The S&S designed Hughes 38 built in 1968 shared the identical hull with the Northstar 38 of the mid 70's and later Hughes 38's through the final hull in 1981. From the toerail down they are all 99% identical. In '69 Hughes sold to US Steel but they didn't change thecompany name to Northstar until '71. In '77 Hughes bought the company back and immediately changed the name back to Hughes. Many of the same workers stayed with them through all owners.
I have managed marina yards on both coasts and am quite familiar with all three versions. I own a 1980 Mk 3. An aquaintance in NS had a Mk 2 and a friend here in BC has a Mk 1. The Mk 1 & 2 look very similar but the latter saw the lazorette removed and cockpit moved aft to the transom. The saloon moved aft and gave a slightly larger head and V-berth. Only the Mk 1 had the stbd quarter berth. The Mk 1 has a tiller and the Mk 2 & 3 have a wheel. The main change in the Mk 3 is a (the modern) more rounded coach roof design, which unfortunately resulted in narrower side decks.
All were built with an Atomic 4, some UJ and some UJR with the Paragon 2:1 reduction gear. Having the engine below the cabin sole allows excellent access to all components. The aft most 1/3 of the keel is hollow and it would take a lot of water to ever flood the engine. The propellor is deeper and farther forward than most boats, so prop-walk is negligable in reverse and it is less likely to foul on a line that falls over the side. The bevel edged keel frees itself more easily from soft-bottom groundings, building less bottom suction than flat/squared off designs. However the boat will usually not sit flat on a tidal grid without a bow crutch for forward support.
The boat sails well on all points but is a bit cumbersome on a dead run. It will pull hard close hauled to 30 degrees off the wind. The narrow stern IOR design allows the waterline to grow with speed (speed = more speed), but does tend to hobby-horse in short choppy wind-vs-current standing waves. I have sailed her off the coast of Nova Scotia, beating into 30 kts wind and +6' seas, and she handled it like she was on rails. Still, the Hughes 38 is a lighter build than many 38's of the era, and remains a racer-cruiser with decent offshore capability. Capt Goodlander did extensive modifications to his Wild Card, turning her into a heavy open ocean cruiser.
At 10' 2" the Hughes 38's are narrower than most 38 footers, but this has allowed us to fit into guest slips that were too narrow for other shorter boats. Designed to sleep 7, we find it crowded beyond 4 on board.
Some weak points show with age. Holes for deck fittings were not filled and redrilled, so many boats can suffer wet balsa deck cores when the bedding breaks down. This can be expensive to repair so I recommend re-bedding everything before the leaks start. Most chainplates are hiddden behind woodork and inaccessable to surveyors, so it may be an issue with some insurance companies. The dry exhaust water jacket will freeze and split if not drained when on the hard in northern climates. The aftmost half of the dry exhaust is hose that will dry out eventually and should be checked every season and replaced when dry-cracking. The Mk 3 has an excessive amount of thruhulls. Mine has 10 below the waterline and three under the rear overhang. Original gate valves should be changed to ball valves. Original wiring was not tinned and has become brittle with age. The DC system is adequate but the 115V on my Mk 3 was poorly designed... Truely not suitable for a garden shed, but I don't know if this held true for all years.
The best source of info on the Hughes 38 and it's company history is from Robert Hess at: History of Hughes Boat Works
Sorry about the long post, but over the years the internet has been filling up with mis-information about the Hughes 38's being different boats. Over their build-life, from 1968 through 1981, they were all built from identical hull molds with many of the same craftsmen. Except for the Tall Mast version they all perform the same and all versions carry the same basic handicap rating. The classic design is dated, but so are 57 Chevy Nomads and I still like them too.