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Author Topic:   Production History: Outboard Motors, Four-Stroke
jimh posted 11-24-2007 12:35 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I would like to conduct a bit of research and make use of the collective knowledge of all participants. My goal is to identify when certain levels of horsepower were first achieved in production outboard motors using four-stroke techniques, and by what manufacturer. I do not have a great memory or a great body of old literature to draw from, so I solicit help, via this discussion. Please reply with the manufacturer's name, the horsepower, and the first year of production or range of production years. Any comments are also welcome. In this way we can compile a listing, and I will organize it and present it when fairly complete.

I can begin with this contribution:

Homelite, 55-HP, c.1960 to c.1965 (based on Crosley automotive engine)

Fisher-Pierce, 55-HP, 1966 to 1972 (revised Homelite 55-HP engine)
Fisher-Pierce, 85-HP, 1970 to 1972 (based on English Coventry auto engine)

Mercury, 200-HP, 2004, (Verado)
Mercury, 225-HP, 2004, (Verado)
Mercury, 250-HP, 2004 (Verado)
Mercury, 275-HP, 2004, (Verado)
Mercury, 300-HP, 2007, (Verado)

Also, if anyone feels there is an error in any data provided, please feel free to contribute a correction or revision. And the information does not necessarily have to be the first instance of that horsepower. We can sort out who was first with a particular motor horsepower after there is more data.

I encourage everyone to check their old literature and help out with this project.



jimh posted 11-24-2007 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I believe these were the first years for these models:

Honda, 200-HP, 2002
Honda, 225-HP, 2002 (V-tec VTEC cam phasing)

Yamaha, 225-HP, 2002

Perry posted 11-24-2007 01:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
Honda GB30 air-cooled 3 HP 4 stroke 1964
Honda BF35/45 1990
Honda BF90 1995
Honda BF115/130 1998 (1st EFI)
Perry posted 11-24-2007 01:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
Oh, I forgot the motor I have on the back of my Whaler

Honda BF135/150 released in 2003

Jim, sometimes Honda releases their motors in Japan a year before they are released in the US. The information I provided came from Honda Marine's website.

jimh posted 11-24-2007 02:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Perry--thanks for the information.
itl posted 11-24-2007 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for itl  Send Email to itl     
As far as I know, the first EFI four stroke was Suzuki DF70 engine. Introduced 1997.
jimh posted 11-24-2007 05:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The method of fuel induction is not important. Again, I am looking for

Manufacturer, Horsepower, Year Introduced, Notes


Sonic posted 11-24-2007 08:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sonic  Send Email to Sonic     
jimh - I know that accuracy is of the utmost importance to you, so please be advised that the variable valve timing system used by Honda is called "VTEC". There are no hyphens, and all letters are capitalized, as in the acronym you used above "V-tec", a format very similar to the Evinrude Outboard.

VTEC stands for Variable valve Timing with Electronic Control and first appeared in the late 80s in Japan, and with the release of the Acura NSX in 1989 here in the US.

jimh posted 11-24-2007 08:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Sonic--Thanks. Yes, I prefer that things like E-TEC or VTEC be spelled correctly. Thanks.

How about Yamaha and Suzuki four-strokes? Anyone have any historical information on their models?

jimh posted 11-24-2007 08:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Found this resource:

The DF70 came in 1998.

jimh posted 11-24-2007 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Also found this:

Tom W Clark posted 11-24-2007 08:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The DF70 came in 1998.

Is that the calendar year 1998? Or is that the 1998 "model year", which would suggest it was introduced in 1997?

Peter posted 11-24-2007 09:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
The first DF 60 and 70s were model year 1998. Recall that 1998 model year was the first year for the EPA emissions regulation phase-in.
itl posted 11-25-2007 04:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for itl  Send Email to itl     
Model year is probably 1998, but it is for sure that Suzuki DF60/70 engines were introduced by press in 1997.

At this moment a have a european boat magazine called "Kippari" (from july 1997) in my hand were these engines were introduced and test run performed.

The same magazine also told about new Yamaha four stroke engines; F80/F100. New Yammies are to be released 1998. There were also article about new Honda BF115/BF130 engines too. First public appearence of Hondas is about to happen in Genova boat show October 1997.

itl posted 11-25-2007 04:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for itl  Send Email to itl     
Find also a website which says:

"The DF300 is the fourth Suzuki 4-stroke outboard engine to win an award of excellence since the DF70 was first honoured in 1997, evidence that Suzuki’s 4-stroke outboard technologies are highly esteemed in the industry."

