James "Sonny" Crockett used a silver, blue and black 1986 Wellcraft SCARAB 38' KV for any water-borne activities his job may require throughout the majority of Miami Vice's run, usually pursuing criminals on Miami's numerous waterways. It replaced his Chris Craft Stinger from season 1.
While no explanation was given in the show for the change in Crockett’s powerboat between season 1 and season 2, the reality was the show’s producers wanted a boat with a racier look and feel. Chris Craft, the manufacturers of the Stinger, were originally set to provide the replacement powerboats, however they pressured Universal to purchase the new boats instead of leasing them, as they had done for season 1. The studio refused and as a result they moved to Wellcraft and the SCARAB.
As with the cars of Miami Vice, several popular music scenes in the show featured the SCARAB, including:
- "Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)" -- Crockett and Tubbs go to see Newton Windsor Blade on his yacht in "The Prodigal Son", marking the SCARAB's first appearance.
- "Eminence Front" -- a night time drug deal in "Killshot".
- "Yin and Yang and the Flowerpot Man" -- being chased by Francesco Cruz in "God's Work".
- "Running on the Rocks" -- Crockett pursuing an arms-dealing diplomat in "Baseballs of Death".
Crockett's SCARAB is first seen briefly when Crockett and Tubbs go to see drug dealer Newton Windsor Blade in the second season premiere "The Prodigal Son", but its first major appearance was not until the shootout at Stiltsville in "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", two episodes later. While the SCARAB would remain Crockett's primary means of aquatic transportation for the remainder of the series, he would occasionally use other boats when a specific situation called for it, most notably in "Lend Me an Ear". The actual SCARAB used in the series was for sale for about $55k in Miami in the mid 1980s.
As with the Stinger before it, several different SCARABs were used to portray Crockett's offshore boat. Initially two boats were used on the show; boats one and two were virtually identical in appearance, with only very slight differences regarding the engine cover and cabin doorway, and as such distinguishing between the two is virtually impossible when watching the show. Starting with season 4, a third boat was introduced that had several more obvious differences when compared to boats one and two, namely a silver hull below the waterline (as opposed to white) and a pair of double searchlights fitted on top of the arch.
A fourth and final boat appeared only in the episode "Miami Squeeze", and was on-screen for just 4 seconds. However, even in this brief time it can be seen that this boat had no arch (akin to the original boat used in the pilot episode). Owing to its incredibly brief appearance, little is known about boat four.
- Wellcraft produced and sold a copy of the boat used on the show, the SCARAB 38' KV Miami Vice Edition. Only 33 were made, although the unique color scheme could be ordered on other boat's in the company's range.
- In real life, Don Johnson is a powerboat enthusiast. As a result of the significant sales increase Wellcraft enjoyed following their boat's use on Miami Vice, the company gave Johnson an exact replica of the main boat he used while filming; afterwards, he would often be seen arriving to work in it.
- Johnson also worked with Wellcraft to design the 43' SCARAB Excel Don Johnson Signature Series, which was powered by twin 650-hp Lamborghini V-12 engines. He went on to race professionally for a few years in the OPT Tour (Offshore Powerboat Tour) in a 50 foot Revenge catamaran for Team USA.