“We’ve sold five 201s in the last six to seven weeks,” said Jimmy Garrison, owner of All American Aircraft in Boerne, Texas, a company that specializes in used Mooneys.
From Success to Stress
When the M20J first hit the market, aggressive marketing of the airplane’s ability to break the 200 mph mark with a 200 hp engine helped increase sales by nearly 200 percent from 127 M20Fs in 1976 to 377 M20Js in 1977, even though the price tag had surged to around $45,000 with all available options. Mooney’s executives seem to have interpreted the explosion in sales to be a direct result of the increase in speed, and if they did they were probably right. Only two years after the J model emerged, the 210 hp Continental TSIO-360-equipped M20K was introduced — an airplane nicknamed the 231 for its top mile-per-hour speed. Apparently the marketing department had learned a lesson from the 201.
But the focus on speed may have been excessive.
“Faster, faster, faster. That’s all they cared about,” said Wheat, referring to the Mooney management at the time, and new, faster M20 designs continued to emerge from Kerrville.
The 231 did extremely well for the first couple of years, but the price for the additional speed was significant with the higher fuel burn and increased purchase and maintenance costs of the six-cylinder, turbocharged engine. These, combined with product liability issues (which made aircraft ownership prohibitively expensive and eventually led to the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994), had such an effect that Mooney has yet to sell more than 100 of any of its models since the early 1980s.
Regardless of the increased cost, Mooney decided to focus on the faster models and rolled out the last M20J in 1998. Since then, sales have continued to decrease, and after the recent economic downturn, the Mooney factory in Kerrville was forced into a virtual standstill. The last of the M20-series airplanes came off the aged factory floors in 2010. That final airplane was an Acclaim — the fastest single-engine airplane produced to date, with a top speed of 242 knots and a price tag well north of $600,000.
The owners who are fortunate enough to own a 201 seem to be very happy. With his ownership experience with several types of airplanes, including the G35 Bonanza, the Cessna 182 and the RV4, Norklun claims his Mooney 201 has exceeded his expectations in every way. The 201 is one airplane that seems to have hit the sweet spot of speed and economy right on the money — and yes, that’s with one “o,” not two.