Top 5 Inboard Boats for $5,000

Buying your First Boat Should Be Budget Friendly

Speedboat in dock
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If you are just getting into water sports you have likely been stifled by the price tag on new inboard boats, and at one point you probably threw your hands up and muttered “How does anyone afford this sport?”

If you’re currently in that boat (no pun intended) then turn that frown upside down, because you can get your first inboard boat without having to take a second and third mortgage on the house -- and you even get to keep your arms and legs.

There are inboard boats out there that are easily attained for around $5,000 and this list was put together to help you find the right one. Before we get into the list, though, I feel there needs to be a little bit of priming.

When you are searching for a boat in the $5,000 range, you are not going to find a solid boat with V Drive, and it is likely going to be old -- even from the seventies. Don’t let this deter you. Inboard boats hold their value like crazy, which means you can buy any boat on this list with confidence and you will likely be able to sell it for the same price you paid later on down the road.

So without further adulation, here are the top five inboard boats for $5,000.

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Mastercraft Stars and Stripes (Any Year)

This is the undisputed king of budget friendly first inboards. Mastercraft manufactured this work of art in the mid 70’s well through the 80’s and you can feel comfortable buying any year model.

The greatest thing about Mastercrafts, though, are their owners. To put it simply, they are freaks when it comes to maintenance and upkeep. That means nine times out of ten you are getting a boat that has been babied and well kept. In fact, within the Mastercraft owner community there are competitions to see who has the most well preserved vintage MC. Perhaps you will join the ranks when you buy your first Stars and Stripes model. You can pick one of these bad boys up from 4500 to 6500 dollars.

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Supra Comp TS6 (1986-1992)

This is a close runner up to the Mastercraft. You can pick up a nicely equipped Supra TS6M from 1988 to 1992 for right around $5k. These boats have a nice flow and are easily modified to add sound systems, towers, and the like.

The 351 Pleasurecraft engine that comes standard in these boats provides ample torque to pull an entire team of skiers at once. In fact, just looking at these boats transports you to a time when watersports were much simpler.

One word of caution though -- if you are looking at buying a TS6M, make sure to inspect the engine mounts. These models were mounted to wood stringers which obviously wear over time. This is a problem that will eventually have to be addressed and it will run you somewhere in the $1500 range to fix. If someone has already fixed it, then you’re golden.

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Ski Nautique(1975-1986)

If there wasn’t such a soft spot in my heart for the Supra TS6M then vintage Ski Nautique’s would have easily taken the number 2 spot. These boats are incredible. They are living testimony to the fact that Nautique has always been ahead of it’s time.

It’s almost like stepping into a vintage Mercedes. All of the luxuries and amenities just get better with age. By 1986 Ski Nautique was already putting heaters and handheld showers into their boats, when other manufacturers were trying to figure out the nuances of proper engine ratio.

Literally any Ski Nautique you find in this price range is a no brainer. You really can’t go wrong. Granted, some minor maintenance may be required at the bottom end of the price range, but you are guaranteed to get a boat that will last you for a while.

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Malibu Skier (1990-1993)

Ahh Malibu -- they are a boat company with a penchant for flare, and the early Malibu Skiers are no exception. The Malibu skier is a fantastic option if you are looking for something just a little bit different. They have become somewhat rare in the eastern US, but you can still find them from time to time. But if you live on the west coast you can find them pretty readily.

These boats are solid performers through and through. But one word of caution -- they are a little more maintenance intensive than the other options on this list. That means, you should change the oil religiously and do a full engine run down every month. If you stay on top of it, you can avoid the annoying nickle and dime problems that can arise with these models.

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Ski Supreme (1985-1990)

Ski Supreme was the workhorse of ski boats back in the golden age of waterskiing. These boats were solidly constructed and featured a standard 351 Indmar engine. They may not have the luxuries that came standard with Nautiques. But what they lack in minor amenities, they more than make up for in heart.

These boats were designed to take a beating, and even the older models show minimal signs of wear. The best part about these though is how easy and cheap they are to work on. The 351 Indmar engine uses pretty much all standard Ford parts from that era which means just about any auto parts store will carry what you need. In effect, you spend less time waiting for parts to come in the mail, and more time on the water.