F225 —By Capt. Bill Pike
— January 2002
Bound for Glory
|Could this be the best darn outboard ever? We fire up a Pro-Line 27 Express to find out.|
I remember the first time I heard talk of a big V-6 four-stroke Yamaha. It was roughly a decade ago, about the time a competing manufacturer was taking the lead in four-stroke technology with a couple of new 35- and 45-hp models with virtues that remain characteristic of four-strokers today: environmental cleanliness, smoothness, quiet operation, and excellent fuel economy. Of course, due to the allure of such traits, all manner of early-‘90s folk were ready to jump on the four-stroke bandwagon and stay there, provided manufacturers kept their products within a reasonable horsepower range, which then seemed to top out around 100 hp.
But a really big four-stroke, one like the behemoth Yamaha was supposedly working on? Commentators were convinced that the successful development of such an outboard was about as likely as that of a Hell-resistant snowball. Certainly, clean, green four-stroke engines were fine for automobiles and small outboards where weight and size weren’t critical, but the technology was way too bulky and hefty to fit a V-6 outboard envelope practically.
A few more years of R&D did little to improve the prognosis. In 1994 Yamaha invited a few marine journalists to visit Japan to check out the development of several new engine products, one of them being a V-6 four-stroke. The collective opinion afterwards, with the vision of what had seemed like a very large prototype still fresh in the reporters’ minds, was just a tad less than upbeat. Indeed, perhaps because Yamaha was concurrently developing engines for several automobile manufacturers, the metaphors the media types used to describe the status of the outboard project followed suit. The worst of the lot, if memory serves me correctly, humorously compared the prototype size-wise, weight-wise, and oomph-wise to a Volkswagen Beetle.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.