1988-1993 Sea-Doo SP 587 Specs and Review [Video]

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After its first unsuccessful attempt, Bombardier re-introduced the Sea-Doo PWC brand in 1988 by revealing the all-new Sea-Doo SP 587. This ski was built on a tiny V-shaped fiberglass hull and utilized a 2-stroke, 2-cylinder Rotax 587 “Yellow” engine rated at 56 HP.

If you want to find out more about the first modern Sea-Doo PWC, you’ve come to the right place.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this 1988 Sea-Doo SP review!

1988-1993 Sea-Doo SP Review

Bombardier entered the marine industry in 1968 by launching the world’s first mass-production personal watercraft.

Unfortunately, this early Sea-Doo didn’t become commercially successful, and the Canadian manufacturer abandoned its PWC division after the 1970 season.

But over the years, more and more powersport companies have emerged in the booming PWC market. The first big player on the field was Kawasaki (1972), followed by Yamaha in 1986.

What’s more, a few boutique manufacturers also tried their luck in this business, like the lesser-known Wet Jet.

Encouraged by the success of competitors, Bombardier returned to the game in 1988.

The 1988 Sea-Doo lineup was quite modest as it consisted of only one model, the Sea-Doo 5801. The ski was also known as Sea-Doo SP 587 or SP 5801. This ski made its debut in 1987 but eventually hit dealerships in 1988.

Unlike its weird, snowmobile-like predecessor, the tiny SP instantly become popular in the marketplace, and with good reason. This ski featured more advanced technologies and offered more power than competitor models.

The SP utilized an innovative  platform that measured 96 inches in length, 41.5 inches in width, and 36.2 inches in height. This 20-degree, semi-V hull was made of hand-laid fiberglass.

The craft was powered by a 580cc, 2-stroke twin Rotax 587 engine featuring a CDI ignition, oil injection system, and a single Mikuni BN38-34 carb. This engine was specifically designed for the marine environment and directly connected to the pump with a sturdy driveshaft.

(Surprisingly, the pump of its predecessor was driven by a snowmobile-like belt!)

This “Yellow” 587 Rotax engine was the power source of all Sea-Doo models from 1988 through 1991.

Unlike 4-stroke Sea-Doos, the engine of this early model was cooled by an open-loop cooling system.

Thanks to this lively engine, the 1988 Sea-Doo SP offered 56 HP at 5,750 RPM. Compared to today’s jet skis, this seems like a moderate performance, but in the late ‘80s, it was amazing engine power!

In contrast, the competitors Yamaha WaveRunner 500 and WaveJammer only offered 32 HP, while the Kawasaki JS550 had 41 HP.

The ski was propelled by an advanced Bombardier Formula pump developed and manufactured in-house. This axial-flow, single-stage jet pump housed a tiny, 140 mm impeller.

This setup enabled the Sea-Doo SP to reach a top speed of 40 mph under ideal conditions. Its 7-gallon fuel tank offered about 2.5 hours of riding time at full throttle.

Although the SP was rated for two people and had a load limit of 352 pounds, riding it with an adult passenger was virtually impossible. Let’s face it; this machine was an extremely small vessel that only weighed 365 pounds.

Even with one bigger adult rider onboard, its lightweight and narrow hull become quite tipsy, especially at lower speeds. Therefore, it could only carry a small child as a passenger.

The SP had some similarities to the unsuccessful 1968 model, like its bow and the wide footwells. But on the other hand, it utilized many advanced features like padded handlebars, upgraded grips, and a comfortable roomy seat filled with Polyurethane foam.

A huge drawback of this model was that it came without grab handles, which made re-boarding from deep water impossible. Although the SP was known for its low reliability, these issues weren’t unsolvable.

Compared to its successors, the 1988 SP is now very rare, so it’s likely that not too many were sold. The model had undergone many changes over the years until it was discontinued in 1998.

1988 Sea-Doo SP Specs Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the 1988 Sea-Doo SP specifications into these charts!

1988 Sea-Doo SP Engine Specs

Engine Specs1988 Sea-Doo SP
Engine type Rotax 587, 2-stroke
Induction type Rotary valve
Cooling system Water cooled
Exhaust system Water cooled, water injected
Starting system Electric start
Lubrication - type Oil injection
Lubrication - oil typeSea-Doo injection oil
Number of cylinders 2
Bore - Standard76.0 mm (2.992 in)
Bore - First oversize76.25 mm (3.002 in)
Bore - Second oversize76.5 mm (3.022 in)
Stroke64 mm (2.52 in)
Displacement 580.3 cm3 (35.4 cu.in.)
Compression ratio (uncorrected)11.5 : 1
Compression ratio (corrected)5.9 : 1
Engine maximum output37 kW (50 hp) @ 5750 RPM
Engine Maximum Torque76 Nm (49 lbf ft) @ 5500 RPM
Carburetor typeDiaphragm
Carburetor numberBN-38-34-45
Low speed mixture screw1-1/2 -2 turn
High speed screwN.A.
Idle speed1200 RPM
Fuel TypeRegular unleaded
Fuel return line orifice0.8mm (0.031 in)
Leak test (pop off pressure)55-76 kPa (8-12 PSI)

