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  • '87 Malibu Sunsetter, Rebuilt and Modernized Interior

    • Year: 1987 Brand: Malibu Model / Trim: Sunsetter Cost: $1500-$1999 DIY or Professional Install: Professional Install

    This project was done around 2008, and seemed necessary after having to gut the 1987 Sunsetter due to rotten stringers and floors.  Once that structural project was completed with modern materials (new stringers, fiberglass and composite flooring), I couldn't just reinstall the 80's era interior or it wouldn't be right.   Plus the seat backs were also made of wood, were soft, and needed rebuilding.  I've come to believe outside of the hull, those boats had no protection against water.  

    So I took each one apart one by one, and replicated the seat bases one by one.  Also rebuilt the bow so that every part of that interior was new.  Unlike when the boat was built, this time the seat backs were reproduced but received multiple layers of fiberglass and resins to waterproof them and provide structural integrity.  This was fairly painstaking, and it shows hand constructed boats of this era were not very symmetrical in their construction. If I were to do it today, I'd have done all composite, but this update will still last a lifetime.

    The rotten wood and vinyl were removed.   New seat bases were constructed and waterproofed based on the original templates.  But when it came time to replace the seat vinyl, we had some decisions to make.  I figured it was a blank canvas at this point.   I also had new carpet installed over the new floors.  

    I sketched up some drawings of what I thought would look good -- more modern, but still fitting for that era boat hull and accents.   In fact I went through all the current (2008) boat brochures and picked out my favorite schemes.   After talking to a few people at the Malibu factory about materials, I was referred to one of their own interior specialists at the time when the Merced factory was still there.   He made some suggestions (and improvements) to the designs to work better with these sizes and layouts, I gladly took them, and we made it happen.

    New skins were made using Malibu's 2008 vinyl with newer styling and more robust materials.   We also decided to replace all the foam with the latest and greatest.  Essentially I ended up with a 2008 interior in a 1987 boat.  

    Could not have been happier with the way the boat turned out!  I loved the classic look of the original interior, but I would not have traded it for anything after the project was complete.  Hats off to the good folks at Malibu who helped with the materials.  They were very supportive, and that experience probably steered me to buy another Malibu later.  This boat is a one of a kind (see the other projects re: stringers, transom, dash, custom fabricated wedge) and then went to an even better project guru (MartinArcher), who gave it a custom-fitted Titan III tower, ballast, surf gate and his world renowned Wake Logic custom controller for wake devices and more.  























    User Feedback

    I just broke this project up into multiple parts.  I remember how hard it was to find examples of specific parts of the project so hopefully Wake Garage's database with sections will be more helpful to those just looking at specific areas of restoration.

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