Here is the link:

jimh posted 11-26-2007 12:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am not trying to split hairs, although perhaps it will come to that before we're done. Mainly I am interesting in seeing the advancement in horsepower that occurred with four-stroke motors and when each new level or horsepower was introduced.

So far not much about Yamaha has been given. Any Yamaha history available?

Peter posted 11-26-2007 07:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Per your request regarding 4-stroke Yamahas:

Model HP

1995: 9.9
1996: 9.9, 50
1997: 9.9, 50
1998: 9.9, 50
1999: 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 80, 100
2000: 4, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 80, 100
2001: 4, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 80, 100
2002: 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, 100, 115, 200, 225
2003: 2.5, 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 115, 200, 225
2004: 2.5, 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225
2005: 2.5, 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225, 250
2006: 2.5, 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225, 250
2007: 2.5, 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225, 250
2008: 2.5, 4, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 115, 150, 200, 225, 250, 350

Note that although Yamaha has done away with model year designations, these are the line-ups they had for each model year which begins in approximately July of the prior year, e.g., 2003 Model Year available approximately July 2002.

Peter posted 11-26-2007 07:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Note the development of the mid-range HP first, then the ends of the HP range.

Also, one mistake in the above, 2000 and 2001 also included a 115.

Tom W Clark posted 11-26-2007 10:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The Yamaha 9.9-HP High Thrust (the first high thrust model expressly designed for kicker use) four stroke was available at least as early as 1988

The Honda 7.5-HP four stroke was available as early as the 1975 model year.

brisboats posted 11-26-2007 08:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for brisboats  Send Email to brisboats     
[Contributed some information about outboards from 1950--we'll move this to its own thread at a later date--jimh.]
shipskip posted 11-27-2007 02:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for shipskip  Send Email to shipskip     
Slightly off-topic. [More great information about outboards from the 1950's. Again, we'll move this to its own thread.--jimh]
jimh posted 11-27-2007 06:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The history of the Bearcat engine is rather well documented in an article I wrote six and a half years ago and published here on CONTINUOUSWAVE.

I am more interested in the the past ten years, when four-stroke motors began to move out of the low-horsepower niche in which they had languished since 1970, some thirty years ago, and, thanks to regulatory pressure from the EPA and CARB, began to be developed into modern mid-range and high-horsepower outboard motors.

L H G posted 11-30-2007 07:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
First Mercury 50 HP 4-stroke - 1994. There was also a 9.9HP 4-stroke at this time.
Backfire posted 12-01-2007 10:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Backfire  Send Email to Backfire     
[More great information about outboards in the 1950--this will be moved to its own thread--jimh.]
jimh posted 12-01-2007 11:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
On the specific topic of the Bearcat 55 and its antecedents, please append any information you have about that motor to the discussion which has been reserved for that purpose:


Again, this discussion is interested in information about recent four-stroke outboard motors, mainly in the modern era.

It would be good to have a bit of history on Mercury, particularly their many engines which involved co-production with Yamaha in the 40, 50, and 60-HP range.

Peter posted 12-01-2007 07:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Mercury's 4-stroke line-up over the years

1995: 9.9, 50
1996: 9.9, 50
1997: 9.9, 50
1998: 9.9, 50
1999: 9.9, 25, 50
2000: 4, 5, 6, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90
2001: 4, 5, 6, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90, 115
2002: 4, 5, 6, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90, 115
2003: 4, 5, 6, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90, 115, 225*
2004: 4, 5, 6, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90, 115, 225*
2005: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90, 115, 200, 225**, 250, 275
2006: 2.5, 3.5, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90, 115, 135, 150, 175, 200, 225**, 250, 275
2007: 2.5, 3.5, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9.9, 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 90, 115, 135, 150, 175, 200, 225***, 250, 275

* Yamaha F225 painted black
** Both Yamaha F225 and Verado 225
*** Verado 225 only

The 2.5 thru 9.9, 25 and 30 all share the same powerheads as the Tohatsu 2.5 thru 9.8, 25 and 30. I believe these are joint venture products made in Japan or China. The specifications for the Mercury and Tohatsu 15s are not identical but are so close (1 mm of stroke different) that there would be no surprise to learn that both company's 15s come from the same plant.

