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Kawasaki Celebrates 50 Years of Jet Ski Watercraft Exhilaration

'Good Times' on the water for half a century.

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. is honoring the golden anniversary of its iconic Jet Ski personal watercraft (PWC) products with the 50 years of exhilaration celebration.

When the original Jet Ski watercraft debuted in 1973, it created a whole new lifestyle of having fun on the water. What began with a liquid-cooled, 400cc two-stroke twin engine; pivoting handlepole system; and ability to slice turns and skim over waves has evolved to a supercharged, 1,498cc inline four-stroke marine engine. Despite the technological evolutions, the soul of a Jet Ski remains recreating the feeling of riding a motorcycle on the water. 

“For 50 years, Kawasaki Jet Ski has been synonymous with ‘Good Times’ on the water,” said Bob O’Brien, director of marketing. “As an early leader in the PWC category, Kawasaki and Jet Ski developed a fun-loving lifestyle centered around the exhilaration of combining speed with control.”

Bringing the stand-up Jet Ski watercraft to market in the early 1970s was among the first projects of the new Kawasaki research and development department in Southern California. After creating several prototypes, both flat-hull and V-hull stand-up models were launched on a trial basis. Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., U.S.A. in Lincoln, Nebraska, later started full production of the Jet Ski watercraft in 1975. 

Kawasaki continued to innovate in 1986 and introduced the first mass-produced “sit-down”: the Kawasaki X2. This two-passenger watercraft led the way for the Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra and Jet Ski STX lineups of three-passenger runabouts. Development continued as Kawasaki engineers tweaked hull design and engine displacement to produce the greatest amount of smiles per gallon.

For the 2007 model year, Kawasaki introduced its first supercharged personal watercraft, the Jet Ski Ultra 250X. This Jet Ski was built with Kawasaki Ninja heritage, as the engine was derived from the 1,498cc powerplant of the Ninja ZX-14. 

In 2017, Kawasaki went back to its stand-up roots, introducing the Jet Ski SX-R, its first four-stroke stand-up Jet Ski, powered by the same naturally aspirated, 1,498cc engine used in its runabout models. The introduction of the Jet Ski SX-R continued to show Kawasaki’s dedication to the PWC category, as it is continuously updating and innovating its full lineup of Jet Ski products, including class-leading Jet Ski Ultra 160 and Ultra 310 models.

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