Formula Ends Up King of the Hill - 05/13/2009

As the boating industry faces its toughest challenge ever in the super-exclusive niche of high-performance boats one brand is emerging as the ultimate survivor – Formula. Ironically, in 1962 the Formula 233 -- in large part -- started it all. It's direct descendent 47 years later is the Formula 353 Fas3Tech and it is perhaps the most classiest, most reliable, and well-built high-performance boat on the water today. While the 353 is certainly adequately powered with a pair of 496 Mags pushing the 63-66 mph range, it can solidly handle power all the way up to twin 600 hp, and will approach 90 mph with the ITS drive setback application.

Formula 353
The Formula 353 Fas3Tech has bloodlines that reach back to the beginning of the modern era of offshore racing -- and class, something often in short supply in high-performance boats.

See 353 Fas3Tech test and video --

It All Started with Aronow

It is important to remember that the Godfather of offshore racing -- Don Aronow -- founded Formula in 1962 in Miami, Florida. The original 233 deep-V hull design was built at his direction and later earned notable victories on the national offshore racing circuit. Formula was the first of Aronow’s boat companies. It was the charismatic Aronow who popularized the new breed of high-performance speedsters and he sold his boats to presidents, kings, sheiks, Indy race car drivers, and more than a few Goodfellows.

Aronow sold the Formula company a few years later without a non-compete and quickly started another boat brand that looked suspiciously like his first. What followed was a succession of brands over the years as Aronow discovered that he could make more money starting and selling boat companies than could actually selling boats. Magnum, Donzi, Cigarette and several other brands all started off in Aronow’s 188th St. North Miami “factory.”

Formula and Beatles
Aronow with the Beatles in a Formula in 1965.

All of the boats were based on his first deep-V Formula 233 design, but were simply longer and wider, and equipped with ever more powerful engines as time went on. It wasn’t long until there were imitators and by the 1980s there were dozens of go-fast builders.

World in Transition

But things have gone full circle. Today most brands of high-performance boats are gone, some that do remain are built in little more than garages here and there with little or no infrastructure, and only a couple are actually manufactured with the depth of engineering, quality control, fit and finish, and aftermarket support that a buyer of such a boat would expect. Of those, Formula heads the list in our opinion.

Formula 353
The 353 has a cozy berth for two in the bow forward of the wrap around seating you see here, which can also be made into bunks.

The 353, while a serious performer, is no stripped-down go-fast fiberglass shell papered over with a vinyl interior. That is not how Formula builds boats. This boat was built for high performance, but the lucky owner will not lack for cabin and cockpit amenities, from the galley to the entertainment center to the fully-enclosed head compartment.

The 353 is available with Formula’s Platinum series premium graphics, as well as Gold and standard Silver series as well, so factory graphics are available in a wide variety of styles to match an individual’s taste and pocketbook.

Speaking of the customer’s pocketbook, the 353 FAS3Tech is also available in a “Sport” configuration which means it has a few less standard amenities, and some options are not available, but it is lower priced. We think this boat will appeal to someone who is looking to get into the Formula line, or the customer who has moved beyond the 292 FAS3Tech, but is not quite ready or able to make the leap to a fully equipped 353.

Formula 353
Capt. Ron wrung out the Formula 353 in an exhaustive test.

Our Test Numbers

We tested the 353 powered with twin 470-hp 500 EFI MerCruisers and got a top speed of 74.4 mph at 5300 rpms. Now, if you think that is slow, let us remind you that back in the late 1970s, just after Don Aronow retired from active offshore racing, and men like Doc Magoon were winning the Offshore World Championships, the top speed of the boats then was about 74 mph in the races. And these great race drivers thought that was plenty fast! Our best cruise speed recorded was 53.2 mph, getting 1.1 mpg, which is not bad considering there are 940 horses in the stern. To see the complete test, click here…

Formula 353
The 353 Fas3Tech is a crowd pleaser wherever it goes and it is just as versatile as one’s imagination.

With summer just a few days away there is not much time to jump into one of these sleek, head-turning speedsters with the bloodlines that started it all. To find out what is available and how much they cost, contact the factory at…