BMW has been known to get its feet wet in the marine world for some time now. There was the BMW 507 V8-powered Abbate boat from the late 1950s, which fetched $182,085 at auction a decade ago, and the company has a history of making marinized engines dating back to just after the First World War. BMW Marine was ultimately sold to Mercury in 1987, but not before the automaker worked with ZF to create its own sterndrive known as the BMW Z-Drive.
In the decades since, BMW’s direct involvement in things that go in the water has largely subsided outside of its own Yachtsport lifestyle brand and America’s Cup team sponsorship, but there’s still a connection between the automaker and the pleasure craft world. The most recent effort is the result of a collaboration between Designworks, the Southern California-based design studio owned by BMW, and Sea Ray, a leading name in pleasure boats known for their distinctive signature look.
The boat is the yacht-certified Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard, and it’s the first of its kind to feature an all-new design language that is an attempt to modernize the iconic Sea Ray look for the next generation. Unveiled in conjunction with the 45th anniversary of the Sundancer series of boats, the new 370 Outboard is perhaps best thought of as a precursor of things to come, or a design study of sorts. The new design language exhibited inside and out will likely soon be applied to future Sea Ray models, while the layout was conceived to maximize space and functionality.
According to Sea Ray’s Design Director Charlie Foss, “Automotive-inspired design is part of the Sea Ray history, dating back to collaboration with Harley Earl Associates in the early 1960s. It was important that we partnered with a group that has a comprehensive understanding of future mobility and the ability to develop concepts with a view to future contexts.”
“Our goal was to define the foundation for bold and pure design expression,” Foss added. “Working together with Designworks, we were able to produce a fresh set of design principles that pay homage to our brand’s past while indicating the future, resulting in a look that is undeniably Sea Ray. An output of the collaboration was the definition of four key design characteristics to inform Sea Ray models moving forward: sleek, confident, athletic, and distinctive.”
“Sea Ray has a rich history as a leading boat manufacturer for more than 60 years,” said Johannes Lampela, director of industrial design at Designworks. “The Sea Ray look is very recognizable, and our goal working together was to further strengthen that design DNA by bringing forward the most iconic features through a modern design execution. What emerged is a modern yet classic aesthetic that is being used to inspire the next generation of Sea Ray boats.”
The Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard was presented on Friday, February 18, and a configurator is now live on the Sea Ray website. The model has a starting price of $749,828, measures nearly 40 feet from bow to stern, has a twelve-foot beam, and can accommodate overnight use. Power comes from triple Mercury 300 Verado V8 outboard engines with joystick piloting that makes docking easy, and output of 300 horsepower each, for total output of 900.
The new Sea Ray is not the first boat to be crafted in part by Designworks. Back in 2008, Designworks and Belgian boatbuilder Zeydon showed off the Performance Cruiser Z60, and the next year, the Bavaria Deep Blue 46 followed up with unique look of its own. Designworks collaborating with Sea Ray isn’t the only instance of a German carmaker embracing the world of boating in recent memory. Last year, Mercedes-AMG revealed its twelfth collaboration with Cigarette Racing, the 59-foot Cigarette Tirrana, which comes with sextuple 450-horsepower supercharged Mercury racing V8 engines and a matching G63 SUV. Later in 2020, OXE Marine announced its new OXE300 outboard engine, which uses a three-liter diesel BMW inline-six as its basis, the result of further cooperation between the company and BMW after the OXE200 series, which is based on a two-liter BMW turbodiesel.
While we’re on the subject, as both BMW and Mercedes have made plans to stop selling V12-powered cars (outside of their ultra-luxury Rolls-Royce and Maybach brands), Mercury Marine has just launched a new naturally-aspirated V12 outboard engine which produces 600 horsepower. The news comes after Volvo-owned Seven Marine ceased production of outboard motors in January, including their benchmark-setting 627 (named for its horsepower rating), which is based on the Chevrolet LSX V8 engine.
Check out the full walkthrough of the new Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard below, and keep an eye out for any BMW-reminiscent design elements that might otherwise go unnoticed.—Alex Tock
[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG, Sea Ray Boats.]