True Blue Sea-Doo: 1970 Sea-Doo 372

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Well, maybe true blue isn’t accurate since these only came in yellow! This is a 1970 Sea-Doo 372 and it’s in Florence, Alabama. This blue bayou cruiser is listed on eBay with a price of $6,000! I’m not kidding, six-grand. These are rare to see now so maybe they’re onto something with that price. This one has been in dry storage since 1974 but it runs and is “in good shape”, according to the seller, and you can see that from the photos.

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The Sea-Doo was originally made from 1968 to 1970 and, as you probably knew, they were meant to mimic the experience of riding a Ski-Doo snowmobile on the water. Again, I kid you not. You’ve surely all heard what the inventor, Clayton Jacobsen II, was famous for: the Jet-Ski! Yes, his idea of mimicking the effect of being on a motorcycle on the water was licensed to Kawasaki and the rest is history; a very long and successful history. But, even before that, the famous Canadian company, Bombardier, had an agreement with Mr. Jacobsen to produce what would be the first personal watercraft, a sit-down version, which became the Sea-Doo.

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Speaking of sitting down, I’m assuming that this is the seller showing us that this is actually a working Sea-Doo. The first model, the 320, came out in 1968 and it was, believe it or not, air-cooled! Ha, no, really! It had a 318cc, two-cycle 18-hp single-cylinder Rotax snowmobile engine that was provided by Roy Halverson, Bombardier’s snowmobile distributor in my home town; Duluth, Minnesota. What a tangled web! Anyway, the model 320 wasn’t real successful because the air-cooled engine needed more air flow than could be provided while still keeping things dry. So, in 1969 they came out with the model 372 which had an aluminum two-cylinder, 23.5 hp water-cooled engine and that solved a lot of the problems from the previous version. Here’s an old ad on YouTube video showing the Sea-Doo in action.

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But, the new engine was heavy (67 lbs), and also most of the Sea-Doos were sold on the east coast and the salt water was making things tricky; they had a lot of problems with them corroding. Not to mention, a hot-starting issue that caused a few of them to explode. Yeah, that’s never good. Once Jacobsen delivered the original prototype to Bombardier and got a fat check for it, they cut him out of the picture. They were so involved with snowmobiles at the time that the Sea-Doo didn’t get the attention that it deserved, so in 1970 they pulled the plug on it. It wouldn’t resurface again, so to speak, until 1988. In the meantime, Jacobsen got his patent back in 1971 and sold it to Kawasaki and it evolved into the Jet-Ski. Whew, what a tale!

But, if you’re still awake, this is a really important part of the history of personal watercraft. Sure, this one has been repainted blue, but that should be relatively simple to change it back to yellow. Have you ever ridden a Sea-Doo? I have not but I would sure like to get one someday!

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  1. jim s

    seller has the same unit listed twice for some reason. from the ID plate seller is holding the max weight limit is 200lbs. i wonder if they are going to sell the green one also? thanks for the information on the history of these. great find.

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  2. HoA Howard AMember

    My old man picked up a couple of Yamaha PWC’s years ago of this vintage. Don’t be confused, they have come a long way, and the old Yamaha’s were junk. They were fun, while they ran, but constant trouble, and remember, when they foul a plug, you can’t just walk home. I’ve seen many an older PWC being pulled behind a regular boat. Cool find, but do yourself a favor, and let this one go. If you want a good PWC, get a newer one.

    Like 0
  3. William H

    Odd that there are two and both have been repainted. Maybe they were an attraction at a lake camp for teens… you know, like Camp Crystal Lake.

    I have owned numerous Jet Skis over the years. Some stand up, some sit down, but never owned a Sea Doo. I had some friends that had a couple though. I did get a Kawasaki 750 SS the first year they came out and, the Sea Doos weren’t even on the same level back then. Didn’t take us long to figure out how easy it was to hop up the 750 SS’s. We would hauls ours to the coast during bad weather so we would have big waves in the surf to jump. Back then they were more like dirt bikes on the water compared to the ones of today. Now they’re huge, more like small ridable boats, and seat up to 3 people. Still fun to cruise around on on a hot summer day.

    Like 0

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