [diesel versus gas] and engine costs, the 565s are a no brainer,” Nils said. “Fuel economy is quite good. We are getting around two miles-per-gallon at the 60 mph cruise speed. We are seeing better fuel economy with the 565s than we do with outboards [the Monte Carlo is based on the same hull used on Nor-Tech’s 39 outboard center console],” said Nils.
Cigarette Racing again had an incredible booth, featuring an AMG themed 50 Marauder with twin 1350s and a 42-foot Huntress center console with five Verado 350 SCi outboards! They too had a successful show. I was there when Phil Lipschutz (owner of Lip-Ship Performance) told Cigarette CEO Skip Braver he sold two Marauder’s at the show. Skip was very pleased. Before the show ended, all the Cigarettes had happy owners!
My visit to the DCB booth was great. The blue M-31 Wide Body drew me into the booth. The Mercury Racing blue 1350s looked great nestled into the color matched engine bay. Brad Macaulay, the proud owner, told me all about his new boat.
“This is the first time I got to see it. The last time, it was a big glob of blue resin. The blue was a color option available at one time from Ferrari. The white dial faces are a Ferrari theme as well. I’m pleased how the custom engine color matches the boat,” Brad said.
Brad has owned a number of boats. His most recent one had hand-built, blown engines. “I just got tired of never being able to use that boat. I worked on it more than I enjoyed it,” said Brad. He is looking forward to using his new DCB for the fist time at the Desert Storm Poker Run.
I didn’t get a chance to talk much with Randy Scism but the large cats he had on display were works of art — as usual. He did ask me and a number of my associates detailed questions regarding the new 565s. I’m thinking a 565 powered MTI SV42 Vee Bottom Center Console may be on the horizon…just say’in.
I’ve come out of the Miami show in the past thinking it was a good show. This one seems more convincing than others in recent memory. Everyone I talked to – members of the media, event promoters, dealers, boat builders, racers and consumers — all seemed upbeat and confident!