Friday, December 19, 2008
Four Winns Unlimiteds
I have been obsessed with the Four Winns Unlimited series of boats since I first saw one at a dealer in 1995 or '96. This has been a rare and controversial boat since its inception. For a brief period in the mid-Nineties, Four Winns and Donzi operated underneath one corporate banner. Donzi of course is the legendary Florida brand that first marketed its Sweet 16 speedboat in The Sixties. For many years the company has been producing what they call the Classic line in 16-foot, 18-foot, and 22-foot lengths, and the series fits right in with Donzi's racy image. Four Winns has always been a Your Father's Oldsmobile sort of company. For the 1996 and '97 model years only, Four Winns produced a 17-foot and 19-foot pair of speedboats they called Unlimiteds. Clearly based on the Donzi hull design, but being quite different from the Donzis in detail, the U-17 and U-19 offered a style somewhat unique to themselves.
My obsession with the Unlimiteds stems from their individualistic features and creative marketing. The '96 models in particular are very pleasing to my eyes, more so than any of the Donzi Classics or the two-tone '97's, with their odd-shaped color-combination paired with very conventional two-tone seating. As for the danger element, I think you just have to show care and respect at the helm, much as you do with the notorious Kawasaki Triple motorcycles. I quite happily owned one of those for many years, and I knew that you never let one of those come up on the pipe in a corner. Twist that throttle in a straight line only! Without the snot-brand price quotient of a Donzi, the Unlimiteds were affordably priced, too. Like the lovable Corvettes and Mustangs of the '60's, you had to option up any Unlimited to make it interesting or even comfortable. Carpet, Bimini top, cockpit cover, through-hull exhaust, swim platform with a boarding ladder, a very low, windbreaking, dark-tinted windshield, CD stereo, and even a stern boarding ladder were optional. Even the graphics package, cassette stereo, and aft fill-in cushions were additional options offered on the 1996 models. The '96 models were offered in navy, red, chianti, teal, forest green, and purple. The 1997 colors were limited to navy, red, and yellow. When you factor in the color and engine choices, and of course the controversial DuoProp option, you can easily see how extremely few identical Unlimiteds were produced. What a fascinating boat!
Read a lot more details about the Unlimiteds in
Ker-Splash 2: The High Performance Powerboat Book
Ker-Splash 2 in Kindle