|Deadrise/Transom||24 deg.||Water Cap||
|Max Headroom||N/A||Bridge Clearance||
|Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.|
|Std. Power||Not Available|
|Tested Power||2 x 570-hp Ilmor MV8|
2 x MerCruiser 8.2 MAG ECT Bravo One X
2 x MerCruiser 8.2 MAG High Output ECT Bravo One X
2 x MerCruiser 8.2 MAG High Output ECT Bravo One X
2 x Mercury Racing 565 Bravo One XR DTS
2 x Ilmor MV8 570 Imco SCX Xtreme Advantage Drive
At 35’3” (10.74 m) LOA this 353 FAS³Tech is big, but she’s still surprisingly easy to handle.
Typically go-fast boats are made to do exactly that… Go fast. The recipe is a simple one, take a long, narrow hull, add massive engines with straight pipes, move levers forward as desired. Everything else is typically inconsequential, especially the fit and finish of the interior.
Formula decided to take a different route. Rather than make its performance boats the fastest on the planet, they chose to make them go fast enough while providing the luxury, upscale features, and fit and finish that they are so well known for. The result is the FAS³Tech line. While these boats may not crack 100 mph barrier, for most of us 80 mph will do just fine while it happens in one of the best looking boats in class on the planet.
Formula 353 FASTech floor plan.
Imron Graphics. Imron is a relatively expensive paint and the process to apply it can be difficult and time-consuming. But in the end, the looks are stunning and that's why Formula goes to the trouble of using it. But it doesn't just use it to change the color of the hull, they use Imron for the graphics.
Adjustable Foot Rests. While the high-performance McLeod bucket seats do not have a fore and aft adjustment, the foot rests do. In this manner a captain of any height will find comfort while operating the 353.
Ilmor Powerplants. Ilmor has been known for powering recreational and high-performance nearly a decade before this 353 FAS³Tech had the first-ever application of a crossover engine developed by Ilmor, the 570-hp 454 small block.
This 353 FAS³Tech is styled much like a missile. She has a narrow 8'3" (2.51 m) beam that seems to emphasize her length even more. Attention to cockpit and interior styling detail is exactly what we've come to expect from the design team at Formula. A hot boat should have bold interior trim and colors and the 353 has them -- but they are tasteful. That is to say, painted on flames, neon colors and rhinestone trim will not be found here.
The cockpit is laid out for five so everyone is guaranteed a thrilling ride.
Under the bench seat is room for storage, the main battery switches, and circuit breakers.
The sun pad measures 5' x 6' (1.5 m x 1.8 m). The swim platform comes out 15” (38.1 cm) from the transom.
The bow is as much a showpiece as the rest of the 353 with its Imron graphics, which run straight across the dash and all the way to the stern.
The Formula Recipe
The Formula brand was born back in the heady early days of the sport of offshore powerboat racing with pioneers like Don Aronow and Jim Wynn, beating the hell out of their kidneys racing from Miami to Nassau. The Porter family, which has owned Formula for decades and built it into a world-class brand, is no stranger to racing. Company president Scott Porter is a former offshore World Champion and for years Formulas were campaigned on racing circuits all over the world. Today, because of the world economic situation Formula is taking a more subdued approach to racing, but its commitment to building high-quality, plush, high-performance boats is unabated.
The new FAS³Tech line is denoted by its new hull design that incorporates three separate running surfaces produced by two steps built into the hull. The “steps” actually serve to force air under the hull and thereby reduce surface friction for an even faster ride than a boat with a smooth deep-V. Some builders put in one step, but Formula puts in two.
Strength Requires Weight
So now we have the stepped hull and the horses doing their job, but we’re slowing the boat down a bit because it’s relatively heavy… 9,500 lbs. (4,309 kgs.), which is 1,000 – 1,500 lbs. heavier than most, but not all, of the other high-performance boats. So what makes the 353 so heavy and why does Formula do this? The weight comes from the construction methods, added materials, and to a lesser extent, the amenities.
Rather than use a traditional stringer system, Formula utilizes a separately made fiberglass grid system that gets chemically bonded to the bilge. Because the boat will be hitting square ones at 80 mph or more, the hull laminate is sold fiberglass and tough. The result is a heavier boat, but a stronger and beefier one, and that means a more solid riding boat as well as a safer boat. It also means that the 353 might be slower than some go-fast boats that are lighter.
In these three shots, you can see the reason for the added weight in Formula’s FAS³Techs. The first shows the reinforcing grid system suspended over the hull. In the center, the chemical bond is being placed onto the hull. And finally, the two parts are joined with the strength of one.
