By PRA’s Gregg Mansfield
Photos by Mark Spencer
Anyone who is a student of offshore racing history will remember the Donzi 38 ZRC and the success it had in factory racing. The sit-down offshore boat was the ahead of its time and disappeared from the performance scene more than a decade ago.
Iconic Marine Group, which owns the Donzi brand, relaunched the award-winning 38 ZRC and added modern touches for today’s recreational performance boater. It still has the same super-fast hull and sleek cockpit that made it a head-turner when the 38 ZRC was launched in 2002.
The newest version is the lightest yet with the biggest power ever offered in the twin-engine 38 ZRC. Iconic Marine used Mercury Racing’s 860 engines and M6 drives for the return of the 38 ZRC and it delivered big time.
During tests on the Pamlico River, just outside Iconic Marine’s factory in North Carolina, the 38 ZRC posted 120 mph top-speed runs, according to the company. Because the boat had never run those speeds, Iconic Marine made some changes to the bottom after digitizing the original two-step hull.
“We knew we would have to make some modifications to the running surface for the 860 (engines),” said Brett Palaschak, design engineer for Iconic Marine Group. “It’s never been this fast, so we expected a few changes.”
Engineers “blueprinted” the hull, making changes to the lifting strakes and aft pad, so the 38 ZRC would run better at higher speeds with the staggered Mercury Racing engines. The 38 ZRC is also being offered with Mercury Racing 565 sterndrives with Bravo One XR drives.
When laying up the current version, engineers used the opportunity to take some weight out of the hull and deck with the boat checking in at 11,500 pounds dry. The hull and deck are hand-laid using vinylester resin with high-density foam coring for added strength.
Iconic Marine didn’t make any changes to the deck, preserving the timeless look of the 38 ZRC. Donzi now offers the 38 ZRC with a wraparound windshield or the classic version with the quarter-canopies. Consumer feedback made Iconic Marine add the full windshield, which provides superior wind protection for the rear bench passengers
Previously, the 38 ZRC was offered with dual helms with the throttles and shifters from Livorsi Marine in the center console. Iconic Marine kept the driver’s spot to port, flanking the wheel is with large privately labeled analog gauges. The co-pilot’s spot was stacked with more gauges and a Vessel View 502 screen in the center. A Garmin 8610 screen was in the dash above the console with the toggle switches set in a carbon-fiber panel.
The front bucket seats on the 38 ZRC have always been a tight fight, especially for bigger guys. Iconic Marine kept the sport bucket seats with electrically actuated footrests, and upgraded the upholstery using a higher quality vinyl than previous generations.
The rear has three individual bucket seats with dry storage below. The builder included a Vessel View 703 screen in the console so rear passengers can keep tabs on the speed.
The 38 ZRC is a purpose-built speed boat so it doesn’t come with a cabin, but 38-footer does have two stowage lockers in the deck. Buoy stowage is in two lockers between the cockpit and engine compartment.
With a narrow 8’1” beam, Donzi did an excellent job staggering the 860-hp engines with the port engine forward. The Mercury Racing five-blade CNC Cleaver 17” x 31” propellers are turning inward.
Iconic Marine updated the graphics packages on the 38 ZRC but didn’t touch any of the boat’s classic lines. When hanging at the docks, there are Shadowcaster underwater lights put on a light show synced to the MediaMaster MM50 stereo that comes with a 600-watt amplifier and four speakers.
It’s great to see the Donzi 38 ZRC back after being out of production for more than a decade and we’re confident the newest generation of powerboaters will love the 38 ZRC too.
2022 Donzi 38ZRC
Dry weight: 11,500 lbs
Fuel Tank: 250 gallons
Max Horsepower 1,720
Price w/ base power NA
For more information: www.donzimarine.com
Donzi Marine 22 Classic
There has long been a nostalgia for powerboaters when it comes to the Donzi 22 Classic. The boat’s timeless lines and sporty performance have created a larger-than-life reputation for the small V-bottom boat.
Iconic Marine Group, which owns the Donzi Marine brand, offered a 55th anniversary limited edition of the 22 Classic in 2020. It featured newly upgraded upholstery and a next-generation, top-of-the-line dash featuring
hardware from Livorsi Marine.
Base power for the 22 Classic is the 6.2-liter, 300-hp package from MerCruiser. Most buyers will likely opt for the 8.2-liter, 430-hp engine with the Bravo One X drive, which has a top speed of nearly 75 mph.
The cockpit has a sports-car feel with the leather-wrapped Isotta steering wheel and the custom Plasdeck cockpit flooring with a Donzi inlay. The tinted Venturi windshield adds to the 22 Classic’s sporty appeal.
With a 7-foot beam, Donzi had room for two custom bucket seats and a small rear bench seat. Donzi included stainless-steel handrails for passengers to hold on at speed. In addition to gauges from Livorsi and Mercury, Donzi Marine included a Marine Audio MM100 source unit, 400-watt marine amplifier and four speakers. The trim tabs with indicators are from Lenco.
Protecting the graphics were a heavy-duty rubrail and six stainless-steel cleats to tie off at the docks. As you’d expect for a 22-foot boat, there is no cabin and stowage is minimal.
Donzi offers a few upgrades for the 22 Classic including hydraulic steering, Mercury Racing K-Planes, a hideaway transom ladder and thru-hull muffler. Several gelcoat colors available including white, navy, yellow, black and red.
Few boat models that were introduced 55 years ago are still being built today. Donzi Marine’s 22 Classic continues to stand the test of time thanks great performance and an iconic design. — Gregg Mansfield