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2022 Formula 500 SSC

The 500 SSC provides fun and luxury for dayboating with as many crew as you’d likely take along.

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Formula 500 SSC in the ocean
The 500 SSC delivers sportboat fun. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

Overview

Idling up to a bustling Florida Keys hotspot in Formula’s 500 Super Sport Crossover, I watched as patrons left their tables, stopped dancing and crowded out onto the dock, phones up and filming. We spun the gleaming blue 50-footer’s nose into the full-moon current, giving all assembled a first-ever public look at Mercury’s V-12 600 Verado—all four of them.

We stopped abeam of a spot between two boats that, just maybe, allowed 4 more feet than the Formula’s 53-foot-4-inch length overall. A murmur arose from the crowd.

With Joystick Piloting engaged, we shunted sideways into the space, tipped the dockhand and grabbed some lunch. Yep, Formula’s 500 SSC impresses as much as it proves practical.

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Formula 500 SSC helm
The helm is well-equipped. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

Engines

Its seakeeping and maneuvering definitely caught my attention during our test, which involved running the boat from Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale, around the tip of Florida. Built specifically for the V-12 600 Verado (Formula was one of a select few boatbuilders to work with Merc and dial in the big mill), this 22-ton deep-V topped 64 mph during speed trials, with full tanks, a crew of three, and hundreds of pounds of boat-show brochures and other gear aboard. It crushed open-water chop at 45 mph. The 500 SSC proved nimble too. I enjoyed the heck out of conducting locked-over turns, also at 50 mph. You’ll find yourself cutting S-turns with this boat just for fun. The carving thrust induces G-force and delivers big smiles.

But there’s more to this boat-and-motors combo than just mega-power. The motors enhance the luxury and convenience aspects of the 500 SSC’s mission as much as its performance. You can read my full assessment of the V-12 600 at boatingmag.com/story/boats/mercury-introduces-v12-600-outboard, but in short, the gear cases turn and the powerheads don’t, meaning you get uncanny dockside maneuverability and station-holding, and an easy 50-footer to run singlehanded. Waiting for a slip, we held position in an inlet with the tide running hard by simply engaging the system and keeping a lookout. It’s two-speed gear case and double props mean great performance when entertaining the big crew this boat accommodates. Maintenance? Hauling out a boat this size is a project, and Merc recognized that by placing a hatch in the cowl that allows changing fluid and filters while in the water. Quiet? There is no quieter big-boat propulsion. Cool factor? Oh yeah, plenty.

Formula 500 SSC bow seating
The bow lounge is expansive. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

Interior and Accessories

That there’s dedicated storage for a Ski Bob on the platform speaks volumes about the boat itself, as do the electric latches that secure the locker doors; the folding radar mast; the dedicated life jacket and slicker locker; the hardtop with a huge windshield, windows and a sunroof; and the expansive bow lounge in a separate Zip code from the transom platform. Formula’s 500 SSC provides fun and luxury for dayboating with as many crew as you’d likely take along.

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Formula 500 SSC cockpit
There are at least four separate and distinct gathering areas. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

It can also carry its owners on more intimate cruises. Belowdecks, despite allowing for the supersize bow lounge topside, the cabin still provides the accommodations of roughly a 38-foot-long express cruiser. There’s a master stateroom aft, complete with a sofa, queen berth and 32-inch LCD TV. It’s elegantly appointed and large hullside windows complement the decor; the space is intimate, yet bright and open.

Forward, an Ultraleather U-lounge arrays guests around an electrically rising dining table that converts to a queen berth. In view is a 32-inch smart HD TV with a sound bar, and the audio system here, as throughout the boat, delivers excellent sound. Motorized blinds temper the light pouring in through the hullside windows.

Formula 500 SSC cabin
The cabin is equipped with a 32-inch smart HD TV with a sound bar. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

The galley is available in high-gloss or open-grain styling. It includes tempered-glass stemware, an Elka swivel spout in the sink, a pullout Isotherm 120V/12V stainless-steel refrigerator, a microwave, a Keurig coffee maker and a trash bin. In the head, discover more indirect lighting helping illuminate a separate shower room with rain and wand dual shower heads, a seat, a tempered-glass door, an exhaust fan, a night light, and four hooks for swimsuits or towels. The commode and vanity look upscale residential. The “forget and flush” model toilet alleviates the owner’s need to worry about plumbing, compared to other systems.

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Formula 500 SSC cabin
Belowedecks, there’s an Ultraleather U-lounge. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

As on deck, a short list of details helps to flesh out this boat’s place in the fleet. For instance, there’s indirect LED lighting in a variety of places. Additionally, a sculptured cyclorama, backlit by your favorite pastel or primary color, serves as the backsplash at the galley. There are marble counters and pickled wood cabinetry, and a Dyson vacuum and charging station hides under the companionway. The hardwood galley drawers are constructed using dovetail joints, providing elegance and longevity. Did I mention the electronic window that goes dark for privacy by pushing a switch? 

Formula 500 SSC head
The commode and vanity look upscale residential. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

Even leaving the Formula’s finish and ride qualities aside, there is no rival boat that delivers a sportboat’s convenience and excitement, a cruise ship’s carrying capacity, and the ability to serve as a weekender all in one outboard-powered package. Therefore, I don’t have a specific comparison boat to suggest, except to say that many big center-consoles offer carrying capacity, overnighting ability, exciting performance and even some luxury, though less so than you’ll find aboard the Formula 500 SSC.

Formula 500 SSC shower
There’s a separate shower room with rain and wand dual shower head. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

How We Tested

Engines: Quadruple 600 hp Mercury V-12 600 Verados

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Drive/Prop: Outboard/Verado 12 33″ pitch, stainless-steel dual-prop propsets

Gear Ratio: 2.50:1 Fuel Load: 600 gal. Water on Board: 80 gal. Crew Weight: 500 lb. 

Formula 500 SSC overhead
The hardtop features a huge windshield, windows and a sunroof. Courtesy Thunderbird Products

High Points

  • Hardtop provides excellent visibility at all speeds via a huge windshield, windows and a sunroof.
  • Providing more than just raw space, this boat offers at least four separate and distinct gathering areas. Invite everybody.
  • Lay this baby over into a turn and discover a big boat that delivers sportboat fun.

Low Points

  • We’d like to see fiddle rails on the counters.
  • Generous bow walkway precludes installation of a portside windshield wiper.

Pricing and Specs

Price: $2,940,000 (with test power)
LOA: 53’4″
Beam: 14’6″
Draft (max): 4’3″
Displacement (approx.): 43,400 lb.
Transom Deadrise: 19 degrees
Bridge Clearance: 11’10” (mast down)
Max Cabin Headroom: 6’8″
Fuel Capacity: 650 gal.
Max Horsepower: 2,400
Available Power: Quadruple 600 hp Mercury V-12 600 Verados

Speed, Efficiency, Operation

Formula 500 SSC performance data
Formula 500 SSC Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

Thunderbird Products – Decatur, Indiana; 260-724-9111; formulaboats.com

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