Last year, Hardin Marine’s prototype Stage One (775-hp) and Stage Two (850-hp) turbocharger upgrade kits for out-of-warranty Mercury Racing 525EFI engines were the talk of the Miami Boat International Boat Show. And with the 2013 Miami Show just around the corner and plenty of buyer interest still out there for the for Hardin’s turbo upgrade systems, we thought we’d provide an update on their progress. So we caught up with Hardin Marine principal Scott Price. Here’s what he had to say.
SOTW: Are the Stage I and Stage II systems on sale at this point?
SP: While we have confirmed orders, the kit is not yet shipping as were waiting on delivery of a few items as of press time.
SOTW: When do you anticipate shipping your first systems?
SP: The objective is to ship our first kits by late spring. Vendor delays on castings have been our primary hold up. When we receive those few items we will be ready to go.
SOTW: What is the cost for each system?
SP: Pricing has not yet been finalized on the Stage Two kit as it looks to be less than originally thought due to the fact it was even easier to obtain the power levels once thought of. The Stage One kits will sell for $12,999.95 with exhaust.
SOTW: What did you learn in the development of these systems?
SP: This has been an exciting project for us. While we often have so many things in development at one time, this brought us the ability to truly design a purpose built turbocharger. The gap between the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and the aftermarket was a million miles apart. So bringing the modern end of technology into the aftermarket and incorporating technologies has been exciting for us. The ability to bring this kit to market will show everyone our commitment to turbocharging as we invested a huge amount of money into the production of our new water- cooled stainless steel turbochargers.
What we also learned was that the engine was very well receiving of the turbocharged characteristics. We also realized the power potential was far beyond our original estimates. This system will become a huge favorite of the modern era of custom engine builders with EFI tuning capabilities. What it really showed us was why Mercury has pushed so much of its effort toward the turbo program and our next turbo effort, while lofty, is going to truly give the end user an option again to something other than OEM power.
SOTW: What advantages do the turbocharging systems offer over supercharging systems?
SP: You’re asking a company that is not only a fan of supercharging, but also great friends with the people that built the supercharging platform that drives this industry today so I’m going to answer that question like this: Each system has it pluses and minuses. Each appeals to a different type of customer. Supercharging is far more user friendly and can be provided in an easier bolt-on type system.
Turbocharging is specific and there are a number of things that must be considered in its success. When a turbo is built and designed around a specific system it is awesome. Case in point, Mercury Racing’s 1350. Those components just weren’t randomly assembled—Mercury built that as a system with extensive testing. This is why our systems debut was built around a particular engine. That way we could showcase how when properly matched components are combined the result is sensational.