Best wake and reliability - early 90's era direct drive

wtstapelwtstapel Posts: 10 Baller
I am looking for a 2nd boat. I currently own and maintain my v-drive wakeboard boat. I'd like to buy a relatively inexpensive direct drive as we like to ski too. No rush so I'd like to find something sub 15k. Priorities would be for the ski wake and reliability. We'd only use this boat to foot and slalom. Reading other threads it seems I should be looking for a ski nautique or prostar 190, is that correct for the early 90's era boats? TIA.


  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,224 Mega Baller
    How much footing are you doing? A mid-90's Malibu Response/Echelon, Sportster, Sunsetter will have the best footing wake by a mile. Malibu was just starting to hit a stride in the mid-90s with some really good boats for the time.

    90-96 Ski Nautique set the standard at the time for driving experience, tracking, spray, build quality, and ergonomics for what we'd consider a modern ski boat today, no question, by a mile. BUT the long-line barefoot wake is not great. Slalom wake is pretty good. Not a footing boat though.

    91-94 MC people absolutely go bonkers for here but the driving experience and ergonomics/layout are awful IMO so I highly disagree with rating that boat so highly. Not a modern driving experience. Highly rated slalom wake for the era, never footed one but the footing wake is probably better than the SN of the same period, I'd guess.

    95-97 MC could be an interesting option though I have no experience with those.

    Reliability will be similar across the board, I'd avoid TBI fuel injection setups if possible from that era, maybe they are more serviceable now though. 95+ PCM GT40 in the SN is the of the best EFI powerplants ever made for a ski boat and the LT1 Indmar engines are also terrific EFI motors. Otherwise, go carb.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 5,211 Mega Baller
    Define footing. Do you need 45mph? Is 42-44 sufficient?

    Early 90s you have a number of great options with great reliability and simple service. But if you plan to foot at higher speeds you may need to investigate some of the optioned boats or reprop as they will probably be topping out around the 42 43 mph mark.

    My pick in the early 90s would be a 94 Prostar with the tbi 5.7 or maybe a 96 SN with the efi so long as the ecm has been replaced.
  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 983 Mega Baller
    I agree. If you can find one , 1993/94 MC 190 with FI. A bubble butt would be a great option if slalom is a priority. I don’t think footers like it though.
  • wtstapelwtstapel Posts: 10 Baller
    Our footing is minimal. Its something I want to learn and something my boat partner wants to get better at. I don't have much access to a boom currently. I'm learning to foot off the boom. My boat partner foots long line.

    Thanks for the responses thus far.
  • wtstapelwtstapel Posts: 10 Baller
    Oh and for speed, we both fluctuate between 190 and 220 lbs. We've used my wakeboard boat and were only hitting 40-42.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 5,211 Mega Baller
    So for reliability if you want to save money and have simple usage and care the 94 95 96 97 Prostar with the base model Chevy tbi and a 1:1 Trans would be my boat pick for you.

    If you want slalom course performance and are tolerant to a bit more picky upkeep the Nautique Ford efi would be OK but parts are harder. Probably the better course ski boat
  • dave2balldave2ball Posts: 1,109 Crazy Baller
    92 thru 94 MC pro star. Would be a great choice. Nautique would also be a great choice also. 90 and later wakes are also great. Can’t go wrong with either.
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,940 Mega Baller
    In that price range, you might be able to find a 1998 to 2000 Malibu Response. That would give you what you are looking for. Great wakes for both sports, and if it has the Indmar Monsoon. The maintenance is dead easy.
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
  • marknmarkn Posts: 538 Mega Baller
    We owned a 1995 Nautique Signature from new for 9 years. Obviously, a great slalom boat even today. For footing, I thought it was fine. We did wake crossings and you could even use a 5 foot handle and step off the platform for close up footing. In 9 years of ownership, we had zero maintenance issues. Only sold it to buy a new 196.
  • vtjcvtjc Posts: 310 Solid Baller
    I would look for a wood-free boat with EFI prioritizing condition and maintenance history.
    93+ Nautigue are wood free, some are carb others are EFI with GT40 preferred by many
    94+ MasterCraft is EFI, 93 LT1 also EFI, 84+ MC are wood free
    99+ MasterCraft 5.7L aka Predator is Chevy Vortec with TBI

    It seems the 97-01 Ski Nautique TSC with GT40s are around $15k again.
    I had a 99 MC SportStar which uses the 95-97 Prostar Hull with a simpler interior with the 5.7L. Great power and wake, tracking wasn’t great.

    WaterSki Mag 5 used boats

    The brand-specific forums have some more info such as this history of the Prostar:
  • Keith_MenardKeith_Menard Posts: 828 Mega Baller
    Dark horse if you aren't on a public lake with it when it gets rough...

    Gekko GTO, GTR, or GTS

    Right @bananaron? :)
  • owennibleyowennibley Posts: 72 Baller
    91-94 Prostar 190. Best wake for all speeds up to 32' off. 94 is the unicorn with EFI as mentioned before. Recently sold my 92 for a 2015 Prostar.... I miss my 92. Such a good looking boat, but I love having zero off on my 2015.

    95-97ish Prostar 190 the wakes are really hard. I will do everything I can to not ski behind my ski partners 96 190.

    I personally wouldn't consider Malibu until after 1998. I think the quality got better after that. However, the best wakes I've skied coupled with a great driving experience would be 2002+ Response LX. Might be out of your desired price range though.

    I don't have a lot of experience with the Ski Nautiques. But they seem to have a good following.