Perry posted 12-02-2007 02:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
After some more research I found:

Honda 7.5 HP 1973
Honda 15 HP 1987
Honda 50 HP 1994

Chuck Tribolet posted 12-02-2007 11:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Peter, I'm pretty sure there are more Mercaha's than just the


cooper1958nc posted 12-03-2007 03:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for cooper1958nc  Send Email to cooper1958nc     
[Contributed some information about c.1960 obscure outboard.]
Peter posted 12-03-2007 07:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Chuck -- The 225 is simply a Yamaha painted black with a cowling modified by Mercury. The reason I called it out is for a couple of years there were two 225s offered.

The lower HP "Mercahas" or "YamaMercs" are joint venture products consisting of Yamaha built components married to Mercury built components or vice versa. I can never remember who made what components.

My Mercury table has a mistake. I failed to include 60 HP.

Tohsgib posted 12-03-2007 12:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
Suzuki came out with the 115 in 2000 I believe. The 140 came out a year later as a 2002 model. The 200-250 came in 2003 I think and the 300 in 2006.
L H G posted 12-03-2007 02:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
Regarding Peter's charts, a few more comments"

1. I believe both Yamaha and Mercury had the 9.9's and 50's in 1994. These were the Joint Venture engines where Mercury produced the block and internals, and Yamaha the heads and valve train.

2. for 2006-2008 model years, Yamaha lost the 30 HP engine, since in the 30, 40, 50 & 60 line, the powerheads were coming from Mercury, and in 2006 model year, Mercury dropped the 30 EFI from this platform (now mfg in China), and adopted the smaller Joint Venture 25 and 30 EFI's with Tohatsu. Yamaha was left out in the cold on 30HP, with Tohatsu evidently not wanting one of their JV products to go to Japanese competitor Yamaha. Supposedly, Yamaha is working on filling the 25-30HP niche with an engine of it's own, and maybe the 40-60's also. The fact that the Merc and Yamaha 40-60's are identical powerheads, is still a secret neither Company wants to talk about. I think Mercury is making them for Yamaha (now in the new China plant) under some strict confidentialty agreement.

3. Mercury's 2008 line is the same as the 2007, with the addition of the 300 HP Verado. The 6 cylinder 200 Verado has been replaced with the new 4 cylinder model.

jimh posted 12-03-2007 09:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Re the co-developed four-stroke motors of Yamaha and Mercury in the 40 to 60-HP range--these are well documented in the public documents of the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) investigation into importation of outboard motors made in Japan. Those documents show that Mercury made the cast block used in those motors, and Yamaha made the cylinder head, valve train, and other components. There was never any testimony which reported that Yamaha was buying complete engines from Mercury. All the testimony indicated just the opposite, that Mercury was buying complete power heads--and in the case of the 225-HP--complete engines from Yamaha. As far as I can tell there is only one source of information that indicates that Yamaha buys complete engines from Mercury--it is in a few articles posted here on CONTINUOUSWAVE. I do not recall any other corroboration that Yamaha is buying its engines from Mercury, but I would be pleased to have pointers to where I could find it.
jimh posted 12-03-2007 09:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This notion that Yamaha buys engines from Mercury and re-badges them has been introduced before:


"I have never really seen any definitive information that indicated that Yamaha buys [40 to 60-HP four-stroke outboards] from Mercury. There was a great deal of testimony about these engines before the USITC, and their history and development was discussed in detail. There is no mention about any sale of these engines by Mercury to Yamaha. In fact, Yamaha states clearly that the only four-stroke engine in the Mercury line which is actually made entirely in North America was the 25-HP Mercury four-stroke engine. (Prior to the Verado introduction.)

"I will be glad to stand corrected on this, but apparently during the several thousand pages of testimony before the USITC the folks from Mercury never seemed to get around to correcting this. Nor did they ever mention any relationship between them and Yamaha in which they said they sold engines to Yamaha for "re-badging".

"The testimony which was presented described these 40-60 HP four-stroke engines as being co-developed by Yamaha and Mercury, with Yamaha engineering the cylinder heads and Mercury the engine block. The engines are described as being built from components made in various places.

"It seems that an urban legend has arisen about these engines in which somehow these facts are twisted into some new incantation where Mercury is the manufacturer and sells this finished engine to Yamaha.

