The Return of the Donzis


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Donzi 38 zrc
Donzi 38 zrc

Donzi restarts and targets the international market with
Spencer Ship Monaco
. From the new plant in Washington, North Carolina, the goal of one of the most famous brands born on ThunderBoat Row is now to regain worldwide altitude.

First date? The FLIBS, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, scheduled for October 26-30, 2022.

Once upon a time (and actually, there still is) the celebrated ThunderBoat Row, century 188th Street, Miami. A great many top offshore hulls have come out of here, starting with the genius of Don Aronow. Formula, Cigarette, Magnum and Donzi. All brands that have conquered the world and hold a special place in the imagination of those who love speed on water.

Today Donzi restarts with Spencer Ship Monaco, which will support the brand in sales, development, service and logistics Donzi on the international stage.

The revitalization of Donzi Marine

Today Donzi is owned by Fred Ross, who is intent on strongly reviving these motorboats. To do so, he recruited a veteran of this very particular market: Craig Barrie, former general manager of the Cigarette Racing Team. “I chose to rely on Craig because he has the best knowledge of Don Aronow brands,” Ross says, adding that Barrie holds the helm to achieve all the goals set.

Donzi, without a doubt, among fast boats is still a very strong name. The positive momentum in boating is a good incentive to give the project substance.


Donzi was founded in 1964 and is known as a legend in the high-performance power and pleasure boat industry. With nearly 60 years of history, the original was started by Don Aronow, an offshore legend (both as a pilot and entrepreneur) in the 1960s and 1980s. Today Donzi is using all his experience to revive his brand and fame in the world market.

The new Donzi network

To make a comeback, the ideas are clear. The basis is the background of the site, a heritage that will be preserved and developed. At the same time, it will be necessary to create an appropriate network that is familiar with this type of boat in both sales and after-sales, crucial equally among boats.

Another key figure in this regard is Craig Spencer Harvey, founder and CEO of Spencer Ship Monaco. For years the company has distributed Donzi and “sold hundreds of units worldwide through a network of fantastic agents and importers to enthusiastic boat owners and boaters in the past,” comments Spencer Harvey.

Why Donzi? Again the CEO replies, “Everyone loves the way Donzi’s look on the water! They are fun, fast, and incredibly designed and engineered. When you tell someone you own a Donzi, no further explanation is necessary.”

The Donzi range today

The current range consists of three models: 22 Classic; 41 GTZ, 38 ZRC. Barrie’s approach is to modernize the existing Donzi 38 ZRC, 38-foot center console and 29-foot ZR Sportboat. These will be joined by three new models in the next two years.

Donzi’s story

We have talked about the present, but the roots of this historic brand go back almost sixty years.

The 1960s were tough and difficult times for offshore. The V-bottom design and construction technology of fiberglass boats were still being developed, and the grueling ocean journeys, hundreds of miles through dangerous seas, often put pilots and boats in difficulty.

In those days the biggest names in racing seemed to share one address: NE 188th Street in North Miami PL. They called it “Thunderboat Row,” and world champion racer Don Aronow was the star of the show. After Formula, Cigarette, Magnum, in 1963 the Donzi was born. The first were 28-foot ocean racing boats and it did not take them long to make a name for themselves in the Miami – Key West and the Miami – Nassau of ’63 and ’64.

Donzi D38 ZRC engine
Donzi D38 ZRC

In 1964 Aronow debuted his first Donzi“Sweet 16,” a boat with a distinctive low-profile style and race-proven hull. This boat would serve as the basis for the Donzi models of years to come. By the time Aronow sold to marine accessories conglomerate Teleflex, its reputation as a fast boat with top lines was well established.

Teleflex maintained the course charted by Aronow, introducing 14- and 18-foot variants of the original Sweet 16. In 1967 two former Teleflex executives, John and Tim Chisholm, bought Donzi and began to expand the range. Models introduced during their stewardship include the Criterion and Corsican, models still appreciated by enthusiasts today.

In 1985, former Chris Craft president Dick Gent, Jack Staples and Gordon Houser acquired Donzi, with the goal of increasing production. Then the company left Miami in favor of Sarasota, many new models were introduced, and production increased to nearly 400 boats per year. This period saw the creation of the Donzi “Z” line of high-performance boats, featuring the Z-33 Crossbow, a cult hit of the 1980s.

Donzi D38 ZRC

In 1988, the marine industry conglomerate OMC took over, with the goal of turning Donzi into a full-fledged mass producer. Unfortunately, this came at perhaps the worst possible time, as boat sales were going through a period of unprecedented decline. In 1993 American Marine Holdings intervened. President and CEO Lee Kimmell established a clear plan to restore the brand to its former glory. He put together a new team composed of some of the best and brightest minds in the field. Beginning an ambitious new product development campaign, Donzi’s new design team launched a new line of high-performance ZX boats, among the first to have steppe hulls.

For more information: Spencer Ship Monaco


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