    My vote would be 91-94 prostar 190 (or even the 205).

    Best of luck.
  • 503Kento503Kento Posts: 175 Baller
    Get high, get fast, and do some good work
  • RednucleusRednucleus Posts: 845 Mega Baller
    edited July 19
    Not one of the big 3's, but Sangers of that era were good ski & barefoot boats. I had a 95 open bow; buddy loved the barefoot wake, very adequate in the course, and roomy for the kids. Wish I had not sold it!
  • CentCent Posts: 273 Baller
    91 to 94 MC. Only 94 has Throttle body efi. Prior boats are carbureted.

    95 to 97 MC has less spray a bit more room. Wake a bit more challenging but good.

    Centurion LaPoint boats from that era around 94 can be excellent but harder to find.

    Owned at least one of all three described.
  • Dacon62Dacon62 Posts: 879 Crazy Baller
    Correct me if I’m wrong but if you use a boom Nautiques in that era power washed you unless you had a boom extension to get away from the spray.
    Prostar would be good. But probably the best all around for lack of spray, good barefoot/ski wake and top speed would be a late ‘90 response.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 373 Crazy Baller
    @jhughes TBI are one of the easiest EFI systems to work on proving the ECU is OK (but they all use similar MEFI / MEFI2 anyway) - its basically the mercruiser setup with an indmar tune so parts are really easy to get hold of

    Just got rid of my 96 EFI (tbi) and it was a proper workhorse, in a 205 it would do 46mph (on gps) but with that era you're on hand throttle or PP if lucky/upgraded
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 5,211 Mega Baller
    The side you all need to also remember is his sub 15K price point. Like @vtjc pointed out some of these boats are under 15K but by the time you start talking late 90's and some of the unicorn desirable boats they start to be 18-20k pretty reliably things like 1993 Prostar 190 LT-1 Power slots particularly in the stars and stripes can run up to 25 in a hurry.

    So I think the value is really strong in the TBI boats, I don't think the LT1 is necessary but I do heavily recommend a good modern cnc prop on any of them - great improvement.
  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,224 Mega Baller
    @chrislandy I'll withdraw my TBI comment then, makes sense. I remember them being troublesome in the past but it's gotta be a pretty simple system in theory.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 373 Crazy Baller
    @jhughes I think the knowledge is just out there now, people have even written open source diagnostic software for it now
  • Kevin89MCKevin89MC Posts: 40 Baller
    I had an '89 Mastercraft Prostar, currently have a '99 Response LX, and have skied a bunch behind a '97 Nautique 176 (similar to a 196) and a 1998 Prostar. The Nautique wins the slalom wake award, with the '99 Response and '98 Prostar right behind. My '89 wake was certainly not bad, but was a bit "more" than the others. I put GT40 heads on my Prostar, and that definitely helped both the slalom pull and barefoot speed as the old boats were a bit underpowered, especially with the 1:1 transmission. I foot occasionally, and like the Response and the '98 Prostar the best. I have skied a few times behind a '95-'97 Prostar and a '91-94 Prostar (with a full boat) and was not a big fan of either wake. Again nothing bad, just a bit "more" than the newer boats. IMHO Nautique got the slalom wakes figured out in 1997, Mastercraft and Malibu in 1998. Of course I'm a little biased, but I like the Malibu for the slalom & footing wake and speed, and the Wedge for playing around with a bigger wake. But honestly any of the boats discussed in the thread should meet your needs fairly well.
    Keeping it under $15k will be tough, but maybe next year prices might settle down a little bit where some of the later '90's boats will get there. I bought my Response for way under that in 2020, but it was ridden hard and put away wet. Still working on all the cosmetic things, but is skis great! Good luck with the search.
  • ALPJrALPJr Posts: 2,865 Mega Baller
    91 - 94 PS190 what wake? There’s almost nothing there. Spray could be annoying after -32 and those with mad skills may say there’s a bit of a trough at -38 and beyond.
  • Kwoody51Kwoody51 Posts: 146 Baller
    To expand your options a bit you can also consider an PS205. Same hull as 190 but with open bow. They lagged the 190 by a year. So a ‘95 205 will have same hull ad as the ‘94 190 but will have efi.
  • DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 1,155 Crazy Baller
    SN 196 1997-2001 BB Get wakes
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 6,131 Mega Baller
    Footing that vintage and maintaining slalom u want a Malibu Response or Sportster.
    Give away footing 97 or newer Nautique.
    As others mentioned dark horse Gekko.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • ETskierETskier Posts: 192 Solid Baller
    Agree with @BraceMaker. The right prop can make a difference. My 94 Nautique 196 came with a 3 blade stock prop (and it was a promo boat). Put an OJ 4 blade Legend on it, more power, 46mph, and the smallest lowest wake ever. No spray at 35off.
  • ETskierETskier Posts: 192 Solid Baller
    Don't know about 38 off. Never got there.
  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,808 Mega Baller
    edited July 20
    What region are you in? There are some deals in the southeast on a couple of the boats listed. A 96 Centurion Lapoint for $9,500 that looks really clean in the ad. A guy I skied with in Louisiana had a 96 (pretty sure) Malibu. The slalom wake was ok. I definitely prefer the 97+ Nautiques. He said the barefoot wakes were so far superior that the trade off was worth it to him. I’ll take his word for it, I leave barefooting to the little rubber people.
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,940 Mega Baller
    98 was the first year of the diamond hull under the Response. It could be found under a few 97 Echelons. That will foot just about as well as that 96 Malibu but have nicer slalom wakes.
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
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