"I have to wonder how this would make sense, in as much as the engine would have to be shipped from Wisconsin to Japan and then back to the US. Mercury may continue to cast the block for this engine and sell that to Yamaha, but I don't think it is at all accurate to describe these engines as "Mercury" engines. They were co-developed in a five year period.

"I don't think that Yamaha buys the whole engine from Mercury and "re-badges" it. I think they might buy some blocks. The closest thing to a direct statement about these engines in the USITC hearings was a vague statement from Mercury that these engines were assembled with parts made by various manufacturers.

"So, again, if anyone really knows about these 40-60 HP four-stroke engines which appear to be made by both Mercury and Yamaha, please append your information.

"For me, I find the testimony of executives of Mercury to be more compelling than anecdotes told by Mercury dealers and mechanics.

"I think it such common knowledge that Mercury has purchased four-stroke engines from Yamaha and Tohatsu for years, and still plans to continue, that somehow pride has come into this equation and dealers want to take too much credit for the Mercury components which may or may not be in the Yamaha version of this engine."

--end of excerpt--


L H G posted 12-04-2007 02:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
It would be nice if someone would tell us why, in July 2005 (beginning of 2006 model year), Yamaha dropped their 30 HP engine, and still, in 2008 model year, does not have a 30.

In 2007, Yamaha dropped the 25 HP 4-stroke, and still, in 2008, does not have a 25 HP engine. Yamaha has no 4-strokes between 20 and 40 HP.

Why such a hole in offerings for this important 25 & 30 HP range?

Because both the 25 and 30 powerheads, manufactured by Mercury, are no longer being made by MERCURY. Instead, Merc has the hot new, lightweight 25's and 30's coming out of their JV plant with Tohatsu.

Confidentiality agreements are a common thing. My theory is logic, and logic only. Look at engine specs and offerings in detail, and you will see.

As Fox news likes to say, "We report, you decide"

Also, the Yamaha-Mercury joint venture engines were only 9.9 and 50 HP, not a 40-60 HP range. That is simply incorrect. Look at Merc and Yamaha catalogs of the 90's.

In 2002 (or thereabouts), Mercury brought out this new line of mid-range engines, 30 & 40 3 cylinder, 40-60 4 cylinder, which Mercury advertized were 100% Mercury, made in Wisconsin, and had EFI and SMARTCRAFT, a giveaway that Yamaha was not involved. JUST coincidentally at the same time, Yamaha introduced new carbureted 30's, 40's, and 60's (not 50's which were still on the older Merc produced JV blocks - probably had some left over and needed to use them up first), with EXACTLY THE SAME NEW BLOCK SPECS, but without Merc's EFI system, which Mercury kept to itself because of Smartcraft. WHO MADE THOSE IDENTICAL BLOCKS IF NOT MERC? Wouldn't there be patent and design infringement if Yamaha JUST HAPPENED to come up with the identical engine? Readers can use your own logic, and decide accordingly. But that's what I think, and it coincides with what I have heard from Merc & Yamaha dealers, who service both.

Merc's older 25 HP 4-stroke, made in the US, acknowledged here on CW, and also being supplied to Yamaha, was dropped as the Tohatsu plant came online, so Yamaha lost it's 25 also.

Hence, as I have said, Yamaha has no 25 and 30 HP offerings currently, but the boat mags have reported on working on replacements.

Further, I think all of this makes sense for both Merc and Yamaha. Yamaha developed the 75-115's, and Merc did the 25-60's. Seems to have worked exceptionally well for both of them, and helped them stay in the game quite well with the automotive based engine guys, Honda and Suzuki, who were using their already designed car engines as an advantage. What's the big deal as to who made what for who? Now Mercury and Yamaha are at the top of the 4-stroke game, with the big 300 Verados and 350 V8's.

Tohsgib posted 12-04-2007 02:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
The smaller 60-70 Suzukis were converted car/samurai engines. The 90-300 are designed for the marine world and not in cars from what I have read. Hence why they have offset crankshaft to move the weight more forward, can't have that on a car. Not sure about the smaller ones but I doubt too many cars ran 10hp engines or the such.
Perry posted 12-04-2007 04:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Perry  Send Email to Perry     
Same goes for Honda 75-225 HP Outboards. They were designed as automotive engines but the 2, 5, 8, 9.9, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 & 50 HP motors were designed as outboard motors. They started making these small HP 4 stroke outboards in the 60's and 70's and they probably make up a large portion of their gross outboard sales today.

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