Top 5 Reasonably-Priced Inboard Boats

Power boat off California coastline at sunset
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If you are just getting into water sports you have likely been shocked by the price tag on new inboard boats. If you’re currently in that boat (no pun intended) then turn that frown upside down, because you can get your first inboard boat without having to take out a second mortgage on the house.

There are inboard boats out there that are easily attained for a price that is attainable and reasonable for someone just getting into boat ownership. Here, you are not going to find a solid boat with V Drive, and it is likely going to be old—even decades old. You should not let this deter you. Well-maintained inboard boats hold their value like crazy, which means you can buy any boat on this list with confidence and you will likely be able to sell it for the same price you paid later on down the road.

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Mastercraft Stars and Stripes

This is the undisputed king of budget-friendly first inboards. Mastercraft manufactured this work of art in the mid-'70s well through the ’80s and you can feel comfortable buying any year model.

The greatest thing about Mastercrafts, though, are their owners. To put it simply, they are freaks when it comes to maintenance and upkeep. That means nine times out of ten you are getting a boat that has been babied and well kept. In fact, within the Mastercraft owner community, there are competitions to see who has the most well preserved vintage MC. Perhaps you will join the ranks when you buy your first Stars and Stripes model.

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Supra Comp TS6 (1986-1992)

A close runner up to the Mastercraft, the Supra Comp TS6 has a nice flow and can be modified to add sound systems, towers, and the like.

The 351 Pleasurecraft engine that comes standard in these boats provides ample torque to pull an entire team of skiers at once. In fact, just looking at these boats transports you to a time when watersports were much simpler.

One word of caution though—if you are looking at buying a TS6M, make sure to inspect the engine mounts. These models were mounted to wood stringers which obviously wear over time. This is a problem that will eventually have to be addressed, which can be a costly undertaking. If someone has already fixed it, then you’re golden.

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Ski Nautique (1975-1986)

Vintage Ski Nautiques are incredible. They are living testimony to the fact that Nautique has always been ahead of its time.

It’s almost like stepping into a vintage Mercedes—all of the luxuries and amenities just get better with age. By 1986, Ski Nautique was already putting heaters and handheld showers into their boats when other manufacturers were trying to figure out the nuances of proper engine ratio.

Any Ski Nautique you find in your price range is a no brainer—you really can’t go wrong. Granted, some minor maintenance may be required, but you are guaranteed to get a boat that will last you for a while.

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Malibu Skier (1990-1993)

Malibu are they are a boat company with a penchant for flair, and the early Malibu Skiers are no exception. The Malibu skier is a fantastic option if you are looking for something just a little bit different. They have become somewhat rare in the eastern US, though you can still find them from time to time. If you live on the west coast, you can find them pretty readily.

These boats are solid performers through and through, but one word of caution—they are a little more maintenance-intensive than the other options on this list. That means you should change the oil religiously and do a full engine run down every month. If you stay on top of it, you can avoid the annoying nickel-and-dime problems that can arise with these models.

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Ski Supreme (1985-1990)

Ski Supreme was the workhorse of ski boats back in the golden age of waterskiing. These boats were solidly constructed and featured a standard 351 Indmar engine. They may not have the luxuries that came standard with Nautiques, but what they lack in minor amenities, they more than make up for in heart.

These boats were designed to take a beating and even the older models show minimal signs of wear. The best part about these, though, is how easy and cheap they are to work on. The 351 Indmar engine uses pretty much all standard Ford parts from that era, which means just about any auto parts store will carry what you need. In effect, you spend less time waiting for parts to come in the mail and more time on the water.