It becomes difficult for boats to stand out when they're stuffed into an expo center segmented into row after row of seafaring vessels and marine hardware. Even massive yachts and striking boat concepts can start to look alike after a few passes through a boat show. One boat that did grab our attention at the Boot Dusseldorf show earlier this year is the new Frauscher 858 Fantom, a V8-powered craft inspired by German and Italian sports cars.
Frauscher says that the 858 Fantom is the product of an "all-Austrian, all-star team of designers and engineers." That team includes its own Thomas Gerzer, the mind behind several of its previous boat designs, Harry Miesbauer, a boat designer that's worked with a number of boatyards, and KISKA, a design firm that's also had a hand in KTM motorcycle design.
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A teak deck is nothing new, but what gives this day cruiser its head-turning look is the generous use of teak around the foredeck, which contrasts with the deep black of the hull. It wasn't the only boat we saw in Dusseldorf to use heaps of wood in its design, but it was definitely among the most successful. A frameless windscreen and stainless steel hardware finish off a very clean, elegant look.
Of course, a sexy body is only half the story for a boat that fancies itself a sports car of the sea. In terms of power, Frauscher offers a number of gas and diesel V8 options, the most intriguing of which is the 430-hp 8.2-liter V8 that pushes the hunk of fancy sticks to speeds of up to 48 knots (55 mph/89 km/h) – not exactly a floating Lamborghini, but enough power and speed to slap yourself awake with the rush of crisp, summer air across your face. Lesser engines leave off at around 40 knots (46 mph/74 km/h).
The 28-ft (8.67-m) 858 holds up to seven people, with passengers free to lay out on the large sunbathing area and make use of available equipment like a Bose sound system and electric cabin toilet.
The 858 Fantom debuted last summer and has been making appearances at major boat shows ever since. As one might expect from looking at it, it is no cheap water steed, starting at a rather substantial €182,000 (US$250,000).
The 858 Fantom is Frauscher's latest story, but of equal interest is its existing stable of electric boats. The Austrian boat maker has been building electric vessels for more than 50 years and considers itself one of the world's leading authorities on e-boat design. Its electrics come in sizes between 20 and 24.6 ft (6.1 and 7.5 m). Electric motors between 4.3 and 40 kW offer a quieter, cleaner ride for water bodies where internal combustion engines are frowned upon.
In 2009, Frausher also experimented with a hydrogen fuel cell design, equipping its 600 Riviera with a 4-kW, 48-V fuel cell system from Fronius and a 26-liter (6.9 US gal) hydrogen storage tank from Bitter. The boat was said to offer a range of up to 50 miles (80 km), coupled with refueling times of around five minutes. The companies called the craft the "first hydrogen powered electric boat ready for serial production." Frauscher did not respond prior to publishing to our email requesting an update on the future of the technology. Given that the project's website is no longer in existence, we're left to believe that a fuel cell boat is not going to actually make serial production anytime soon.
You can watch the 858 Fantom slice across the subalpine waters of Frauscher's home country in the video below.