The first Sundancer, a 24-footer introduced in 1974, melded express boat and cruiser with its clever midcabin design. Since then, hundreds of Sundancer models up to 68 feet have been launched and each has served as a telltale in terms of market direction. Sea Ray is not clairvoyant—it simply leads with its investment in product development. Today, Sea Ray's PD&E (product development and engineering) facility in Merritt Island, Florida, is flanked by a state-of-the-art computer-controlled five-axis mill that can cut tooling for a boat up to 60 feet in length. Nearby, an automated cabinet-making plant, opened in 2008, turns rough stock into virtually faultless finished product. It is here on Sea Ray Drive that the 540's design germinated, her tooling was cut, a prototype was built, and production began.