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Test Results Synopsis

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I’ve not yet had a chance to drive a boat equipped with a new 380 although I’m sure the opportunity will arise eventually. In the meantime though, Volvo Penta’s put together some test data of its own, based on the operation of two Formula 26 Sun Sports, one with a new 380 in her machinery spaces, the other with a big-displacement, big-block V-8 with the same horsepower. Sea trials of the pair, according to Volvo Penta’s data, were performed on the same day, upon the same stretch of water, under roughly the same meteorological conditions. Moreover, the data says, the stern-drive systems on each boat were roughly equivalent (although at 2.14:1 vs. 2.00:1, the 380 had a slightly deeper gear ratio than the big block’s), fuel and water tankage levels were equal, and lead weights guaranteed both boats, excluding the big block’s extra heft, had virtually identical total weights.

Two Formula boats test Volvo’s V-8s.

Two Formulas test Volvo’s V-8s.

How did things go? Rather well, according to the test data. Although the two-way average top speeds of the Formulas came out about the same, acceleration for the one with the 380 was better (by about 21 percent from 4 to 26 knots) and so was fuel economy, although a disparity between wide-open revs (the 380 topped out at 6080 rpm and the big block at 4900) obviated making realistically direct comparisons, rpm to rpm. The Formula with the 380 also did better on emissions control, reportedly.

Volvo Penta is pleased with all this, of course, but still hungry. “We’re just beginning to walk this path,” says Cahoon. “It’s our intention to continue walking.”

Volvo Penta, 757-436-2800;