Speed Requires Strength
We can’t stress enough the importance of having a strong hull when operating at these high speeds. At 85 mph, waves are not soft, rather they are more like concrete without the rebar. That is why the shape of the hull, the deadrise and the strength of the boat are all so important. Picture your car going over speed bumps every 15 feet while traveling at 70 mph and you’ll get an idea of the punishment a boat like this has to endure.
Engine serial numbers 1 and 2 are installed in this first ever application of the 570-hp 454 small blocks by Ilmor.
The lower units are IMCO SCX Xtreme Advantage Drives with a 1.5:1 gear ratio.
And Then, The Amenities
Let’s not forget that the 353 FAS³Tech is still a Formula. It didn’t just make an empty cabin in the hopes of keeping it light. The 353 FAS³Tech has a plush cabin flush with perks. Starting at the bow with an Ultraleather double bow berth, then an Ultraleather wrap-around lounge seat that can convert to another double berth with filler cushions, a removable Corian cocktail table, an entertainment center with polished stainless steel sink and Corian countertop, a dual-voltage refrigerator and a private head compartment.
Rather than keep it Spartan, Formula fitted out the 353 FAS³Tech cabin with a double berth, wrap around sofa, entertainment center and head. Far forward is a double bunk. The table stows and the two bench seats make into another double. To port is the modest galley and to starboard the head.
Seen from the front, the cabin is small, but serves its purpose for the occasional overnight.
Sitting at the helm, with the 353’s long and narrow foredeck, makes you feel like you’re sitting at the controls of a missile. But it is a comfortable missile. Dual wrap-around McLeod electrically adjusted seats are built for sustained high-speed operation. These McLeod seats have been developed over years of offshore racing use. And both the driver and observer get an electrically adjustable McLeod footrest. Any height captain will feel right at home on the 353 FAS³Tech.
The McLeod seats keeps the captain and observer secure when shooting through waves. The seats drop down and then they become leaning posts. While the seats have no fore and aft adjustments, the foot rests are adjustable.
The helm is laid out with a minimum of gauges so that the eyes are not drawn to the panel for an extended period. Dual Livorsi engine controls can be seen to the right and just ahead are the trim tab and outdrive switches.
Formula went with a carbon fiber panel with a plastic overlay for protection and the combination really adds to the looks of the 353 FAS³Tech.
Optional Engine: Ilmor MV8 570-hp
For over 30 years, Ilmor has been engineering and building engines for Formula1, Indy Car and NASCAR racing in addition to other categories of competition. The result is a company that understands the importance of light weight, high power-to-weight ratios, and dependability.
Special Conditions. When a boat like the Formula 353 Fas3TECH launches off a wave at 70 mph and the props catch air, the load instantly disappears and the engine revs for a second or so even with the best throttle man. When the boat slams back down in the briny the load is re-applied just as fast. That's why not only the fastest engines, but also the most durable ones come from a race engine manufacturer such as Ilmor.
The Ilmor MV8 570-hp engine can be customized with stainless steel pipes. Note the upside down oil filter to help reduce mess.
Engine Details. Ilmor uses the GM 454 (7.4 L) small block GM casting but that is about all. Even the GM cylinder heads are modified by Ilmor and all of the rest of the engine's components are engineered and made by Ilmor. Steel and aluminum components such as cranks, pistons and rods are forged and far stronger than in the conventional engine. The MV8 has variable valve timing for low end torque, high-end RPM horsepower, and is relative fuel-efficient in the mid-range. The engine is a 90-degree V-8 that weights 830 lbs. (376 kgs.) with fluids. It runs on 91 octane fuel.
Ilmor engines can be painted nearly any color the customer desires. Many customers make their engine room a showcase to proudly display this powerhouse.
Special Oiling System. To handle the arduous conditions of running the engines close to the red line for extended periods of time, Ilmor added a customized oiling system for the pistons that sprays oil in. This system has its own pressure-relief valve and thermostat. The cooling system is closed as one might expect in this kind of boat.
The 570-hp is achieved at 6000 RPMs, a wider range than some competitive engines. It red lines at 6100 RPMs.
Small Block. Since it is a 7.4 liter engine it naturally has a slightly smaller footprint than the 8.2 GM block. This is an important consideration in the engine room of a boat like the 353 Fas3TECH because higher-performance boats are notoriously narrow. Further, at only 830 lbs. (376 kgs.) it has a far better power-to-weight ratio than competitive alternatives.
No Blowers. Importantly, the MV8 produces its 570-hp with natural aspiration. That means no supercharger or turbocharger to add weight, heat (now we need an inner cooler) and lubrication complications. All marine engineers know that natural aspiration is the best way to go in any engine for durability. Virtually all marine diesels have gone to turbos to meet CARB emission requirements, so it is comforting to know that the Ilmor MV8 meets CARB emission standards without a turbo.
