In the last Old Bass Boats article posted on October 5, 2022, we covered a boat company named VIP, or Vivian Industrial Plastics, from Vivian, LA. In that article I mentioned it was the first time I’d seen the boat company advertising in any of the big bass magazines. Also, as I pointed out in that ad, VIP said they had “30 Great Models for 1978.”
I just so happen to have a couple of their late 1970s and early 1980s catalogs and as I promised last week, I’m posting them for you today.
When VIP mentioned in their ad from 1978 that they had 30 great models for 1978, I’m not sure if they meant boats overall or bikini-clad women. You’ll see from the two catalogs that I’m going to post here they had a large number of boats but an equal number of other “models” to promote. I’m not sure what year either of the catalogs are from, but I have to place them around the late 1970s and early 1980s based on the outboards present.
In the first catalog we’ll look at, which I’ve estimated to be from the late 1970s, VIP is showcasing what I guess is their full lineup of boats for the year. In the catalog I count 16 models of which, 5 are bass boats and one a fishing/bass boat. We’ll concentrate on the bass boats but there are a couple of things I’d like to point out throughout the catalog as well.
Late 1970s VIP Catalog
This catalog starts out just as many boat manufacturer’s catalogs would. A cover with a couple boats resting on the water, blue skies – an open invitation for some fun. The next three pages provide a collage of images of their various boats. They’re all great shots except for one, on page two. Not only is the image one I wouldn’t have chosen for this catalog, VIP placed it smack-dab in the middle of the page. You see what I’m talking about? Yep, the ceiling of that cabin isn’t carpeted nor finished in any way. I hope the lady in the pic didn’t get harmed by any errant strands of fiberglass during the shooting of this catalog.
The next 12 or so pages of the catalog feature their pleasure boats. Then on page 15, things turn to the important subject, bass boats.
The first boat in the lineup is the C5. Touted as the Combo-15, VIP credits this boat with being “Half Pro Fishing Boat and Half Family Runabout.” At 15-feet 2-inches, it’s a bit small for a family of four but I’ve seen a lot of weird things on the water over the years.
The boat was rated (BIA rating) for a 75-horse motor, had a beam of 65 inches, and weighed in at 675 pounds. It could handle up to 710 pounds of people and a maximum load of 1,095 pounds. Pretty impressive for a 15-foot boat, but that was before the U.S. Coast Guard got in the picture.
A view of the entire interior makes it difficult to see what exactly this boat offers. Personally, I don’t know how more than three people could honestly fit in this boat unless one person sat on the floor. Also take note of the front deck – or lack thereof. I’d really like to see the port interior side to see if there’s a rod locker or another seat.
Turning the page your greeted with two of VIP’s H-15 series boats, which stood for High Performance Series. The opening image is awesome until you really take a look at it. Nice pad field, two boats side-by-side, both anglers upfront, a Tackle Tamer box in the green boat. Both anglers have rods in their hands but wait, both trolling motors are in the stored position! Seriously!
The H-15 boat was a single console while the H-15DC was a dual console. The boats were both 15-feet 5-inches in length with 73-inch beams and rated for 90-horse motors. At least VIP recognized how small the boats were and made the drivers and passengers bench seat a fold-down with Astroturf on the back to extend the deck.
Continuing on with their High-Performance Series of bass boats, VIP shows off their H-17. The boat in the image has to be the H-17 Single Console, 17-feet 2-inches in length with a 74-inch beam. The boat also came in a dual console model (H-17DC) with the same specifications.
Both boats were rated for 125-horse motors, which is a bit less than their competitors’ models of the same length. Still, the boat in the image looks to be running well, motor at the right angle and some decent hull lift for a boat of this caliber.
The ad we featured in the last Old Bass Boats article was their H-17 Tournament. That boat came with an I/O and isn’t featured in this catalog, which leads me to believe this catalog might be older than that 1978 ad.
