- With its family-driven race heritage, its engaging performance and its unapologetic 60s flair, it’s a boat that will no doubt sell like hot cakes
- In a hard turn, there’s plenty of old-school heel, but inevitably a lot of your pace is washed off as the modest engine struggles to preserve the revs
- This is not so much a copy as a simple resumption of business
- It’s child’s play to store, tow and deploy – and its performance on the water is just as friendly
Weird but Wonderful – Marino Mustang
Alex Smith examines a revival of an old craft whose main difference is that there is none …
When Marino launched their other-worldly APB 27 a couple of years back, we knew they had a fondness for a design tangent, but with the long-awaited reintroduction of their original 14-footer, their latest nod to the future is an unapologetic revival of the past.
Now I know we’ve seen various interpretations of old models from manufacturers keen to recapture the spirit (not to mention the sales figures) of boats from simpler, more profitable times. But to use the word ‘retro’ in relation to the Mustang is to miss the point. ‘Retro’ suggests something akin to an imitation of the past – and this is not so much a copy as a simple resumption of business. To all intents and purposes, it is the very same boat as the original Marino 1960s day cruiser, built by the same people and overseen by the same family-owned company. So what does a 50-year-old hull and design concept have to recommend it today?
Well, for a start, Marino’s hand-laminated hull was originally developed in the world of offshore racing, with a fine entry, a useful bow flare and a fairly generous deadrise of 22 degrees to help keep things smooth and dry through the chop. In 1970, one of these modest little 14-footers was even fitted with a sail and used to cross the Atlantic Ocean without an escort boat, so it’s fair to suggest that build quality is well up to the challenge of the fair-weather day trips for which most of these boats will be used.
At just 230kg, it’s child’s play to store, tow and deploy – and its performance on the water is just as friendly. Sitting in your deep-set bucket seat with your legs beneath the foredeck and your throttle arm resting on the gunwale top, it feels like a fine place to be. With a colour-coded Tohatsu 30 on the transom, it hits 24 knots with ease, and assuming your internal distribution of personnel is properly balanced, it runs with great agility, a very progressive attitude and a remarkably soft, dry ride.
In a hard turn, there’s plenty of old-school heel, but inevitably a lot of your pace is washed off as the modest engine struggles to preserve the revs. This is where the extra urgency and poke of the maximum 50hp outboard option could help make a serene and relaxing experience just that bit more potent and memorable. Either way, what is so different about the new Marino Mustang is that nothing at all is different. It’s precisely the boat so many fond owners of the originals have spent a great deal of money and toil trying to restore. But here, for a package price of around 18,000 euros, a pristine, trouble-free Marino Mustang in your choice of colour is ready to go. Tempting isn’t it – but if you fancy investing in your own slice of history, you should be aware that, by the standards of a modern 14-footer, its practicality is distinctly limited …
It seats only four, its fit-out is rudimentary, it’s extremely sensitive to the shifting of weight off the plane, and I’m willing to bet it would be a lot less entertaining to drive without a second person to act as your ballast. I also find the pandering to bygone styles difficult to condone, but even I have to concede that, with its long cockpit, flat, duck-billed foredeck and wrap-around screen, the Marino Mustang is as fun to look at as it is to drive. It’s by no means cheap, particularly given the dynamic superiority of a sporting 14-foot Fletcher, or the practical superiority of a spacious, stable, centre-console dory. But with its family-driven race heritage, its engaging performance and its unapologetic 60s flair, it’s a boat that will no doubt sell like hot cakes when (as is inevitable) it arrives on UK shores.
- LOA: 4.3m
- Beam: 1.7m
- Weight: 230kg
- People: 4
- Power: 15–50 hp