Jet Boat: 1978 Eliminator Sprint

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Jet boat racing is one of those sports I know very little about, but find absolutely intriguing. The premise of ripping through narrow channels in a tiny boat with a huge motor hung off the back just seems like the kind of activity that you should try at once in your life, but the risk of self-immolation has always kept me on the sidelines. Regardless, this rare 1978 Eliminator Sprint is the stuff of either your dreams or nightmares depending on your love of danger, and the seller notes it sports a 500 b.h.p. Lincoln 460 out back that can propel the boat to 80 m.p.h. on the open water. How nuts is that? Find it here on eBay where bidding is at $8,100 with no reserve.

The seller notes that the motivation behind the sale is to build a boat that helps him reach 100 m.p.h. on the water, an admirable life goal is you measure your life by how fast you can rip by buoys. The listing is quite detailed and describes a boat that hasn’t seen much use since the engine was built. The engine is described as being “fresh” in 2018 with maybe 30 hours of use on it, and what a build it is. The body is said to be in fine shape as well, benefiting from indoor storage when not in use in a climate-controlled setting, with no crazing noted on the hull and just some minor scratches listed as cosmetic flaws.

The engine features a tunnel ram intake with 2X4BBL 600 Edelbrock carbs. Other upgrades include a JG Berkley pump with SS impeller that’s been polished inside and a new place diverter. Just look at this monster! Even if it’s not the powerful jet boat out there, this is one intimidating mill. The seller notes that the 80 m.p.h. speed can be maintained all day long with one passenger; the max speed drops to 70 m.p.h. with three to four passengers, but again, it can comfortably maintain these speeds all day long. Mostly, I want to hear an audio clip of this Eliminator at full chat. It has to make some serious ruckus.

The seller lists a few other extras, including a water-proof mooring cover and the competition trailer you see in the photos (which includes Bearing Buddies, newer and lights, and what looks like some sweet polished hubcaps.) The interior is finished nicely for what amounts to a high-speed competition boat that in most cases, wouldn’t be your first choice for a pleasure craft. However, those seats look downright comfortable, and I could see enjoying an all-day cruise in this Eliminator with one other passenger. This is a seriously cool boat that I’m sure draws a crowd wherever it goes, and I’d love to spend a few hours behind the wheel.

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  1. MattR

    You can pick these up for a song on Craigslist out in Cali where I live, but this is a really nice one.The low antes always attracts me, but you could spend that in a summer with gas these days.

    I am not as savvy, but a friend of mine disclosed that his yacht expenses were rolled into one of his corporations that always lost money and he got it back at tax time. There may be a similar avenue here. It would be fun until it flips!

    Like 9
  2. MitchellMember

    You know who would want this? Mike Finnegan from Roadkill

    Like 9
    • Poppapork

      Mikes is a similar hull but with a 711ci twin turbo hemi.

      I live in a river and lake recreational area and i woulda get bored with the noise really fast. Get a couple passes a season and thats about it. Thing gotta be loud as heck even at near idle speeds

      Like 0
  3. Troy s

    Thought I was gonna fly right out of one of those jet boats when I was twelve, big block Chevy sounded really good but when the guy started turning, rather abruptly, I just held on to whatever I could find. Scared me silly.
    80, 90, 100 mph, it doesn’t matter as long as the engine doesn’t shut off.

    Like 4
  4. Connecticut Mark

    Not a boat guy, is it even legal to go 80 mph or 70 mph all day.? Or even for like 10 minutes?

    Like 1
    • Jon

      Out in the gulf of Mexico you can run whatever it will produce, offshore.

      Like 2
      • local_sheriff

        Jon; not really sure any sane person would drive such a light and flat hull vessel out in the Gulf, particularly at such speeds – it’s destined to flip in seconds..!

        Like 6
      • MBorst

        If the waves allow it

        Like 1
      • BR

        With that flattie hull you don’t want ANY waves. These boats don’t go to the GOM. You’re thinking of offshore racers like Cigarette Racing.

        Like 0
    • Alan Robbins

      No speed limit on the water except in marina’s, the Intercoastal Waterway, or certain “no wake” zones. Here on the Great Lakes we say “The louder the motors the smaller the bikini’s”

      It’s not at all unusual to see 30′ boats with insane amounts of horsepower. – 2000, 2500 hp.

      Like 8
    • Jonathan Q Higgins

      Mark, there are guys that do that on the CT river. Don’t ask me how I know. I see this has a foot throttle. That’s a nice safety feature. Not sure how the steering is but on mine steering was of the Armstrong variety. That 460 would probably be put to better use at the end of a mooring line.

      Like 1
    • Will Irby

      Most public waterways have no speed limit; usually the water conditions determine the driver’s limit. Back in the early ’80s when jet boats were more popular, I rode with a friend in his 18′ powered by a fairly stout 485 c.i Chevy with two Holley 1050 Dominators on a tunnel ram. He didn’t have the carb jetting dialed in yet, and as a result the engine ran a little lean at WOT. For that reason, he told me to sit upright in the middle of the back seat, so that I would block some of the air flow to the carbs. He had someone on the adjacent dam with a radar gun; we hit 87 on a day with a light chop on the water. That boat had a totally different personality than another friend’s 21′ powered by a twin turbo Chevy big block; that one was not very impressive until about 50, when the boost started to kick in, but it would roll after that. Speed on the water does feel different than on land, and of course the size of the boat plays a big part in that. 80 mph in a 40+ foot twin or triple engine Fountain feels fairly sane. I have also been 115 in a tunnel-hull outboard, and was glad to be on a glass-smooth river.

