There are many of you too young to remember the nuclear arms race between the United States of America and the USSR (or even too young to know what the USSR was). In hopes to deter nuclear annihilation, both superpowers sought to stockpile more tactical warheads and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the other. Makes sense, right? Replacing the world stage with the showroom floor, we too are living in a OEM arms race.
Kawasaki’s brutal 310-horsepower supercharged Ultra remains atop the heap, raking up piles of championship trophies both in the offshore and endurance fields. Close behind, Yamaha’s Super Vortex High Output-equipped FZ and FX runabouts have swept up overall class wins in Pro Open, Limited and Stock classes at last year’s Pro Watercross national tour (and is poised to repeat its success in 2015).
Sea-Doo, who is never one to swallow third place for very long, is rumored to debut an all-new 1,600cc-plus 3-cylinder Rotax based off of the successful dual-overhead cam ACE architecture found both in Can-Am snowmobiles and in far smaller form, the 900cc Spark. While tales of the new engine range from a 330-horsepower, 2-liter bruiser, to a more conservative 1.5L, 280HP powerhouse, it is likely to rival (if not surpass) the Yamaha’s dyno-true 260-plus horse output and make many reconsider that bright yellow paint job.
But can we do better? Italian motorcycle makers would emphatically cry “YES!” and prototypes and concepts have graced show floors for years. Late last year, we introduced you to Zolland Design AB’s Ducati-inspired personal watercraft touting twin Ducati 1098 engines. While merely a CAD (computer assisted drawing), the concept claimed 320-horsepower from a pair of 1098cc engines.
But another eclipsed that number over 7 years ago. Back in December 2007, MV Agusta unexpectedly unveiled the F4 Interceptor at the Milan Motorcycle Show in Italy. Opting for large-displacement, naturally-aspirated powerplant (rather than a supercharged engine like current OEs), the carbon fiber-hulled, 2.2-liter V8-powered PWC created a new engine by fusing two motorcycle engines together.
According to Gizmag, MV Agusta took “two of its high performance 1078cc four cylinder engines and created a Swiss-watch-like 2156cc V8 powerplant which will power a limited-edition 308 bhp, carbon-fiber–hulled, two-seater called the F4 Interceptor… The only information apart from the raw numbers available on the craft at this stage is that it has a CDI ignition, electronic fuel injection, a 3-blade stainless steel impeller, uses a 160mm high pressure axial flow pump and is claimed to weigh in at an astounding 238kg dry.”
With a scant weight of 524-pounds and a final output a staggering 400 horsepower, the combination would make the Agusta quite possibly the world’s fastest (and most expensive) PWC. Of course, the concept was also much smaller than any of the then-current models. At 2.946 metres long (115.9 inches), it is more than a foot shorter than Sea-Doo’s full-sized GTX/RXT hull. Add to it a healthy quotient of titanium and magnesium, and the Agusta nears the super exotic with each step.
“As with any other form of performance motorsport, fundamental physics still applies,” Gizmag continued, “modest dimensions means less mass to accelerate, stop and change direction. Compare the dimensions and power of the MV Agusta…to the recently announced offerings of the existing manufacturers and you’ll see a significant gap in the power-to-weight ratios…and why we think the European PWC will naturally fall into an elite class of PWC similar perhaps to the difference between luxury class cars such as BMW and Mercedes, and their exotic automotive counterparts such as Ferrari, Lamborghini et al.”
In its conclusion, Agusta announced a limited (although undisclosed) production number of the new F4 Interceptor and failed to release a price, yet it was expected to quite easily be “the most expensive production PWC yet sold.” Alas, the MV Agusta F4 Interceptor never came to fruition. Much like HSR-Benelli’s V6-powetred Series-R watercraft revealed near this same time, both Italian super-craft failed to see production, not to mention US shores. Surprisingly enough, price wasn’t the biggest detractor, but compliance with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Approval from the Coast Guard – which consists of a “gentleman’s agreement” for standard PWC not to exceed 65mph full loaded – has kept many a ski from American hands, most recently the RS-edition supercharged Sea-Doos. Unrestricted by its GPS-governor, RXT-X 260 RS units handily exceed 70-71 mph “out of the box.” Likewise, Kawasakis greedily surpass the 70mph mark with literally the addition of $.10 worth of washers to the paddle wheel speedometer.
Of course, the aftermarket accessory market for PWC is ripe with go-fast goodies that can launch a SVHO-powered Yamaha to 80mph with very little effort. Yes, 400HP is achievable from any of the current Big Three, and a naturally-aspirated V8 Italian PWC is a “tantalizing prospect” to be sure, but until the USCG restriction is lifted or heavily amended, it is very unlikely that we’ll see super exotics like MV Agusta’s dream ski F4 Interceptor.