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Retro Revival

Groundbreaking 16-footers that share a hallowed place in powerboat history.

Updated:

August 22, 2017

The number 16 possesses magic. Shotguns chambered for 16-gauge ammunition command a special aura, compared with 10-, 12- and 20-gauge firearms. No birthday ranks higher in importance to a teen girl than her 16th. Fourteen-karat gold is more common, and 24-karat gold is pure, yet 16-karat gold is the refrain in the doo-wop classic “Sixteen Candles.” (The karat was invented as a unit of measurement in 16th century Greece, by the way). Whitey Ford, Frank Gifford and Joe Montana all wore number 16. Sixteen is a composite number, a square number and the smallest number with exactly five whole-number divisors. So “16” possesses karma, chi, a special power and a firm hold on our psyches.

That’s true for boaters, especially when talking about boats having an overall length of 16 feet. Not because that’s the length at which visual distress signals and Type IV throwable devices are required. No. The number 16 gets certified boat nuts breathing heavily because of the abundance of really cool, I-want-one-of-those-now, 16-foot boats. Boats like the GT 160 series that Glastron just debuted.

The GT 160s are runabouts embodying style and performance from a builder that’s made waves for 55 years. But like many iconic 16-footers, GT 160s also push our selfish pleasure buttons. They are roadsters of the sea, like the 16-cylinder Lamborghini Reventon or the V-16 Mercedes SL600 on land. Getting behind the wheel makes us feel special. Hitting the gas and going is a grin-splitting blast.

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We tested the GTR 160. While reading what follows, think back to your first boat, or your first boat ride, or the first boat that made you utter an awestruck and hushed profanity as it blazed across the big screen of a darkened theater. Chances are good your memories include a sweet-looking 16-footer, like Glastron’s new GT 160 series.

Retro Revival
Retro Revival Boating Magazine

These outboard-powered runabouts are available as open boats, or in closed-bow versions. To celebrate its 55th Anniversary Glastron is offering 55 of each of the four versions in a Collector’s Edition, with special gauges and other niceties, like the GTR 160 we tested. Standard GT 160 models are also available. Sports-car retro, describes all of these models.

Each boat sports a low, sleek, profile. The bow deck even looks like a racy hood. A steeply raked, roadster-style windshield continues the theme, though we didn’t like that its frame was right at eye level when we were seated.

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Setting off the exterior of the GTR 160 is the two-tone red-and-white gelcoat that re-creates the classic Glastron aft-pointing “spear” along the topsides. Glastron pioneered two-tone molding techniques decades ago.

Helm seats are a pair of tritone racing-style buckets as well as a full-width transom bench. The optional multitone carpeting in our test model also lends a sports-car aura.

Gauges are retro-style, multifunction pods. The steering wheel is also classic, with anodized aluminum spokes and a padded grip. In our test boat, this was bolted to an optional hydraulic steering system with a tilt helm.

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Retro Revival
Retro Revival Boating Magazine

Ok, the GTR 160 looks like a sports car. Does it perform like one? When powered by the optional Evinrude 115 E-TEC (75 hp is standard), it wasn’t exactly blistering out of the hole. But the E-TEC proved a rocket at midrange, like we had given it a shot of nitrous once it hit 25 mph.

Its top speed of 43.7 mph feels exhilarating because you’re so close to the water. Glastron’s SSV hull provides excellent response to trim. It lifts nicely and is nimble to boot. Cornering is smooth and smart, without tripping or skidding — and that is saying something for a 16½-footer.

The GTR 160 we tested was loaded with options such as chrome accent vents, a Sony two-speaker stereo, twin forward-facing blue LED lights, a ski pylon, an 18-gallon fuel tank (standard is 12 gallons) and a deluxe single-axle trailer, as well as the power upgrade.

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Base price for the GT 160 is $17,988, including the trailer. Optioned-out, the price rises to $23,988. Not bad for a boat that is a ton of fun and sure to grab attention wherever it goes.

Retro Revival
Retro Revival Boating Magazine

Three More Sixteens

Glastron isn’t the only company with runabout renown. This trio of 16-footers has had a huge impact on boats and boating. Here’s a glimpse at what they look like, and why we think they are important.

Retro Revival
Bayliner 1600/1650 Capri Boating Magazine

Bayliner 1600/1650 Capri
No boat put more fi rst-timers on the water than the Bayliner Capri. More than 12,000 boat-motor-trailer packages were sold between its introduction in 1984 and the end of its run in 1986. Heir to that legacy is Bayliner’s current 1600 OB model. bayliner.com

Donzi Ski Sporter 16
Donzi Ski Sporter 16 Boating Magazine

Donzi Ski Sporter 16
Also known as the 16 Classic and the Sweet 16, this boat has been winning hearts — and races — since 1964. Designed by Jim Wynne at the behest of boating legend Don Aronow, Donzi 16s rarely appear in the used boat market since friends and family place “dibs” on the boats. donzi.com

Chris-Craft 16 Hydroplane
Chris-Craft 16 Hydroplane Boating Magazine

Chris-Craft 16 Hydroplane
Chris-Craft produced 26 different 16-foot models over the decades, from lapstrake utility boats to the racy 16 Hydroplane (shown). This one was introduced in 1941 and featured a speed-enhancing stepped hull, a feature many modern boats boast as a “new” development. chriscraft.com

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