By Bill and Jan Stephenson, Michigan Chapter

Bill Stephenson has been a big Donzi fan since he was in his early 20s. Back then he worked for the company and bought his first Donzi in 1969…55 years ago. Today, he and wife Jan have three Donzis.

Donzi Corsican

Their oldest is an 18-foot 1968 Corsican with the serial number 2. Serial #1 was sold at the New York boat show right after it was made, so Donzi used #2 in their advertising photos. The color is called “Grumble Green”.

The Stephensons also have a 24-foot 1974 el Pescador center console (which won Best in Show at a 2002 Donzi factory sponsored meet in Sarasota, Florida) and a 24-foot Spitfire. The Spitfire has the same hull as the el Pescador but a different deck. Donzi only made eight of the Spitfire models. The Stephensons completed a lengthy restoration on the Spitfire and a 1973 Fino. The Fino factory was, ironically, next door to Donzi factory in Miami. 

As the Stephensons say, their Donzis have been at the center of some pretty seredipitous moments. One of those moments happened 25 years ago during a lunch in Port Huron when Bill saw that beautiful and very rare el Pescador. He tracked down the owner at that time who agreed to sell it. Flash forward 12 years later and the Stephensons were moving into a newly purchased home. Their el Pescador was sitting on a trailer in their new front yard when the caretaker of the seller’s estate walked over and mentioned his boss had a boat just like this one many years ago, only it was brown. Jan laughs remembering el Pescador’s original color had been brown. They soon realized that not only had they bought a boat, but they had also bought a house from the same person. 

Recently, the Stephensons completed a restoration on their Corsican in preparation for the ACBS Michigan Chapter Algonac show. As with any restoration, this wasn’t without its challenges. 

Now, the good news is the Stephensons were not planning on having their boat judged. With the restoration nearly complete, the only thing left was put in the newly commissioned front seats, built, they thought, to the same specs as the original Donzi seats. But, the seats didn’t fit. 

“It’s all part of the saga of restoring a boat,” says Jan. “Bill was going to leave the boat home on the trailer, but I said he should just take the trailer! He didn’t think that was funny.”

So, Bill called their boat rigger on Harsens Island. “He knew a guy on the island that also has a Corsican so Bill called him and they met.” As it happens, the man had original Corsican seats in storage and Bill was able to buy them. “What are the chances of that?” asks Jan, “Ten miles from our house!”

Another serendipitous moment and why they always say, when restoring a boat, its always good to “know a guy.”



  1. I also fell in love with the Corsican style and eyed one for many months on a route to and from work. Initially after viewing property records I was able to contact the owner and bought it. It was the same color (green) with a small block Ford Holman Moody conversion and Volvo drive. This paticular boat had a plaque on the dash “custom built for Bernie Little”. I also had a 2+3 in yellow white as well as a 2+3 i all black with a race prepped 351 Cleveland. I sold them all for a cigarette firefox 24-foot twin that I owned for 20 years. The firefox went to St Louis and about 14 yrs ago I bought and restored a ’79 Cigarette racing team 28ss. I still have the 28ss. One boat I regret selling was the Corsican. I was told the high part of the engine compartment was to house Fords current 6 weber with stacks set up they ran at indy. I located the carb set up, but at the last minute sold all the single engines Donzis I had in prep of a move to Stuart, Fl. I wanted a twin engine boat for the Bahamas. I took the firefox to the Bahamas every year for probably 10+ trips total, (abacos,bimini,etc,etc).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.