HydroStream Vulture


  • Boat Type: 5 Passenger
    • XT: Modified-Vee
    • V-Bottom: Pad-Vee
  • Length: 20'
  • Beam: 89"
  • Transom Height: 23"
  • Recommended HP: 115 to 235
  • Approximate Weight: 875 lbs
  • Seating: 2 Buckets & Rear Bench (back to back front seats on 1979 and older models)


    If you are looking for a spacious interior in a non-bowrider HydroStream, it is tough to beat the Vulture.  Because the bow section remained the same size as the Viking, the driver sits fairly close to the front of the boat (hence its nickname "The Bus" as the Vulture is affectionately known). This can cause a problem - especially with the older models which had the heavy back-to back front seats. Because of the weight distribution, the Vulture needs help to fly. It needs horsepower and setback - preferably a lot of both. At least 10" of setback is usually required. The Vulture also benefits from any weight reductions possible such as lightening or even removing the floor. When set up correctly, the Vulture flies well and has great cornering characteristics.

    Because of the unfavorable weight distribution, the Vegas V-bottom was designed to solve this problem with its longer deck construction and placement of the driver and passenger further back.


    The Vulture debuted in 1977 and at one time became the best selling HydroStream model.  Think of a Viking with the added length placed in the center, because that is exactly what HydroStream did - they cut a Viking in two (right behind where the two windshield ends meet the sides of the deck) and added two feet to the middle. This made it a very easy boat to produce.  The first Vultures - maybe the first 15 or so - had square corners underneath and an extended pad.  It worked well, but it didn't fit Pipkorn's concave concept, so he filled it all in and made it concave.  The result was that the nose would not come up while running.  The problem was similar to the step experiment (see below): a vacuum was created in this back area - air couldn't get in and water couldn't get out and it was like dragging a pocket of water around until the hull could eventually break loose.  It took quite a few hours of testing to figure out the cause of the problem and the resulting solution, some of which had Pipkorn leaning over the transom analyzing the situation while underway.  HydroStream's answer was to add two short strips of aluminum underneath.  These would push the water back down and prevent the water from coming up around the edges to form a seal.

    Now-a-days, stepped hull boats are commonplace, but HydroStream actually experimented with that technology soon after the Vulture came out.  Pipkorn experimented with steps in a Vulture but found it did not work well on a 20' V-pad speed boat.  With their experiments, they found that the steps actually created a vacuum and would pull the nose down.  To prove it, Pipkorn drilled holes in the bottom of the boat and installed tubes in order to vent it.  While underway, one could actually pinch the tubes and make them whistle.  Other problems with the steps were that it did not help top end speed (the steps were out of the water anyhow), it handled squirrelly in the corners, and it was tough to build.  They also couldn't go across the pad with the step because of problems with air getting into the prop.  All in all, HydroStream found it to be a gimmick and one not practical for production.

    The Vulture tended to be a guinea pig for several experiments.  Ron Baker Sr. was involved with a stern drive Vulture project while at Chrysler.  It had a 360 cu. in. Chrysler with a Chrysler drive. It ran 83 MPH but had no chance to beat the mod inboard SK's and such.  However, as Ron said, "we learned a lot."