1988 Sea-Doo SP Drive System

Propulsion1988 Sea-Doo SP
Propulsion systemBombardier Formula pump
Jet pump typeAxial flow, single stage
Impeller rotationCounterclockwise
Impeller pitch 18°
TransmissionDirect drive
Coupling typeCrown splines
Reverse systemNo
Oil typeSea-Doo jet pump synthetic oil
Pivoting angle of direction (nozzle)28°
Minimum required water level for jet pump60 cm (24 in.)

1988 Sea-Doo SP Dimensions and Capacities

Dimensions and Capacities1988 Sea-Doo SP
Number of passengers2
Overall length244 cm (96 in)
Overall width105 cm (41.5 in)
Overall height 92 cm (36.2 in)
Weight166 kg (365 lb)
Load limit (passengers + luggage)160 kg (352 lb)
Fuel tank (including reserve)35 L (9.2 U.S. gal)
Fuel tank reserveRoughly 5 L (1.3 gal)
Impeller shaft reservoir - Capacity100 mL (3.4 U.S. oz)
Impeller shaft reservoir - Oil level heightUp to plug
Oil injection reservoir4 L (1.U.S. gal)
Fuel tank capacity29.1 L (7.7 gal)
Impeller shaft reservoir65 mL (2.2 US. oz)
Oil level height To lower plug
Cooling systemN.A.
Injection oil tank2.8 L (95 U.S. fl oz)

1988 Sea-Doo SP Electrical Features

Electrical Specs1988 Sea-Doo SP
Magneto generator output160 W @ 5500 RPM
Ignition system type CDI 4/5 p
Spark plug - Make and typeChampion RN4C
Spark plug - Gap0.6 mm (.024 in)
Battery12 V, 19 Ah
Ignition timing (BTDC) mm (in)2.18 (.086 in)
Ignition timing (BTDC) - Degrees19 ± 2 @ 6000 RPM
Starting systemElectric starter
Engine RPM limiter operation6500 ± 200
Battery12 V, 20 Ah
Starting system fuse8 A
Charging system fuse15 A

1988 Sea-Doo SP Materials

Materials1988 Sea-Doo SP
Air intake silencerThermoplastic
Flame arresterAluminum foam
Exhaust mufflerAluminum
Steering paddingPolypropylene
Fuel tankPolyethylene
Injection oil tankPolyethylene
SeatPolyurethane foam

1988 Sea-Doo SP Performance

Performance1988 Sea-Doo SP
Pump static thrust167 kg (367 lb)
Max. fuel consumption14 L/h (3.7 GPH)
Cruising range at full throttle2,5 h
Maximum speed64 km/h (40 mph)

These charts are for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.

Vintage Sea-Doo SP for Sale

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find a vintage Sea-Doo SP for sale. Since this ski was discontinued in 1998, most of them were scrapped or went to private collectors.

But with a bit of luck, you can find a used Sea-Doo SP for sale on Craigslist, eBay, PWC trader, and other jet ski ad websites. Also, you may want to visit some online Sea-Doo forums and Facebook fan groups.


As a takeaway, we’ve answered the most common questions about the 1988 Sea-Doo SP!

When was the Sea-Doo SP Introduced?

The Sea-Doo SP 587 was revealed in 1987 and was marketed from the 1988 model year. The SP family remained in production until the 1998 season.

Was the Sea-Doo SP a 2-Stroke?

Yes, the Sea-Doo SP 587 was powered by a 2-stroke engine.

How Much is a 1988 Sea-Doo SP Worth?

It’s hard to tell the exact price of an SP, as it depends on various factors like its year, condition, mods, and location. But as a rule of thumb, the prices of a 1988 Sea-Doo SP typically range from $500 to $2,000+.

What Size was a Sea-Doo SP?

The Sea-Doo SP was 96 inches long, 41.5 inches wide, and 36.2 inches high.

How Much Did a Sea-Doo SP Weigh?

The dry weight of the Sea-Doo SP was only 365 pounds. This means that it weighed less than half as much as the average jet ski these days!

What Kind of Engine Did the Sea-Doo SP Have?

The Sea-Doo SP was powered by a 2-stroke, 580cc twin “Yellow Rotax 587” engine featuring a Mikuni BN38-34 carb, CDI ignition, electric start, and open-loop water cooling system.

How Much Horsepower Did a Sea-Doo SP Have?

The engine of the Sea-Doo SP 587 provided ar 56 HP at 5,750 RPM and 49 lb-ft torque at 5,500 RPM.

How Fast Did a Sea-Doo SP Go?

The top speed of the Sea-Doo SP was 40 mph which translates to 64 kmh or 35 knots.

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