World’s coolest boats: Why the original Fairline Targa 33 oozes 80s cool

Each month we pick out an iconic boat that can lay claim to the title of world’s coolest boat. This month, we take a closer look at the original Fairline Targa 33…

​​All of the big names in the British boat building industry began as the vision of a few very talented men.

Robert Braithwaite started Sunseeker under the rather less glamorous Poole Powerboats tag, David King oversaw the giant that became Princess Yachts as the result of a failed boat hire business, and Sam Newington took over his father’s marina, based in a gravel pit in Oundle and thought building boats sounded like a good idea.

For the first couple of decades, you could almost feel those founders’ fingerprints all over every model. New versions were less the result of market research, more the result of gut feel about what the market wanted. And occasionally, what they themselves wanted.

The Fairline Targa 33 is a perfect example. It was the first of what became a very successful Targa line for Fairline right up to the present day, and there’s a very simple reason why that particular model came into existence.

Sam and his wife Briony owned a holiday home in Port Grimaud in the south of France. At the time, the largest sportscruiser Fairline built was the 26ft Sunfury and 26ft Sportsfury (same hull, but the Sportfury traded two of the Sunfury’s berths for a lower sportier look).

Sam and Briony wanted something bigger to keep at the house, and so Bernard Olesinski, back then the man responsible for every Fairline from the late 1970s onwards (John Bennet penned earlier boats), was commissioned to come up with something suitable.

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The result was rather special. Combining some of the sportier elements of the Sportfury (like the rakish forward sloped radar arch) with the practicality of the Sunfury, all wrapped up in a 33ft hull, the world’s first Fairline Targa was born.

Twin V8 petrol engines were an option, the largest 7.4 litre ‘big block’ V8s delivered 40-knot performance. But the twin Volvo Penta AQAD 41 200hp diesels hit a sweet spot of a 30+ knots top end with good fuel efficiency.

Launched in 1984, the boat initially had an open plan U-shaped dinette that you scrambled over to reach a double berth in the bow, plus a mid cabin back under the cockpit.

Three years later an alternative Touring layout option was launched which moved the dinette to one side, leaving room for a separate forward cabin and two dedicated sleeping cabins.

It was a hit, the original layout was quietly forgotten, and the boat went on to become one of Fairline’s most successful models, with 357 of them sold up until 1991.

Fairline Targa 33 specifications

Year: 1984
LOA: 32ft 10in / 10m
Beam: 11ft 6in / 3.5m
Power: Twin Volvo Penta AQAD 41 200hp diesel
Top speed: 32 knots
Price when launched: £70,000


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