Ninth Report of Tavares, Lake Dora, Mount Dora, Florida, Antique and Classic Boat Show, Donzi 18

In the early 1960s an office, shopping center, and apartment builder / developer from New Jersey started a boutique boat building company. He built race boats at first. He liked rough, open-water offshore powerboat racing and built a boat company to build a winning boat. That was the 28 foot race boat.

Names that come to mind for this era of offshore boat racing are Jim Martenhoff, Odell Lewis, Pete Rittmaster, Forest Johnson, Jacoby, Brownie Allan Brown, Bill Wishnick, Red Crise, Sam Griffith, and Carl Kiekhaefer.

It was 1964 when Don Aronow made his first production Donzi Marine recreational boat. It was the Ski Sporter or “Sweet 16”. Jim Wynne, Brownie, and others were involved in the 110 Hp 4 cylinder powered 16. The boat made the company. It became a viable, small production Miami boat builder. Much of that design was adopted from Jim’s Wyn-Mill II race boat that also was powered by a Volvo car engine. Wynne had a business deal with Volvo.

He first had had Ray Hunt design him a 17’ boat. This boat, Wyn-Mill, did not do the job. But this size boat seemed to be right. Wynne then, himself, designed a 17’ boat named Wyn-Mill II. With that boat he then went out and set eight world class marathon power boat racing records with it.

donzi marine 18 fiberglass classic boat inboard outboard boat image photo

Donzi Marine 18 Classic

Most of the difference between the two boats was in the running strakes location /shape and also in the chine location. The relocation of the chines made this second design a truly different boat design from the first Wyn-Mill. A 17′ fiberglass boat was made from the race boat wooden plug of the Wynn-Mill II. This boat was then put in the water for some prototype fine-tuning by Don Aronow. Once Aronow sold his prior Formula boat company, Aronow found himself with this rough test boat, so, it went back to his Donzi Marine boat factory.  This boat was shortened somewhat and it is that shortened Aronow tested hull that became at least a third boat design and that became  the Donzi Sweet 16’/ Donzi Marine Ski Sporter.

Now, the world was turned upside down in small boats, with this Don Aronow Donzi Marine Sweet 16, first powered by a 110 Hp Volvo engine. Bigger engines and higher speeds came later.

classic fiberglass runabout boat photo image cockpit

Classic Donzi Marine fiberglass 18

Next up was the introduction of  14’ and 18’ variants of the original Sweet 16.  That brings us to this boat, the Donzi 18.

By the way, Donzi was still making less than 50 boats per year within a boat building factory leased out to Teleflex, but owned by Don Aronow. It was in 1985 or so, that another new ownership of Donzi moved it from 188thst and within a Don Arorow owned building on the east coast of Florida, to Sarasota, FL on the west coast of the state. There the production was expanded with more models and to about 350-400 boats per year, from 16 to 43 feet in length.

classic fiberglass seats cockpit donzi marine boat photo image runabout inboard outboard

Seating in a stock Classic Donzi Marine 18


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