Originally Posted by SailingJackson
Although there are others who will disagree, they're basically very similar. It's like Ford/Chevy/Dodge. Personally I'm deeply in the Catalina camp, but realistically they're all good boats. Unless, of course, you talk to a Tartan, Sabre, Island Packet owner. Then you'll learn that they're all junk. Just like asking a Mercedes/Audi/BMW owner what they think about Ford/Chevy.
Of the production boats I think the Catalinas have the greatest following and resale value. There is a difinate difference between the 3 brands you named and some of the other boats. The difference may come in quality of interior fit, accompanying equipment, differences in hull thickness and materials etc. The resale values of boats is a strong indication of what their build is like. For instance see how much a boats has depreciated % wise in similar years (10) on yachtworld.
No boat is junk. I am not sure Catalina has the greatest following as there are many benetaues sold abroad. They have a loyal follwoing as do all the other brands. Every body buys the boat that fits their needs. Some are made for creature comforts, others are made for sailing abilities, others for safety at sea in heavier conditions, others for durability over time ( these will have better resale value). You have to decide what important. Look beyond the shiny bling and wide open cockpits and look for proper handholds, reliable engines, well put together joinery work, safe wide gunwhales to go forward on. sloped slippery coachroofs, proper anchoring equipment and cleats, backing plates under equipment with stress loads.
Do your research, ask questions ( you will get many opinions for you to sort out). Try and get a ride on a few. Settle on 3 and then search YW for the best proce and condition of your choices.