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Used Boat Review: Cruisers 420 Sports Coupe

Photography By Charlie Clark.

Photography By Charlie Clark.

Watching a company like Cruisers Yachts, which originated as the Thompson Brothers Boat Manufacturing Company  in 1904 in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, grow from a small builder of wooden boats to a renowned builder of fiberglass yachts from 23 to 60 feet must have been a joy for the Thompson family. In the 1950s, the Thompson Brothers shifted to building larger, wood lapstrake cabin cruisers, and in 1965 they adopted fiberglass technology.

The company’s dedication to building with the latest materials and technologies, serving owners who were accustomed to luxurious spaces and furnishings, came clearly into focus for me when I attended the introduction of the Cruisers 420 Sports Coupe in 2009 (two years later, the company changed the model number, not the length, to the 430 Sports Coupe). In many ways, the 420 SC was an evolution of Cruiser’s 390 Sports Coupe, the first model with a hardtop enclosure on three sides, closing off the opening between the windshield and the hardtop found on their Express models.

Overhead hatches pump air into the saloon. Photo by Charlie Clark.

Overhead hatches pump air into the saloon. Photo by Charlie Clark.

At a distance, it is easy to mistake the 390 SC for the newer 420 SC. The beautifully raked windshield, the six inset hull windows, the generously sized cockpit, the deep and wide swim platform: all contribute to a look that originated on the 390 SC. But the increased flare at the bow of the 420 SC (portending a drier ride in big seas), the larger foredeck and sunpad which features two flip-up chaise lounge backs, the opening center windshield panel , and the sliding hatch in the hardtop that makes standup pass-through traffic much more convenient are all visual cues that distinguish the larger model. And both exhibit a hardtop that extends far enough aft to provide shade for guests in the ample cockpit.

Whether you step aboard the 420 or the 390, both designs offer two transom storage lockers, one a truly voluminous locker for lines, fenders, and water toys. Like the 390 SC, the newer 420 SC has plenty of cockpit seating, J-shaped in the 420 SC, along the forward and starboard sides and across most of the transom, served by two tables that can be part of a sunpad, plus a portside walkthrough to the swim platform. Care-free synthetic teak decking is used on outside decks.

Engine access doesn’t get much easier than that. Photo by Charlie Clark.

Engine access doesn’t get much easier than that. Photo by Charlie Clark.

The L-shaped cockpit galley just a bit forward and to port is complete, with room on top for a freshwater sink with a Corian insert, modestly sized Corian countertop for food prep, and an optional grill with a large cover that serves as a heat reflector. Storage below is generous, with room for an optional refrigerator/freezer. Perhaps the best feature—two stainless steel handrails to help make lunch on the fly or bending down to fetch a cold drink that much safer. Some models were also equipped with a removable TV on a short mast just above the sink, within easy sight of the tables and seating in the aft cockpit, perfect for movie nights aboard.

The cockpit sole of the 420 SC has a wide power-assisted engine compartment hatch that is hinged aft, allowing easy access to routine maintenance points. A three-step ladder makes entry and egress that much easier. Inside, it’s obvious that the twin Volvo Penta diesels close-coupled to IPS units, allow more room in the accommodations and saloon.

The helm deck is divided into portside seating, which can double as an aft-facing lounge, and the double-wide helm bench to starboard. With the exception of the pillars that support the hardtop, sightlines from the helm are spectacular all around. The dash is large enough for two 12-inch Raytheon MFDs, which was the builder’s choice for factory installed electronics. Upgrading to newer technology should be easy, given the size of this dash, which has plenty of room left over for an autopilot and VHF. Cruisers includes a stainless steel handrail on the lower edge to steady those climbing  down from the tall helm bench.

A footrest and a flip-up bolster for the helm side of the fore-and-aft adjustable double bench gives comfort to drivers of all heights.

There are molded steps on the helm console near the centerline sliding companionway door that allow access to the foredeck for sun worshippers or line handlers. With the aforementioned sliding overhead hatch on the centerline open, and a grab rail for steadying your step, this really is the best way to go forward—usable side decks are present, and equipped with handrails on both sides, but the 420 SC sacrifices some usable width to the larger dimensions of the aft deck and helm deck.

Carpeted steps with Wenge wood treads lead down into the saloon, which has 6 feet 5 inches of headroom. Two half-moon hatches on the foredeck bring illumination to the saloon, as do the hullside windows. Immediately aft and to port, there’s a door leading to a mid-cabin that comes complete with its own separate combo head/shower and vanity with sink. This was a breakthrough idea in its day, particularly for a boat this size, made possible by the use of Volvo Penta IPS drives and a more compact engine compartment.

A built-in glass-front bar locker is immediately to starboard in the saloon, keeping it handy to the cockpit for entertaining. Just forward, the door to the head compartment, which has its own separate shower enclosure, is finished in the same Wenge wood that warms the saloon and staterooms. Incidentally, this compartment serves both master stateroom and day head functions.

Enclosing the cockpit in canvas is a nice touch (read: no bugs). Photo by Charlie Clark.

Enclosing the cockpit in canvas is a nice touch (read: no bugs). Photo by Charlie Clark.

Cruisers provides more overhead storage with beautifully finished doors above and on both sides of the portside lounge. Two movable saloon stools, that store under the table, let two more join the dining table at meal times. The saloon and staterooms are cooled by a 28,000 BTU air conditioning unit. It is separate and distinct from the 28,000 BTU unit used to cool the helm and aft decks.

The master stateroom forward has a queen size island berth that is easy to get into and out of, with three drawers  beneath for stowage. Hanging lockers flank the entrance. The midcabin serves as the VIP and has two long single berths that become a massive double with an insert. Both staterooms are typically equipped with smaller Sony flatscreen TVs.

Propulsion for the 420 SC is almost exclusively Volvo Penta IPS. One unit I found in Florida had gas engines which produce 420 horsepower each. Cruising speed was said to be 26 knots, and top speed was said to be 32 knots. Some units had twin Volvo Penta inboard diesel engines, which will raise the asking price accordingly. While writing this story, I found six 420 Sports Coupes in model years ranging from 2009 to 2011 for sale online. Prices ranged from $298,000 to $299,000. If you’re in the market for the same boat, only newer, a search for the 430 Sports Coupes produced prices ranging from $449,000 to $469,000 for boats from the 2013 model year.

According to the builder, the follow-on 430 Sports Coupe was retired in 2015 to make way for a new line of Cantius cruisers. But if you’re looking for a fast family cruiser, I’d start with the 420 Sports Coupe. It’s flowing lines, comfortable above and below deck living areas, and luxurious amenities make it timeless.

See a photo gallery of the Cruisers 420 Sports Coupe here. ▶

Power & Motoryacht spoke to four brokers who have Cruisers Yachts express cruisers listed on BoatQuest.com, and here’s what they had to say about everything from inventory levels, to engine type, to the value of soft goods, and more. Learn more about a red-hot market and how the boat you want fits into it here. ▶

  • LOA 43'0"
  • Beam 13'6"
  • Draft 3'8"
  • Displacement 23,500 lb.
  • Fuel 300 gal.
  • Water 80 gal.
  • Power 2/370-hp Volvo Penta IPS500s
  • Years Built 2009 to 2015
  • Price Range $298,000 to $469,000
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