There have always been boats that tug so hard on our hearts that we’re willing to suspend rational thought for pure passion. We love them when they’re first introduced, covet them while they’re available and search for them when they’re not. We’ll do anything to own them. Why? Because these are the boats that get it right. Each does one thing so well that nothing else compares to it. If the model stays around long enough, a myth is created, which is what happened with these five. Over the years, they’ve become so desirable that a dedicated following — yes, a cult — formed. And while the retro guys love to restore them, builders and boaters alike know that, while there’s always a place for “brand-new," classic design has legs.
As Sweet Today as 45 Years Ago: Donzi Sweet 16
Boats this size are for kids, right? Not this one. A Donzi sweet 16 in the hands of a child would be like giving him an automatic rifle with unlimited ammo. Put a novice in one and he’ll be disappointed when he “moves up” to something bigger.
Designed by Walt Walters and Jim Wynn, it was the masterpiece of Don Aronow and the first boat offered by his company, Donzi Marine. Since going into production in 1964, with a gap in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this boat has been something of a little-known jewel. Its 50-plus mph top speed feels like a whole lot more, and with the type of handling only a small boat can offer, it’s incredibly fun. This is accomplished with a 24-degree deadrise that gives an eerily smooth ride. In the 1960s, one was even driven from the North Miami factory to an eager buyer across the Gulf Stream in the Bahamas.
Donzi currently offers it as the Classic 16 with a 260 hp 5.0 MPI MerCruiser, but only on special order and at a special price — $79,000. Do many sell? No, but some guys simply must have one. If you can find one used, it’ll go for $10,000 to $35,000. Big bucks for a small craft — but the payback is huge fun.