Silverton 37 Convertible
By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
"It was contemporary styling, versatility and an attractive price that helped to make Silverton's 37 Convertible one of the most popular boats in her class for more than 20 years. And, although the styling is now somewhat dated, in these tough times it is once again her versatility and price that are bound to attract the second and third generations of owners to these family cruisers.
The original Silverton 37 Convertible (pictured) was introduced with the 1980 model year and remained in production through 1989. In 1990 the 37 Convertible was restyled featuring slight changes in appearance, arrangements and performance. The latter 37 Convertible remained in production until 2001. The on-deck length of the two models varied by 4' - 37' vs. 37'4", beam varied by only an inch 14' vs. 13' 11" and the designed draft of 3' 7" was the same on both models. Despite these minor differences, the two iterations are close enough, I believe, to cover with the same review.
Although the "convertible" designation bestowed by Silverton suggests a boat intended the dual purposes of sport fishing and cruising, I think it's safe to assume the 37 Convertible has more appeal and more utility as a family cruiser than a sportfisherman.
The 37 Convertible's hulls are solid fiberglass laminates while decks and superstructures are composite constructed utilizing core materials for thermal insulation, weight reduction and strength. Early models featured balsa and plywood core materials while later models were built with closed-cell foam core. For the most part, the quality of construction, fit and finish is on a par with other production boats in the same price range although I would rate accessibility for inspection above average. Serious structural problems are rare with aging boats although fiberglass attachment "tabbing" failures are common in the areas beneath the forward cabin sole and at the attachment of partial bulkheads in forward hanging lockers and galley cabinets.
The seven-foot-long by 11-foot-wide cockpit provides room for lounging dockside or underway and if your interests tend towards fishing, there is plenty of room to accommodate several anglers. Post 1989 models offered a transom swim platform and transom gate as standard equipment and all 37 Convertibles had a mechanically attached, fiberglass composite bow platform for deploying and storing an anchor. One of the more popular features of all Silverton 37 Convertibles is a large flybridge with passenger seating on a bench forward of the helm console.
The interior arrangement of the first 37 Convertible featured a V-berth master cabin forward followed by hanging lockers and a U-shaped dinette to starboard and head with shower and galley to port. Up three steps is the saloon which, with nearly 360-degree visibility and open to the galley and dinette below, seems even bigger than it is.
Following the 1990 hull upgrades, in 1993 the interior was updated. The new design featured a queen berth in the forward stateroom and the option of a second stateroom with upper and lower bunk berths. The dinette was sacrificed in order to make room for the second stateroom. The galley was shortened up and the main saloon made slightly longer on 1993 and newer models.
While very early model 37 Convertibles and some later models were built with several different diesel engine options, the overwhelming majority of 37 Convertibles were powered by the standard twin, 454 CID Crusader Marine gasoline engines. These boats are light with rather substantial windage and can be blown around a bit in a stiff breeze but are otherwise easily handled. They are not, however, very fast. The older (1980-1989) models were lighter than the 1990-2001 models with less deadrise which actually results in the later models being just a bit faster than newer ones. With standard Crusader Marine gasoline engines, early vintage boats will cruise at 18-19 knots and top out around 29 while heavier newer models cruise between 15-16 knots and top out around 25. Fuel capacity was 300 gallons on older models and 375 on newer ones.
More than 40 years after John and Warren Luhrs purchased a New Jersey boatbuilder, Silverton Sea Skiffs, and renamed it Silverton Marine, this company remains one of this country's leading production powerboat builders. If this is the time for you to get into family cruising or move up in size, Silverton 37 Convertible offers affordable price, strong customer satisfaction and the backing of a company that seems well positioned to survive the tough times.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.