W-15_WWC and W-16-WWC
Here are a couple of cool little bass boats that scream the early 1970s. What I’m not sure about is their name, Wheel and Well. Both boats feature casting chairs for and aft, with console steering and storage under the seat. The lack of casting decks was still popular with a large population of the angling public, hence the proven old design of this style boat.
The difference between the two models was one was 15-feet 2-inches and the other 16-feet 3-inches. The 15-foot model had a beam of 65 inches and was rated for a 75-horse motor, while the 16-foot model had a beam of 66 inches and was rated for a 90-horse motor.
Closing out the catalog, VIP let the potential customer know that they made their own trailers to fit their boats, something few companies did back in the day. Then on the inside cover, VIP, using their acronym, spelled out what they felt about their boats and company.
Let’s move on to the next catalog.
Late 1970s or Early 1980s VIP Catalog
This catalog is much smaller than the catalog presented above but I think it’s safe to say that it is from a later year. I say that because there is one model in here that has had drastic changes made to it compared to the other version.
Of the seven boat models, I have to delineate that I believe, shown in the catalog, four are fishing/bass boats. We’ll concentrate on those here.
The fact that VIP is now offering a V-hull boat fits in with the time as all serious bass boat manufacturers are coming out with v-hulls during this period. VIP’s HPV-178 had a 17-foot 7-inch-long hull coupled with an 84-inch beam and was rated for a 150 horse motor.
But a deeper dive into the standard features provides a better look into what VIP was offering the angler. For example, all of their storage lids are made of aluminum. Not many boat companies were doing that at the time. It also had an adjustable driver’s seat and dual cable steering. Again, those features were not offered on many boats in the day.
At just over 1,000 pounds and with a 175 hung off the stern, this boat had the possibility of moving out. They also state that the boat had lightning-fast acceleration and didn’t “chime” walk under “normal operating conditions.”
The second boat VIP was touting was their 19-foot 2-inch HPV-190DC. Now this boat is starting to look like something that would not only move, but could be mistaken for a boat from the late 1980s. At 19 feet, the boat was rated for a 200-horse motor, had a 90-inch beam and weighed roughly 1,400 pounds.
Again, this boat has aluminum lids, adjustable driver’s seat, two livewells, fully instrumented dash and other features. The only thing I don’t like about the boat is the walk-through windshield. That takes away from the boat’s lines in a big way. Still, it’s a look into the future of bass boats.
I mentioned earlier that there was a boat model that had some drastic changes in this catalog compared to the catalog presented earlier. That model was the Combo-15. In the earlier catalog, the Combo-15 didn’t feature a rear casting deck and instead had back-to-back seating as well as a rear swivel chair placed on the lower deck.
In this catalog, there’s been a big change to this boat, making it look more like a standard-issue bass boat. Front and rear casting decks with side-by-side driver and navigation seating. It also had a lockable rod locker and aerated livewell, two features not mentioned before. The last time, though, they mentioned it was a combo-bass/family boat. This time there is no mention of the family. I wonder why they didn’t just call it a bass boat.
The final fishing boat in this catalog is the V6 Fisherman. At 15-feet 9-inches in length, this boat sported a 76-inch beam and was rated for an 85-horse motor. To the anglers who had to placate everyone in the family, this boat could do it all – although probably not that well.
It’s the same old adage, “jack of all trades, but master at none.” It holds true with fishing boats. But, a huge number of bass anglers fished out of craft like this back in the day and made it work. This style boat was so popular that they’re still made today in one form or another.
Well, that’s about all I have with respect to VIP. If I come across any more VIP catalogs, I’ll be sure to share them with you. Meanwhile, I have a stack of other boat company catalogs I need to share with you. I don’t want this to become the Bass Boat Archives website but if you as readers want more, please let me know. I’m just wary to post a bunch of them all at once. Oh, and if any of you know what years these catalogs are from, please let us know in the comment section below. To view the entire catalogs check out the galleries below. Click on the first image and scroll from there.
Gallery Late 1970s VIP Boat Catalog