Pony Up!

Last spring Boating Life tested Stingray's new 250LR with a 300-horsepower MerCrusier 350 Mag and thought the boat was a real threat. Then, just weeks before we went to press with this issue, Stingray announced the boat would be available with a 496-cubic-inch Volvo Penta dual prop stern-drive that boasts 420 horsepower.

Whoa, boy! That move has us seriously asking, "How much horsepower is enough and how much is too much?"

Top speed is always the top line in performance reports, no matter how much we try to argue that we're not speed demons. In this case, our devilish selves were indulged with a whopping 10 additional miles per hour, which got our hooves clicking right along. But does it really matter?

We asked Stuart Litgens of Boulder Boats in Nevada. He's an avid boater and Stingray dealer on Lake Mead who just bought the 250LR with a big block for his personal boat.

"Well, first it's a big block, and it's nice to have those bragging rights," he says. "Second, getting over 60 mph is a big thing. Mead is a big lake with a lot of water and a lot of egos, too."

Stingray 250LR Bowrider

Top Speed
0 to 20 mph
0 to 30 mph
0 to 40 mph
0 to 50 mph
Cost w/engine
Merc 350

51.1 mph
4.3 sec.
7.6 sec.
10.6 sec.
19.7 sec.
Volvo 8.1
Dual Prop

61.4 mph
4.0 sec.
6.2 sec.
8.7 sec.
12.2 sec.

From a performance standpoint, that's all it takes for some boaters to pony up. The $6,763 upcharge comes out to about $56 per horse - something no cowpoke worth his lariat would sneeze at. And the cost per added mph? About $67. We know a lot of boaters who spend much more money to get just one more mile per hour.

But the hidden savings comes from fuel economy. Most boaters like to boat at a certain crusing speed, and the bigger engine will get that speed at a lower rpm. Sure, at wide-open throttle the big engine will burn lots more fuel, but at moderate speeds it's apt to burn much less. At today's prices, it won't take long to earn that money back.

People think bigger means it burns more gas," says Litgens. "But at three-quarters throttle a bigger engine will actually burn less than a smaller engine running harder."

Another hidden benefit comes in at resale time. "We had two identical bowriders at our brokerage," says Litgens. "One had a 5.7-liter V-8 and the other 7.4-liter block. Guess which one sold first and brought the biggest price?"

Horsepower rules. - Randy Vance

Boating Life Magazine
Fall 2005


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