• The Targa 40 is an impressive offshore boat that still cuts the mustard today.
  • Unlike many of its newer contemporaries it does not sacrifice seakeeping, handling and performance for the sake of extra accommodation.
  • Internally, the Targa 40 offers a good balance of accommodation.
  • The Targa 40’s hull credentials are also matched by its standard of build both in its construction and internal fit-out.

Fairline Targa 40

PBR’s new technical editor Greg Copp explores the reasons behind the success of the evergreen Targa 40.


Fairline’s iconic Targa family has been a benchmark for sports cruisers for nearly 30 years. It all started with the petrol-powered Targa 27 – the boat to have back in the 80s. From then on the range got bigger and better, and in 2000 Fairline launched the Targa 40. Costing £192,000 then, this was the boat to beat. It drove like a sports boat, could handle rough weather, was quick and accommodated four in comfort. It was also one of the early pioneers of the tender garage and still one of the smallest sports cruisers to be able to accommodate a 2.7m tender.


The marine diesel engine really came of age in 1997 with the launch of Volvo’s 260hp super- and turbocharged KAD44 sterndrive engine. It was ideal for boats like the Targa 40. An 8-tonne sports cruiser needs some torque to perform and the KAD 44 provided the grunt the Targa needed. The first Targa 40s were capable of 31/32 knots with good acceleration and responsive sure-footed steering. Two years later, Volvo’s new 285hp KAD300 replaced the KAD44. In 2004, the common rail injected turbocharged 310hp Volvo D6 replaced the mechanically injected KAD300, making the Targa 40 a 36-knot boat. The following year, with the super- and turbocharged 350hp Volvo D6 now an option, the Targa 40 could nudge 40 knots.


However, the real key to the success of the Targa 40 was not advances in engine technology but its hull. Like most Fairlines it is a Bernard Olesinski design with a variable deep-vee hull. The Olesinski variable deep vee in the Targa 40 starts with a transom deadrise of 18 degrees, sharpening to 24 degrees aft of amidships before narrowing progressively into a sharp forefoot. This variable deep-vee design has proved hugely successful over the years, notably in Fairline’s middleweight sports cruisers. The Targa 40’s hull credentials are also matched by its standard of build both in its construction and internal fit-out.


Though heavily laid up, you will need to look behind the scenes when considering buying one, as a boat that can handle heavy weather, not surprisingly, can encourage enthusiastic use. Hull stress cracking or loose stringers are not common features with Fairline, but they can and do on occasions happen to the best of boats.

Most will have blue hulls, as this was a popular option when new, but these require a bit more care. Gelcoat chalking towards and around the stern quarters is not uncommon. Years of sun and salt can take their toll on coloured hulls. Boats that have lived in the Med will be more prone to this. It is not a drama to deal with – you will just have to factor in the cost of having the gelcoat cut back and then protected with an anti-UV coating. Even after 14 years you are unlikely to find any problems with the thick teak that Fairline use on their decks. In the same vein, the side deck handrails are tall and the deck hardware sturdy and practical. However, if the cockpit covers are getting long in the tooth you will, as I have found, find some of the cockpit upholstery showing signs of age.


Engine access is a bit of a squeeze, which is the price you pay for a tender garage. You access the engine compartment through a hatch in the cockpit companionway starboard of the sun pad. Though there is plenty of space in front of the engines there is little above, making dipstick removal less than easy. Inspection hatches are conveniently located in the garage floor enabling easy oil top-ups, but that, of course, means running the tender out of the garage. Fuel filters, shut-offs and raw-water strainers are mounted forward of the engine. Once you have crawled forward of the engines you have plenty of space to access them. However, given the implications of doing this with hot engines, you will need to be religious in your pre-passage checks.


The cockpit is well thought out, though you only get a single helmsman seat. If you have the luxury of a navigator, they can navigate from the L-shaped seating and chart table opposite. Helm ergonomics are pretty good, with the helmsman having a second chart table of his own. Instruments and navigational electronics are placed where they can be easily seen. However, as it was designed 15 years ago, unless you want to rework the dash layout the biggest plotter you can fit will be 10 inches. The cockpit aft area has the best of both worlds with a sun pad and dinette. Side deck access is an easy affair via port and starboard steps from the bathing platform. Launching a tender is also straightforward – you simply lift the aft section of the sun pad up on its hydraulic rams and pull the tender out on a stainless trolley. It can then be let down via its leash off the back of the bathing platform into the water. Recovering is the reverse process.


Internally, the Targa 40 offers a good balance of accommodation. The galley is an ideal size, offering a realistic level of facilities. Importantly the fridge is big, the oven is a medium size and the hob generally has two rings. Storage is good, all things considered, and the saloon dinette opposite comfortably sits four. The forward master cabin has plenty of headroom around the double berth and en suite access to the only heads, which also has separate access to the saloon. The mid cabin is fairly generous, with full standing headroom in the doorway, a sink and a decent hanging wardrobe.


The Targa 40 is an impressive offshore boat that still cuts the mustard today. It was, and still is, Fairline’s largest sports cruiser designed for sterndrives from the onset. Unlike many of its newer contemporaries it does not sacrifice seakeeping, handling and performance for the sake of extra accommodation. As a result of its high build quality, its driving experience and the later engine options available, this is certainly a boat to consider if you are looking for a credible offshore cruiser at a sensible price.

