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1997 Malibu Echelon thoughts


Justin_C
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Looking at a 97 Echelon LX. Curious on thoughts and opinions. I know it doesn't have the diamond hull but that's not a deal breaker for the price and location of the boat. Going to look this weekend. Anything in particular (specific to those boats) we should be looking for other than the obvious?
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A friend has an Echelon. It has a carburetor. I think it was 95/96 but I don't think the hull had changed. At 34 mph and 22/28 it was a very big rooster tail compared to the 196s I ski behind. After a pass I think I got used to it expecting it was there but it caught me off guard on my opener. I didn't drive it so I don't know how it felt in the course. The only other "weird" thing about it was the seats were physically low to the floor. I am short so it didnt feel that out of place but you certainly felt low in the boat. Otherwise the boat my buddy had was in impeccable shape and looked better than most boats that were a quarter of its age. On the plus size his boat had plenty of cup holders where my 196 just has one for the driver. So in that regard it could be considered a better boat. :)
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@Justin_C - One thing to look for in that era Malibu is the condition of the floor on the port side of the engine box for any depression. That boat may have a honeycomb rudder cover, those had a propensity to crush down so check that out. Not a big issue but some had a slightly soft floor in that area. HDS box if it has one can be a bit of a maintenance issue and some had sealing issues. The slight changes in the SV23 hull over the years did not have a significant effect, all the Echelon / Response SV23 hulls are very good. If you go back and look at some of the older, and actually critical, reviews the Echelon / Response wakes scored extremely well. As noted, the 22 in particular and 28 off wakes have a bit of a center bump to them, very round and not hard but noticeable. 32 and shorter extremely good and flat, and as with other boats 39 has the trough dip. The ergonomics varied over the years so worthwhile to sit and evaluate the captains chair, I find the earlier ones have among the best ergonomics and late model ones are poor.
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@Justin_C, the HDS box is their Hydro Dampening System (think that is right). The drive shaft runs though a water-filled box to quiet it down. When you look in the bilge, you’ll see it with a rectangular cover. That leaked sometimes and required attention. Mine never has, but it’s a 2009 RLX.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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great boats! maybe the cheapest way to get great wake and walk-thru open bow.

 

most echelons had MAG 350s, but more '97s had monsoon (I consider this a deal breaker)

 

computron... annoying but easily replaced

 

can we see the ad? or pictures??

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sorry, I'm partial to the monsoon. they are the perfect blend of modern technology with old-school simplicity.

 

the regular 350 is just lame. I'd be pumped about the scorpion, although it's probably slightly less reliable due to the high performance parts.

 

seriously splitting hairs here though, all 3 engines have their pros and cons. and in a 22yo boat all of those engines could be in any condition from basically new to about to be your new mooring anchor.

 

if the price is even reasonable, I would get it. there are VERY few boats out there that are all three:

-good to great ski wake

-useable open bow

-affordable

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@Moffattra ok, thanks. Yeah, the reason the magnum is a plus for us is that there are hardly any ski boats in our areas and thus no dealers or repair facilities so getting parts can be tricky. With a mercruiser engine, you can get parts from nearly anywhere.

 

Thanks for your thoughts. It does seem to be a reasonable price and an upgrade from our current boat.

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The year is more critical on engine power than the actual marinizer, the GM heads were improved in 1996 for more airflow bumping the power level from 265 to 310 hp on the base engine, hence that level for the Scorpion. The long blocks are the GM Marine offering and all have same compression ratio and camshaft, the marinizer adds the ancillaries and does a fuel calibration. Uplevel engines that have more power will be configured differently such as larger displacement due to different crankshaft or different cylinder heads, etc. All the marinizers offer a variety of power level options.
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I've had a 97 echelon for years and regularly ski/drive a 196 and several other boats. If computron works now it won't in the future. I wouldn't worry about it. Mine has the HDS box, but it has not been an issue.

 

Regarding the soft spot behind the engine box, my was squishy. Piece of plywood and some fiberglass fix that. That honeycomb aluminum will fail, but it's not a big deal.

 

My engine is the indmar monsoon. Parts have been readily available so far including a transmission at about 1500 hours.

 

Wakes isn't as nice as the 196 or 200, but better than the nautiques earlier than 97. Mine tracks well.

 

I"d look at the trailer too. Trailers seem to disintegrate after about 10-15 years. New trailer is 4 or 5k.

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