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Deciding between ‘97 Malibu VLX w/ Wakesetter Package and ‘03 Malibu Wakesetter 21 XTi

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Hi all,

I’m new here, so forgive me (and go easy on me 🙃) if this isn’t a proper post or the right place to post. 

I’m in the market for a used Malibu boat, and I’m a Malibu novice because I grew up with Nautiques and MasterCrafts. I just keep hearing amazing things about Malibus and I’m convinced they’re the best for my family and me. I’m late 30’s with 3 young kids under age of 6yo, and I’m looking for something that’s handle everyone and their “skiing needs” over the next few years. I slalom but my nieces and nephews wake surf and wakeboard. My kids and I will likely get into the latter as well. Translation: slalom is less of a priority. A great quality boat that’s multi functional is what I’m looking for. I’ll stress great quality. Those with young kids know we ain’t got time for a bunch of issues. 

Anyway, I have a small(?) budget of ~25K, I’m in Alabama, and I’m looking at two boats in particular:


Note: it has 1,000+ miles but the new engine has ~150 hours. 


Note: it has 1,050 miles on it


I’m curious if anyone has any thoughts, ideas, comments, questions, concerns, etc., for me. E.g. Am I getting ripped off? What questions should I be asking other than the usual? 

Again, I have no idea if this is the place to post this or if anyone is even interested in commenting. Just trying to get as much info as I can before joining the Malibu family!

Thanks y’all!

- K

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The 97 Sunsetter has some nice upgrades (GPS PP, stereo system, plummed ballast, tandem trailer) but that dated interior is a killer on resale value.  The owner has done a nice job keeping up with upgrades.  1000 plus hours on the boat is not terrible but getting up there.  I know it has a new engine but the tranny, Vdrive, and basically everything else is 23 years old.  Some stuff will eventually break and they don’t make a lot of the parts anymore. Just something to consider but you will run into this a lot boat with your budget.  These boats are well built and those thing tend to be “bulletproof”  (Tranny & vdrive) but stuff breaks or needs replaced eventually.   It has the SV23 hull that is a good skiing and wakeboarding boat and is capable of surfing with the right amount of weight.  Two 400’s in the rear and a 650 in the center isn’t enough though.  You have to slam these boats and the freeboard just isn’t there.  I’m not comfortable putting 2k of ballast in then taking my family with young kids out on it but that’s just me.  

With all that said IMO the Sunsetter is a tad overpriced and the owner is trying to up sell.  If you pay 25k you will be overpaying.  Like I mentioned the boat has some nice upgrades but just not enough to fetch that price.  You will be able to find newer 2000-2004 ish Wakesetters In that price range.  You might have to take a road trip to find the right boat though. Go onto onlyinboards.com and start searching Malibu’s under 30k and you will get a good feel on pricing. The seating arrangement alone is a pass for me. 

The XTI is a direct drive boat vs the Vdrive Sunsetter which is generally fetch a lower value but it’s also 6 years newer.  Same SV23 hull.    You will also struggle to get a good surf wave but it can be done (again with a lot of weight).  Something to consider when you get the itch to eventually upgrade.  Will ski really well at higher speeds and wakeboard well.

Search this sight and you will find endless information on both these model and others in that era.  The more you know the better prepared you will be when it comes to buy.  If you have someone who owns a inboard maybe have them come along when you got look at them.  Good luck.  

Edited by RedWakesetterVLX
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