      Like 3
  5. David

    It reminds me of the Great Outdoors with John Candy now that is a funny movie.

    Like 10
    • Jon

      I was thinking about the speedboat the moonshiner had in walking tall movie,where they ran logs across the river.

      Like 1
  6. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    LOL! Not a fan of the color Jeff, but this thing would be a blast! I live on small river in Wisconsin and my neighbors complain when a jet ski goes by. Maybe 3 times a year. I just bought a fiver E39 6 speed but I could see myself in this go fast boat. Great post, always nice to see something cool that is not on four wheels! Take care, Mike.

    Like 5
    • MattR

      Good point on neighbors complaining leiniedude. I grew up in the midwest going to lakes and everybody always noticed the loud speed boat. But someone has to be that guy I guess!

      Like 7
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Hi Mike, yeah, like loud Harley’s, not everyone will approve. Years ago, I lived on a lake, Lake Sinnissippi ( no relation) and some guy had one of these. Rattled the cottage windows, it did. And “cruise all day at 80”? Maybe pulling a gas tanker, as judging by what regular outboards got for mileage, I’d bet 20 minutes is all you get with this baby. But what a 20 minutes!!!

      Like 9
  7. HoA Howard AMember

    Got to be nuts,,(looks like fun) Hang on,,,

    Like 4
    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      LOL Howard! Great video.

      Like 1
    • MBorst

      That track looks more like it should be used for mud racing

      Like 1
  8. bobhess bobhessMember

    Helped an engineering student in college build a Hemi powered 16 foot Rasencraft ski boat. Was the first to water ski behind it. Still got shoulder damage from the initial launch. On plane, the only thing in the water was the prop and rudder. It was fun but I’m real glad to have survived it.

    Like 4
  9. Robert

    Does anyone else think that’s Mike Finnegan & Steve Dulcich sitting in the boat in the second picture?

    Like 2
  10. Ron

    I would be much more interested if it had a v-drive instead of a jet drive. V-drive boats can produce similar speeds but run much lower rpm’s so don’t burn near as much fuel and the engine will last a lot longer. I had a hull similar to this one with a 454 BBC and a v-drive for several years, had fourteen gallon fuel capacity and I could pull skiers all day on one tank of gas.

    Like 6
    • Fireman DK

      absolutely correct Ron, and you wont suck a ski rope up into it also…… we towed a few in our day with our 400 small block Chevy V-drive powered Glen-L Thunderbolt at Clear Lake (Above Lakeport) in California while staying at the “Green Anchor” for 26 years ….good times !

      Like 0
  11. ACZ

    I had an 18 ft with a 455 W30 Olds and a Berkeley pump. Fun boat and pretty stable. Fast as hell but a tremendous appetite for fuel like others have said. A jet pump is like a very loose torque converter. Bad for water skiing because it’s not good out of the hole, but get it on plane and all hell brakes loose.

    Like 2
    • Vince H

      A friend of mine had one of these with the 455 Olds. It was not as fast as he liked so I put a cam in it. Don’t remember the grind but it was a upgrade option that was offered. Yes they are fast.

      Like 0
  12. JagManBill

    I had a 18ft Challenger with a Berkeley J pump back 20 years ago. Was doing an appraisal on a property and it was sitting under a tarp in a lean-to behind a barn. Got to talkin to the owner and he said he wished it would just go away. I casually made the comment I could make that happen. Ended up trading the $400 appraisal fee for the boat (and trailer). Now before you call that a screamin deal, it was set up for a 455 Olds which wasn’t in the boat. The engine was the whole problem. He said it “started makin a noise” while out on the lake so they brought it in. He took it to a reputable boat shop in town and they pulled the engine and told him to come get the boat while they worked on the Olds.
    He said he hadn’t heard anything for a couple of weeks and drove by to see the progress. Place was locked up and empty. The boat had been sitting under that tarp for over 10 years. I took it home, cleaned it up, toyed with other engines I could put in it but I’m not really a boat guy so that next spring I sold it for $800. Figured that was a good return on a wash/wax job…

    Like 3
  13. bobhess bobhessMember

    Our college boat had the v-drive setup. Only way to get a Hemi and two people in a 16 foot boat. Hemi had 4 carbs on it so fuel mileage wasn’t so hot.

    Like 3
  14. MBorst

    Rode in a friend’s Texas tunnel with built 454 he built. Performance shop owner knew what he was doing. We reached a similar V-hull jet boat with a 460 in it. Tho I’m a Ford fan he couldn’t keep up. My friend so had a built Chevy truck made popular hot rod cover. Both Texas tunnel and truck were fire engine red those that might remember 30 years back. Blown and nitrox he never did make it down the drain strip without breaking a rear-end.

    Like 1
  15. Araknid78

    Item location:
    Saint Paul, Minnesota

    Like 0
  16. Kenn

    v drive instead of jet drive and you would have your 100mph. Just too much slippage with a jet drive.

    Like 1
  17. Karl

    I was looking hard at jet boats a couple years ago but ended getting a 22.5 ft Donzi with a 502 bored .030 full roller and an 8-71 supercharger and a good set of worked AFR heads I am running a 31″ 3 blade wheel I have had the boat into the 90s but just haven’t had the balls to finish it off yet. It’s on a Midwest lake and it running water injected open headers, just don’t start it before 10:00 am!

    Like 3
  18. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $8,600.

    Like 1
  19. Matt

    My 17’ whaler goes 65 with a 150 stock outboard and my sidewinder goes 80. Both with enough room for 4+ people. Unless it can go 100 why not just get a 80s or 90s boat with a hull that can handle a bit of a chop?

    Like 0

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