View Full Version : Some comments on the late 80's era Z-boats.

06-01-2006, 08:10 AM
I was responding to a question to one of our members and thought I would post my thoughts to the general forum. Feel free to disagree or add more. All of this has been posted before; but, there are many people who are new tot he board and might find it interesting.

I owned a 1987 Z-25 for 8 years and own a Z-33 for the last 4 years. They are sturdy, heavy, great rides in the ocean, and they are fun to own. Perhaps a little slower by today's standards; but, the ride makes up for it, IMHO.(And, yes, DREGZ, they aren't as collectable as the classics.) But, they are "head-turners" just the same, I alway get compliments every weekend at Shell Island.
OK, so, here's the skinny, you need to check the stringers out in any Z-boat (21, 25,33,) Donzi built from 1987 to 1990. The places to look are on the transom and around the outdrive and take the inspection covers off and tap the stringers, where they meet the hull everywhere you can reach. If you hear a hollow spot, you've got problems. The Z-33 had to have the front floor replaced, everything else is fine. But, I had $14,400 of stringer work done on my Z-25. We dis-assembled the boat and re-built almost the entire stringer system. If your stringers are good, then you need to know that if has NOT been replaced, the fuel tank will have to be replaced, no question about it, don't even try to talk me out of it. And, I'll even go so far to stick my neck out and say that if any person on this board has NOT replaced their fuel tank on one of these Z-boats from this era, you are "at risk"; and, I definitely wouldn'd let anyuone smoke on my boat. The reason: During the late 80's, the tanks were built by the company in Perry, Florida, (can't rememebr, ask George Carter), and they were built with slightly less thickness, than what they are today. Get this, when I replaced the 200 gallon tank in my Z-33, it was only 1/20th of an inch thick from corrosion, in places. The thickness of 1/8 inch would not be allowed today for a tank of that size. The tanks corrode on the bottom, from water intrusion into the fuel well, which does not drain out. (It's the way all manufacturer's have to build them, Federal code). Anyway, the tank will look great on the top, and even on the inside, should you look through the fuel sender hole; but, it will be corroded on the bottom. It only started out with 1/8th of an inch thickness; so, just a little corrosion will make that 1/16th of an inch thickness. It looks likes small craters in the metal. Anyone who has doen this job, will testify to this. Fuel tanks, if TOTALLT DRY, will last a number of years; but, if they are stored outside, or washed down, from salt water use, (as we do here in Florida), they will last no more than 10 years. They generally can be bought for $6 per gallon. I paid JTR, of Gulfport, Florida, $900 for the replacement tank for the Z-33, 140 gallons. (didn't go back with that 200 gallons). One more thing, have the tank painted and use large stainless steel valves on the new ones. Again, the old valves are not up to today's codes.

I have completely taken apart, retrofitted, and replaced every wire, gauge, upholstry, engines, outdrives, all mechanical parts of both boats. It's fair to say that I know the Z-25 & Z-33 boats as well as any person on the board.

Having said all this, if I haven' totally scared you, the boat is a neat "smile machine". I plan to own my Z-33 until I punch my ticket. In fact, my kids have told my that I am such a Donzi-addict, that my ashes will be attached to the front tip of the Z-33, and I will get the last "white knuckled" ride of my life, out to the "Whistler - marker 19", 19 miles off of Egmont Island, they'll play my favorite tune, Gato Babieri's "Europa" on the stereo, and leave me to swim with the dolphins.

I hope you enjoyed the read. (Don't mean to offend anyone)

06-01-2006, 08:22 AM
FYI..............pics of my Z-boats

Team Jefe
06-01-2006, 08:26 AM
Thanks Bud, you have two beauties there for sure. I've been flrting with CaptWK's Z-33 for a while now....but as you said they ain't super fast.....and Angel likes to go fast;)

06-01-2006, 08:34 AM
Jefe, I tried to find you at the last rally, wanted to shake your hand........(actually just wanted to see Angel :-).
I have one of those beauties that ride with me and she likes to go fast, too. But, she likes that nice, slow, smooth ride of a "big boat" better, if you catch my drift. Keeps her secure and happy, and "If they ain't happy, nobody's happy", right?.

Dang...........I take a look at her and then me, wonder what she sees in me. Sure does a lot for my image, though!

06-01-2006, 02:23 PM
They really are wonderful boats!! We've got our 86 Z25 used with only 20 hours on it in 1987. When dad passed away 4 years ago it became mine. It certainly isn't the fastest boat out there (in 1986 or today) but certainly still turns heads. It has a wide beam and is a heavy boat, which probably helps it in the ride department but hurts the top end. Like Donzigo, this boat will not leave the family til I'm gone and maybe not even then. The kids like riding in it too much.

06-02-2006, 08:08 AM
I have always liked the lines on the Z33. Theres one coming in my shop this summer for some resto work... Nice pics by the way.. Jamie / Lakeside :)

06-02-2006, 08:45 AM
Dang...........I take a look at her and then me, wonder what she sees in me. Sure does a lot for my image, though!
I've often wondered the same thing!:biggrin: :cistineb:

06-02-2006, 08:46 AM
I consider the Black Widows to be a Z boat, and to me, they are just great, great looking boats.

06-03-2006, 07:23 AM
Cuda............thanks for the ego-boost............you're killing me ......LOL

joseph m. hahnl
06-03-2006, 02:12 PM
Dang...........I take a look at her and then me, wonder what she sees in me. Sure does a lot for my image, though!

Must be your "Big Boat"!!:wink:


06-03-2006, 06:55 PM
Joseph.............it's something like that, for sure.

06-06-2006, 09:23 AM
I to owned an 86 Z-21 with the 350 300hp tempest set up. It to had stringer issues but witht he help of an Attorney and Donzi Customer Service (new owners of donzi in 89) they took it back and gave me a Demo 88 Z-22 That I loved. Wish I still had it see attached.


06-06-2006, 03:10 PM
Back when I had my Z-21, I became rather obsessed with researching the history of these models. Here's a little production # research I put together several years ago:


I also put together a narrative about what I could come up with about each model in the family, but I can't find that thread anywhere. I'll keep looking, as I was rather proud of it at the time.

I love my 18, but I do miss the praticality of the Z quite often...


06-07-2006, 03:37 PM
Thanks for all your help, just can't pull the trigger on the Z25, too far away and too much salt water. Now you guys have me scared about stringers and gas tanks!!!! Thanks a lot!! Thanks again for the "heads up"

06-07-2006, 10:44 PM
I will confess ignorance up front - I'm not at all familiar with Donzi's model history, so I'm hoping you can clarify. By "Z boats" are you referring to both the closed deck offshore boats and the open CC boats? I've seen CC boats referred to as "Z33" but a center console outboard boat is obviously a somewhat different beast than the closed deck in pics (or is it?).

Do these gas tank and stringer issues affect the CC boats as well?

Many thanks!