I bought this Nautique Excel from a seller in Indiana. Delivery was made via uShip since our vehicles were not yet ready to tow. One week after delivery and with a hitch finally installed, we towed the boat for the first time. After a successful first launch, we went out skiing! We were able to use it the first season up until mid October.
During those first months of ownership, I made some small tweaks. Besides the initial transfer of ownership stuff (titling, registration, etc.) I added a kneeboard rack and ski rack to the tower, and removed one of the two wakeboard racks. I added tower speakers, a new shift knob, new horn button and new dash switches. I also had some wood and carpet replaced on the trailer, and missing/broken trailer lights fixed.
Off-season upgrades will include removing the non-working mechanical speedometer and replacing it with a gauge style radio, replacing the glove box (one with no CD player cutout), replace existing speakers and adding an amp and sub. I also intend to do some gel coat work and potentially add some SeaDek to the boat.
I grew up boating and learned to ski behind the Ski Nautique 2001. I later drove Nautiques (and Hydrodynes) while working at the summer camp where I learned to ski. While working there, we would go out on a friend's '91 Barefoot Nautique; ever since then I have liked the v-drive format.
Flash forward many years, my kids were learning to ski at that same camp, and my desire to own a boat peaked. I still preferred the v-drive design, primarily for the interior space.
When I started looking, I missed out on an open bow Excel...a beautiful one owner boat (also in Indiana). I was bummed even though my wife wasn't yet sold on the whole boat idea.
Then I ran across and almost ended up getting a 176. However, I held off...worried about the potential lack of interior space and also the condition of the motor of that specific boat.
Next, I looked at a 196 that looked good in photos, but not so good in person. Even though it was a good deal, I couldn't get past how much work would need to be done cosmetically. The next boat was a later model 196, but I lost interest after reading about the issues with the gauges used in that era. Also, the design of the 196 would get better (in my opinion) with the redesign in 2002 of the storage behind the rear seat. The price was so good it still was a good buy - just not for me.
I kept looking, thinking I might get lucky and find a nice 196 for a good price, but every now and then I'd be drawn to either Barefoot or Excel listings. I ended up liking the Excel more, with the walk-through windshield and teak accents. At this point I think the only thing that would lure me away would be a Super Sport or Super AIr Nautique.
But as a first time boat owner, I really like the Excel and look forward to doing more updates.