PRE LOVED BOATS: AJM SCARAB 3400

By: John Willis

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

SLICK BACK THE HAIR, PUT ON THE RAY-BANS AND GET READY FOR A BLAST

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Formula, Magnum, Donzi, Thunderbird, Apache, Bertram, Cigarette, American Racing – just some of the boats of Thunder Row and the heady days of the Yankee offshore racing circuit. The scene was filled with tales of sheiks, princes, presidents, movie stars, murder and of course sex, drugs and rock and roll. These are the days of evolution of fibreglass deep-V boating and one of the offsprings was the industry giant Wellcraft and its famous Scarabs.

These sleek, sexy sports machines were the love children that evolved from early high-speed sports hulls once built for rum-running during prohibition and eventually gaining worldwide prominence throughout the late 1970s and 1980s from the extravagance of Miami Vice and Baywatch. In the offshore racing circuit, winning the famed Miami-Nassau race was likened to taking line honours in the Indy 500. Tales of drug runners from Key West, the Bahamas and Mexico; the affluence of Hollywood, Florida and Hawaiian high society; and the drive of pioneers, exhibitionists and thrill seekers like Wynne, Walters, Aronow, Bertram and Hunt all drove a thirst for speed – in more ways than one.

Wellcraft introduced the USA Scarabs into these romantic days, yet in the land Down Under we founded our own heroes and foes. Melbourne-born Alan Jones "was the first driver to win a Formula One World Championship with the Williams team, becoming the 1980 World Drivers' Champion and the second Australian to do so following triple World Champion Sir Jack Brabham. He competed in a total of 117 Grands Prix, winning 12 and achieving 24 podium finishes. In 1978, Jones won the Can-Am championship driving a Lola. Jones won the Australian Grand Prix in 1980 at Calder Park Raceway, having lapped the field consisting mostly of Formula 5000 cars while he was driving his Formula One Championship winning Williams FW07B".

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As an ironic byline, history tells us that Jones earned his first full-time Formula One drive in 1976 in John Surtees' team (Surtees becoming another big name in Australasian boating). Jones's car was known for its infamous Durex (condoms etc.) sponsorship which led to the BBC refusing to cover Formula One races during the season.

Jones apparently lent his name and initially teamed with boating identity Graham "Noddy" Williams to form AJM (Alan Jones Marine) in the booming 1980s, introducing their own line of Scarabs to Australia. As far back as 1958, Williams was responsible for the launching of the original Stylecraft boats, one of the very earliest boatbuilding organisations to switch to fibreglass construction from timber beginnings. In some eyes, "Williams has probably had greater influence on the evolution of the small Australian powerboat than almost any other designer. This sweeping statement may surprise, but his list of credits include all of the original Stylecraft range, several of the existing Caribbean range, all of the original Huntsmen Cruisers, the original Nova series (pre 1975) and Mustang Marine".

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The actual history is clouded as to Williams' departure and the incoming John Lane. Similarly there is plenty of conjecture as to the Scarab bloodlines. Some devotees allege that the sleek 23, 26 and 29ft models all seemed to generate from the Connelly/Cigarette DNA. Steve Shaw (PowerCat Marine) is our best reference as he actually built many of the models under contract to AJM/Fastlane. He recalls the 23 as possibly being a Bayliner derivative where the 26 and 29 models were based on a Magnum Marine hull (similar DNA to the Cigarette). In fact Steve actually raced the Magnum and later made the moulds for the 29ft Fastlane, a redesigned AJM Scarab made to accept a pair of big block 7.4lt engines.

THE 3400 AND MORE

My own prediction is that the 34ft twin-sterndrive model sprang to life from the Wellcraft 34 DNA with a shrouded Haines connection. Unfortunately history hasn't been kind to the boating industry and the origins of many great Aussie hulls have been well disguised. AJM also built the beautiful Scarab 4100 Volante sportscruiser with its twin Caterpillar 3208 shaftdrive diesels in the very early 1990s.

AJM was forced to pull the Scarab name by Wellcraft after the early '90s. It then evolved into the 29 Fastlane (the name incorporating John Lane) which was previously a Norm Jenks' Jenkscraft. Other models included the Fastlane 34 and 40 eventually morphing into the Riviera Diavolo 34 and 44. Grant Kenny (ironman champion) and his Olympic swimming star wife Lisa Curry had an interest for a limited period, however the early 1990s were tough times after Paul Keating's "recession we had to have" and attrition took its toll around 1993/4.

THIS MONTH’S HERO

This month's featured boat is a genuine AJM Scarab 34, probably from the very late 1980s. It is powered by twin MerCruiser 5.7 EFI fuel injected V8 petrol engines with Bravo III X drives. The sterndrives and transom assemblies are all fully reconditioned and with very low hours.

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Longstanding Melbourne-based dealership Sealink Marine offers this boat as being in immaculate condition after a total refurbishment. The hull and deck have been professionally resprayed and oven baked with new gunwale rubber and a completely new interior including carpet and upholstery. New custom-made fuel tanks and water tanks have also been installed and even the engine bilge and storage areas have been re-flow-coated.

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It features brand-new instrumentation, new wiring, new steering, while a host of accessories have been fitted including a new Garmin GPS MAP 1020XS, GME GD9600 stereo system, GME GX300 27meg radio, and LED TV.

She is quoted to plane at 2000rpm, cruises at a swift 19kts at 2500rpm, and top speed is more than 35kts (40mph) with terrific economy from the gutsy MerCruiser V8s.

This Scarab 3400 has been painstakingly restored and is an absolute head-turner offering the bonus of being a pedigree AJM Scarab. She offers a comfortable layout, chic style, appealing aesthetics and a speedy attitude.

VALUE VROOM

This beautiful Scarab 3400 presents exceptional value for money. Similar units have sold for equivalent money and in fact up to $140K ever since I was retailing and brokering in the early 1990s. However, this unit has already received an extensive refurbishment.

Some added notable features include obviously the engine and electronics fitouts, but also remote-control spotlight, adjustable steering helm, anchor winch, new canopies and storm covers, removable teak dining table, hot and cold pressurised water, electric-flush toilet, rear shower, 12V Engel fridge, large underfloor storage, new carpet and upholstery.

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It is offered for sale, ex-Melbourne, for $80K, less than the price of a half-reasonable trailer boat! Just think of the fun this beautiful AJM Scarab will offer – but no drug running ya hear. 

AJM SCARAB 3400 SPECS

PRICE $80,000

MATERIAL Fibreglass

TYPE Planing monohull

LENGTH 10.36m

BEAM 2.8m

WEIGHT Approx 3500kg

BERTHS 4

FUEL Approx 500lt

WATER 60lt

CONTACT Sealink Marine, 12 Heland Place, Braeside, VIC, 3195

PHONE (03) 9587 5999

Check out the full feature in issue #501 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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