IMCO SCX Xtreme Advantage Drive
A cutaway of the IMCO SCX lower unit showing one-piece gears, oversize bearings, and SCX billet pinion pack.
The Weakest Link. The Achilles heel of any high-performance boat is its drive units. They are probably the biggest reason for breakdowns in these vessels. The lower units are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. When propellers exert themselves on the mass of water, turning 6000 RPMs there is tremendous stress transmitted from the props through the shafts and gears right back to the origin of the power. With the shafts wanting to go one way and the water not wanting to move, damage and mechanical failure can easily occur.
Throttle Man. All of this is exacerbated when a boat is going 70 mph and the props are repeatedly jumping out of the water then being plunged back down into it. This is why offshore race boats have a "throttle man" sitting in the middle seat with the driver at high right. The throttles are also at his right and when the boat becomes airborne he pulls back on them to lower the engines' RPMs in order to protect the lower unit gears and shafts. When the props are once again solidly in the water, the throttle man firewalls the throttles once again.
At left is the raw gear casting ready to be worked. At right is the finished gear after all machining has been completed.
In most recreational high-performance boats the skipper is also the throttle man. He must steer the boat, navigate, and be the throttle man all at the same time. Is it then any surprise that lower units in high-performance boats take tremendous punishment?
The IMCO Solution. That is why Formula has specified "IMCO SCX Xtreme Advantage Drives" to mate with the Ilmor 570-hp engines. These lower units have been engineered and built specifically for the applications where conventional lower units get into trouble. While its primary market is for offshore race boats, a secondary one is recreational high-performance boats.
The five gears in the SCX lower unit are all attached to the hub on three sides instead of two for extra strength.
Replaces Bravo. IMCO literally started from scratch to engineer its SCX propulsion system from the water up. As a result the IMCO SCX lower units fit all standard Bravo gimbals. Their components are heavy-duty, over-sized and specifically designed for this application.
Details. The roller bearings in the system are over-size, tapered and made of forged alloys. Likewise for the shafts and the gears. The lower unit has a 5 quart oil capacity and there is an internal water cooling system built into the bullet. Several of the housings are made out of billet stock. The bullet is designed to be as narrow as possible and efficient. The units have a one year warranty.
This Formula 353 FAS³Tech has an LOA of 35'3" (10.7 m), a beam of 8'3" (2.51 m), and a draft of 36''(91.4 cm). With an empty weight of 9,500 lbs. (4,309 kg), 80 gallons of fuel (303 L), 15 gallons (56.8 L) of water and two people onboard we had a test weight of 10,650 lbs. (4,834 kg).
With 1.5 : 1 reduction on short drives with Mercury Racing Maximus 15.25 x 25, five-bladed props, these 570-hp engines reached a top speed at 6000 rpm. At that speed we were running at 85.2 mph burning an average of 88 gph giving us a range of 130 miles. Best cruise came in at 3500 rpm and 46.2 mph. That reduced the fuel burn to 27 gph and increased range to 229 miles while still maintaining a 10% reserve.
She presents a 14-degree bow rise upon acceleration and because the bow was so far ahead of the helm that did cause a brief loss of visibility until getting on plane. And she's a little bit slow to come up on plane until the turbos kick in, but once they do kick then the 353 really starts to accelerate. She also likes trim, and lots of it. Bring those drives up to about seven on the gauge, and then she'll really start to fly.
She rolls 13.5-degrees into the turn and by sheer design she's made to go straight and fast. Turning is best done at a slower pace, from a safety of the occupants standpoint, but the 353 itself can pretty much take whatever is dished out. She's also very contented with wave penetration and remains quite comfortable blasting through waves with her narrow entry. And when slowing down to keep pace with the camera boat, it became painfully clear that she had so much more to give.
The base MSRP of the 353 Fas3TECH with twin MerCruiser 8.2 L engines and Bravo One drives is $336,900. The builder's "Manufacturer's Super Saver Price" (MSSP) is $269,520 -- a $67,380 reduction. Upgrade to the 430-hp HO version of the 8.2 engine and the MSSP is $282,660.
Formula offers Mercury Racing engines rated from 520-hp to 565-hp ranging from $306,070 to $352,400, MSSP.
Interestingly, the Ilmor MV8 570-hp engine, with the IMCO SCX drive, is slightly less at $351,890, MSSP.
Formula also has MSSP pricing on many of the options on this boat. For example the Corsa Captain's Call Exhaust system drops from $6,020 to $4,820, MSSP, a $1,200 reduction.
So if getting there ahead of the rest of the pack and arriving in first class style are part of the float plan, then the Formula 353 FAS³Tech might be just the boat to fill the need. She is definitely not for everyone -- and that's a big part of her appeal.
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc|
= Standard = Optional
|Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.|