Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28, the 1970s weekender that conquered the Belpaese (8.6 m) – Classic Boat


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Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28
Chris Craft Catalina 28 in an archive image (vers.1)

Undoubtedly, among the cult films of the 1970s, it fits into the segment of the Classic Boat a small “miracle” of mass production, a boat for everyone and capable of taking Italians on vacation, the Chris Craft Catalina 28 (1966), marketed in Italy (by Chris Craft Italia shipyards in Fiumicino) as Super Catalina 28 (1970).

Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28

8.6 meters long overall and 3.1 wide at the maximum beam, the (Super) Catalina 28 was a small revolution, a must sometimes forgotten, but undoubtedly a participant in the Italian nautical scene. By the 1970s, in fact, the Italian shipbuilding industry was producing several pleasure boats, models capable of winning the hearts of enthusiasts but difficult to approach by them because of uncompetitive prices. Partly because of the high level of craftsmanship, partly because of the different concept of “mass production,” Italian shipbuilding thus had an undoubtedly smaller audience than its U.S. counterparts, whose serial approach was undoubtedly more efficient. Among them, to conquer the domestic market, played precisely an important role Chris Craft Italia, and even more so this small weekender ante-litteram, the Super Catalina 28.

Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28


Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28 – Outsiders.

Keeping in mind the different and small variations present between different individual models produced over the years, especially between the US and Italy, this 28′ is mainly characterized by a slender hull with a shallow V-shaped hull. Just on deck, a large cockpit welcomes guests, sheltered by the deckhouse and a tall windshield, often complete with supports for a bimini. Here, to the left, the wheelhouse also takes its place, well protected from wind and spray.

The Chris Craft Super Catalina 28 by Christian Primo, who kindly shared with us some pictures of his boat’s refit. Notice here the long deckhouse and high windshield.

At the far bow, apart from the anchor compartment and dedicated windlass, the Catalina 28 offered no particular space for relaxation, a solution, however, obviated by the long deckhouse, equipped with handrails and capable of serving as an efficient sundeck, accommodating two or more people.

Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28 under sail – Archival image

Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28 – Interior

Coming to the interior spaces, the layout of the Catalina is particularly linear and pragmatic. As soon as you enter, on the starboard side is the bathroom and, opposite this, the kitchen area, which is followed by the dining area, consisting of two small sofas facing a central table. This area, to maximize space, turns out to be convertible into a sleeping area by lowering the table and converting it into cushions, and the same goes for the lounge area opposite this one, where the broadside sofa converts into a single or bunk bed, depending on the models.

The interior of a Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28 in a vintage photo

At the end of this open space area, forward, an enclosed master cabin concludes the interior, accommodating a double bed and , virtually, allowing a total of 5/6 people to stay overnight on board.

Chris Craft Super Catalina
The interior of Christian Primo’s Chris Craft – the versatility of the spaces is clearly visible here

Construction and Propulsion

Regardless of the manufacturing plant, whether it was from the U.S. or Italy, the t (Super) Catalina 28 was mass-produced in fiberglass, with a marine plywood interior, deck, and trim. The engine, on the other hand, varied greatly by country, with gasoline solutions for the American market (2x 135 to 220 horsepower) and diesel for the Italian market.

Due in part to differing regulations, Italian production was thus generally powered by a pair of 125-horsepower Fiat Aifo diesels, resulting in slightly lower performance than their American counterparts. In this regard, looking at performance in terms of top speed, the difference between the many boats is significant, with variations between 14 and 22 knots depending on the installed engine, varying (again in Italy) between 180 and 250 total horsepower.

Chris Craft Super Catalina
C. Primo’s Chris Craft (Super) Catalina 28 after refit. The Top does not appear original to the project.

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Data Sheet

Length Over All (LOA) 8.69 m
Baglio Massimo 3.18 m
Fishing 0.66 m
Gross Tonnage 3 t
Original Chris Craft Motorization Italy 2x Aifo 806 125 hp Diesel

2x Perkins 90 HP Diesel

Original Engine Chris Craft USA 2x Chris Craft 135 hp – 220 hp Gasoline
Maximum Speed about 20 knots
Fuel Tank 350 lt.
Fresh Water Tank 76/80 lt.
Sleeping places 6
Construction Material VTR
Builder Chris Craft (Italy)

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