Choice cut

2005 Price: £139,950 (inc. VAT)

This caught my attention as the keenest-priced 350hp D6-powered Targa 40 on the market. Being a stock boat, it comes with a warranty and part exchange is possible – a rare commodity in the used-boat business. It is a one-owner boat with some 382 hours logged, so has neither been under- nor overused. It has a full set of Raymarine electronics, passerelle, tonneau and camper covers. Internally it sports modern cream leather upholstery plus a gas hob and oven, so no need for a generator at anchor. The slight fault I could see was that the rear seating in the cockpit had suffered a little over time. The sterndrives will need scraping and re-antifouling along with the hull – nothing that should not be expected of any used boat.

Data file

  • Build period:             2000 to 2006
  • Designer:                  Bernard Olesinki
  • Berths:                      4
  • Cabins:                      2
  • Hull type:                   Variable deep vee
  • RCD category:         B for 12
  • Current value:          From £110,000 to £170,000
  • Length overall:         41ft 6in (12.65m)
  • Beam:                       12ft 0in (3.66m)
  • Draught:                  3ft 2in (0.97m)
  • Displacement:         8 tonnes (light)
  • Fuel capacity:           164 gal (746 litres)
  • Water capacity:        66 gal   (300 litres)
  • Cruising range:        220 miles to 260 miles depending on engine options with a 20% reserve.

As well as looking great, the Targa 40 is built to the predictably high standards established over so many years by Fairline. The hull and deck mouldings are designed and built to withstand the high-loading conditions experienced when moving fast at sea, and so it’s not surprising that during my surveys I didn’t find stress cracks in the hull mouldings, or gelcoat cracks in the superstructure caused by the structure flexing.


But no boat is perfect, and I have found broken and released secondary bonding at the aft end of the port saloon seating and division bulkhead on a few Targa 40s that I have surveyed. It is also just worth checking that the moulding that forms the division between the engine room and the dinghy garage is clamped securely onto its seal. I have occasionally found a gap here, which in exceptional circumstances could lead to down-flooding.


There was a problem for a year or two with the bronze propellers that Volvo fitted to their sterndrives, and these should be checked for aggressive pitting at the roots of the blades on the low-pressure side. The air intakes are in the topsides, which is typical for this type of sports cruiser, but there was insufficient baffling to prevent saltwater mist from entering the engine room when driving hard in rough, windy conditions. This could lead to corrosion on the engines and electrical equipment, but this will be very evident when looking in the engine room.

Jim Pritchard

Engine options

It is a case of whether you want to pay the extra premium that the D6 common rail injected engines put on the value of post-2004 boats or feel that the earlier mechanically injected KAD44 and KAD300 engines will suit your needs. Both types of engine are reliable, though the D6 will be a better bet in the long term. However, there is something to be said for not having electronically injected engines, though any software problems that some D6s suffered from have, by and large, been dealt with by now.


The Volvo duoprop sterndrive is rightly recognised as the most durable and efficient production sterndrive produced. However, the later series sterndrive used with the D6 engine was known to suffer more from electrolysis-induced corrosion than the early sterndrives used on the KAD44 and KAD300. This can require more frequent anode changes, so bear this in mind. 


The most efficient propeller to use is stainless. With a clean hull you can expect up to another 2 knots and better fuel consumption. However, this will compound the issue of electrolysis, so you need to anticipate two lifts a year to keep tabs on the anodes. If you use the boat frequently, stainless propellers and a clean hull will pay dividends.

Bow thruster

When buying a 10-year-old boat it is worth checking whether it has had the bow thruster replaced with a newer-generation thruster at some point. Bow thrusters have come on leaps and bounds in recent years in terms of power, and a 10-to-15-year-old thruster will have had a hard life. It would not be a bad move to upgrade an old thruster with one of Sleipner’s variable speed thrusters.


During the early years of the Targa 40 the trend was blue fabric upholstery. Some boats will have been reupholstered with harder-wearing cream leather in keeping with the upholstery of later boats.

Running costs


Expect to pay between £500 and £600 per engine for a 100-hour service on any of the engine options. The newer common rail injected D6 engines may cost a little extra to service over the KAD44s and KAD300s, but servicing costs vary from dealer to dealer. Do not shy from using a recommended and reputable independent engineer, especially when servicing the mechanically injected KAD44 and KAD300. The sterndrives ideally need to have a bellows service every second year if the boat is kept in the water most of the year. This can vary greatly in cost depending on parts, anodes and how long it has been in the water. There is also the cost of getting the boat lifted, so bear this in mind if you bring the boat ashore during the winter. If a boat sinks on its mooring due to a perished bellow on the sterndrive, the insurance company will want to see a receipt for a sterndrive bellows service within the last two years.


Boats with KAD44s/KAD300s will return around 1.6mpg at 26 knots and around 1.3mpg at 30 knots.

Boats with 310hp/350hp D6s will return around 2mpg at 26 knots and around 1.5mpg at 30 knots.

Arksen Discovery Series


Premier Marinas - Launch at the tap of the App

Henri Lloyd

Yamaha - The most exciting way to get from A to B campaign