Phantom Venom: Classic 1970s sportsboat set for comeback

A classic 1960s speedboat could be making a comeback this year, after a Plymouth firm revealed plans to build a new Phantom Venom

Phantom powerboats were a mainstay of the 1970s boating scene, with this sporty design excelling both as a racer and as a family day boat.

It all began with the Phantom 16, which founder Steve Baker designed in 1969 and drove to victory in the 1971 Class 3 Offshore Powerboat Championship.

Soon after, the Phantom 16 was made available to buy as a leisure boat, and 28 models were sold in the first year of production alone.

The range also went on to spawn an 18ft variant, which was just as effective at winning races and capturing the imaginations of boat owners across the country.

Phantom speed boats racingOne such boater was Iain Johnson, who vividly recalls watching Phantoms racing off Salcombe in the 1980s.

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This made such a big impression on Iain that he has recently set about reviving the Phantom brand, which disappeared into obscurity in the 1990s.

Having bought the original moulds for the Phantom 16 and 18, Iain has founded a new yard called Phantom Sports Boats with the aim of getting this great name back on the water.

Classic Phantom sports boat“The marine market is very much one of evolution rather than revolution, and I wanted to create a boat that was revolutionary and that people would be excited to own,” he told the Plymouth Herald.

Introducing the Phantom Venom

From his base in Plymouth, Iain plans to launch a new model later this year called the Phantom Venom.

Based on the original Phantom 18 hull, this model will be fitted with a 200hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 outboard and prices will start at £42,000 including engine – a remarkable figure, when you consider that the engine alone costs more than £17,000 to buy.

Owners wishing to fit their own outboard will also be able to buy the boat ex-engine at a price of £24,500.

In terms of performance, Iain expects that the 200hp version will be good for around 70mph (61 knots).

Construction methods include a resin-infused hull for added strength, while colours and design choices details will be broadly customisable.

Iain is currently putting the finishing touches to his demonstrator model, which he plans to display at the 2016 Southampton Boat Show, alongside designs for a new Phantom 16.

However, he expects to export up to 75% of the models he builds after conducting market research at the recent Dubai and Miami boat shows.

The project is self-funded, but initial support has come from Plymouth University’s Marine Innovation Centre (MARIC).

Deborah Burhouse of MARIC was full of praise for the Phantom Venom project, telling the Plymouth Herald: “Iain’s dedication and openness to new ideas should be celebrated, as he has done a great job turning this dream into a real business.”


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