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Ungainly but Cute!

This veritable, iconic gem – a 1968 Evinrude V4 Starflite 100S (affectionately known as the “Jumbo”) – is from a truly golden era of boating. The ’60s was the first full-on decade of the outboard horsepower wars, and while Mercury had managed to get the iconic inline-6 “Tower of Power” up to a then-unheard-of 125 hp for 1968, the Starflite 100S and its sibling, the Johnson Golden Meteor, had to soldier on for the parent company, Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC), until the new 115 hp was released for the ’69 model year.

1968 was the last year for the bulbous “Jumbo” profile, as for 1969, all the OMC V4s went to the more modern, triangle-cornered engine cover (which they used right up until the entire crossflow V4 series was discontinued in the late ’80s) and a through-prop exhaust – the 1968 Jumbo being the last large OMC engine with a shear pin-drive propeller and an exhaust snout under the cavitation plate.

The ’68 Jumbo was almost certainly a “dry run” for the new-model V4s, as the previous belt-driven Fairbanks-Morse distributor with two sets of breaker points (mounted atop the motor in the middle of the vee) was replaced by an under-flywheel distributor (stator) and an externally-mounted “pulse pack” (i.e. an early capacitor-discharge ignition system). Additionally, the old “bucket handle” lifting hoop, which folded down around the circumference of the flywheel, was deleted and replaced with a conventional lifting eye.

Anyone who ever ran a Jumbo would not have to be reminded about the dipsomaniac fuel consumption that would have merited entry to a 12-step programme – particularly on the pre-’66 models where both sets of carburetor jets (low and high speed) were adjustable. One mild turn towards the “rich” setting on the high-speed adjustment knob would have seen the standard 22-litre fuel tank emptied in about half an hour! And unusually for a V4-configuration engine, the Jumbos had a vertically-stacked 4-barrel inline carburetor (rather than the later, and more conventional, double-barrel horizonal carbs where the left-side barrel directly feeds the right-side cylinder and vie versa). With this vertical side-draft carb, the gushing cascade of fuel into the cylinders was far from an exact science.

One thing that was superb on these motors (and which Mercury laughed at and derided as a gimmick) was the electric gear shift, which was surprisingly durable and reliable – it was such a magnificent innovation, in fact, that BRP went back to it over 50 years later on the G2 E-Tec engines (not that it saved that product from oblivion).

The old Jumbos are a bit like the red-haired, freckle-faced, glasses-wearing stepchild, but a lot of people revered them and still remember them fondly. Bulky, cumbersome, ungainly styling made them look heavy, but none of them weighed over 125 kg. I like them and am still on the hunt for one to put in a collection – I think they have a presence and a certain arrogant haughtiness about them!

Danny Casey is highly experienced, undoubtedly idiosyncratic, and immensely knowledgeable about things mechanical, new or old.  His knowledge and passion are as a result of spending his whole life in or around anything power-driven – especially marine engines.  His passion for boating is second to none, with his life a montage of fabulous memories from decades spent in or around water and boats, both here and in Europe.  Danny has spent myriad years in the recreational marine industry in a varied career in which he has bamboozled colleagues and competitors alike with his well-honed insight. 

His mellifluous Irish accent, however, has at times been known to become somewhat less intelligible in occasional attempts at deliberate vagueness or when trying to prevent others from proffering a counter-argument or even getting a word in.  Frank and to-the-point, but with a heart of gold, it can be hard to convince Danny to put pen to paper to share his knowledge. Marine Business News is grateful for his contributions.  Connect with Danny through LinkedIn.

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