From the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, Fountain Powerboats produced some of the fastest V-bottom sportboats on the water. Speed was huge part of the Fountain appeal and mystique, so much so that—with speed-oriented slogans such as “miles per hour per dollar”—Reggie Fountain, the boat company’s energetic founder and relentlessly charming pitchman, based his entire marketing campaign on it.
The music stopped, so to speak, in the mid-2000s with Fountain’s bankruptcy, followed not long after by the recession of 2008. Production-built sportboat lines, and Fountain’s wasn’t the only one by any means, all but disappeared. But the brand has survived and could, if all works to plan under news owners CMG, experience a revival.
That will take time. Meanwhile, two pre-owned Fountain sportboats are getting new life thanks to, pun intended, fresh horses. Mercury Racing recently purchased a 2008 Fountain 47 Lightning repowered by Gordon Performance of McHenry, Ill., with twin switchable-power-level 1550/1350 engines, the Fond du Lac, Wis., high-performance marine engine giant’s latest addition to its quad overhead cam engine stable.
The boat will be used as test bed for Mercury Racing’s engineers. In its first test run on Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago, the 17,000-pound full-cabin 47-footer reached 124 mph.
“That thing is a beast,” said Mike Griffiths, Mercury Racing’s product manager. “Overall, it ran great with excellent handling, acceleration, and fuel economy. And that was with the engines in 1350 mode. Eventually, we’ll put in the ‘fun gas’ and bump them up to 1550.”
Griffiths said he expects the boat to eventually top in the low 130-mph range.
Said former Fountain dealer Scott Sjogren of Shogren Performance Marine, which shares its global Mystic Powerboats dealership location with Gordon Performance, and sold the Fountain sportboat to Mercury Racing, “I wish they’d had these engines when I was selling new Fountains.”
A little less than 1,000 miles to the southeast in Jacksonboro, S.C., Ben Robertson of BAR Marine Group is rerigging another Fountain sportboat built in 2008, this one a 42 Lightning, with new high-output engines from Fond du Lac. The 42-footer is being repowered with twin Mercury Racing 1350 mills for a client overseas.
Robertson estimated that the repowered V-bottom should top 150 MPH. The boat is scheduled to be shipped back to Sweden in the near future.
“Basically, we’re rigging this boat the same way we would rig a raceboat, with braided stainless steel hoses for the oil system and stainless fittings everywhere. We’ve replaced all the original brass fittings,” said Robertson, who worked and raced offshore closely with Reggie Fountain II. “We also turned over the boat and reworked the bottom, and we added [Mercury Racing] M8 drives.”
Old Fountain sportboats, meet new Mercury Racing power. Times have changed, speed remains.