What is the difference between a Club Car Precedent and DS?

There are several differences between the Club Car Precedent and the DS, but all of the differences fall under one of two categories: the technology powering the cart or the physical appearance of the cart.

This table offers a quick break down, but we cover all the differences in detail below.

The DetailsDSPrecedent
Body DetailsFiberglass construction, square appearanceFlexible construction, more rounded appearance
SeatsTwo separate seat pieces (1982-2000)Curved bottom seats and high seatbacks
WeightHeavierLighter
FrontSquare frontRounded front
Serial Number LocationBelow the passenger side glove box or behind the gas pedalInside or under the glove compartment on the passenger side
RoofThin plastic for basic weather protectionMolded plastic with built-in drain spouts to redirect rain
Price (Used)Usually cheaperUsually more expensive
Top SpeedAlmost identicalAlmost identical

Club Car DS vs Precedent

Club Car is one of the most well-known golf cart manufacturers in the world, and for good reason. They make reliable golf carts that stand the test of time.

The Club Car DS was first released in 1980, and it quickly became the gold standard for golf cart production. The DS was so successful that it continued to be manufactured into the early 2000s.

That’s a 20+ year run (even more impressive than the Chicago Bulls or the Golden State Warriors)!

Club Car’s next golf car, the Precedent, hit the scene in 2004.

Despite such a time difference in their conception, Club Car’s two golf carts have plenty in common.

Some would argue that the Precedent is just a luxurious DS, but there are certainly ways in which the Precedent took the golf car game to another level.

If you’re shopping for a cart to call your own, you may be wondering: “What is the difference between a Club Car Precedent and DS?

Let’s break it down the similarities and differences.

Club Car DS (The OG)

Production Years: 1982-early 2000s

We should start by giving credit where credit is due.

The Club Car golf cart design team broke new ground with the DS model.

In fact, many of the features we take for granted in golf carts today, such as a molded plastic roof and a passenger side glove compartment, were first implemented in the Club Car DS.

This model was quite innovative for the 80s and set an industry standard for the years to come.

With that as a backdrop, let’s talk about some of the DS features.

360-Degree Bumper (Similarity)

This feature is commonplace for most modern golf carts, and the Club Car DS played a role in making that happen.

A unique wraparound bumper provides personal safety to the passengers, while simultaneously protecting the vehicle’s frame.

Glove Compartment (Similarity)

While this feature may seem like a given, Club Car was actually the first manufacturer to include glove compartments in their golf carts.

When you’re on the golf course, you probably dump your phone, wallet and other crucial gear into this storage area without even thinking about it.

Thank Club Car for that.

Whether it’s a DS electric golf car or a Yamaha golf cart rival, you should expect to see a glove box.

A Roof Over Your Head (Similarity)

This may be hard to believe, but many early golf carts didn’t have a roof.

The DS featured a thin plastic roof that helped block some of the elements as you cruised around the golf course.

It’s hard to imagine a utility vehicle or cart without a roof, but that wasn’t always a given.

Electric Engine Model and Gas Engine Model (Similarity)

Club Car offered the DS model in both gas and electric options.

Quick side story: I bought my first electric golf cart in 2014. It was a 1987 Club Car DS that needed a full golf cart battery replacement.

I didn’t know how much golf cart batteries cost at the time, but I learned quickly (the hard way). I had no idea there was also a gas model to choose from.

Once I got the new batteries, I hooked my DS up to the old rusty golf cart battery charger. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the charger still worked (further proof that miracles do happen).

I enjoyed cruising around in that cart for the next 7 years before I sold it to a new owner.

Club Car offered consumers the choice of both gas and electric engine while keeping the models virtually identical otherwise. The energy source was the only real difference.

Top Speeds (Difference)

The more commonly seen electric DS has a top speed of about 18 miles per hour, while its gasoline counterpart gets nearly 15 miles per hour.

The Seat (Difference)

We’ll talk about this more later, but the DS seat is pretty basic and consists of a flat cushion on the bottom with two headrests suspended on a post.

The 2000 and up DS model made some changes in the seating department, but the more drastic upgrades exist on the Precedent.

Body Style & Construction (Difference)

This model has the typical “boxy” look that was true of most vehicles built during this era. In general, the edges of the cart were more “square.”

Fiberglass is the main material for the body shell, and unfortunately, it doesn’t handle impacts nearly as well as the materials used on the Precedent.

 What is the Difference Between a Club Car Precedent and DS?
Club Car’s Precedent i3 fleet golf car. Used with permission from Club Car.

Club Car Precedent (The Newer Kid on the Block)

Production Years: 2004-2016?

The Club Car DS maintained an iron grip on the industry for years, but eventually all good things come to an end.

In this case, one good thing was replaced with another.

Club Car launched their next model, the Club Car Precedent, in 2004. The Precedent is similar to the Club Car DS in its general purpose, but it clearly makes a number of helpful improvements.

Updated 360-degree Bumper (Difference)

While maintaining all the same functionality as the Club Car DS bumper, the Club Car Precedent’s bumper offers a sleeker look.

Rain-Guard Roof with Built-in Draining (Difference)

The thin plastic roof of the DS was upgraded for the molded plastic roof of the Precedent model.

This newer roof includes built-in draining solutions to prevent any water runoff.

Not that it really matters, but this roof looks cooler too.

Body Style & Construction (Difference)

Generally speaking, this cart has a rounded design and a more pleasing aesthetic.

Unlike the fiberglass shell of the DS, the Precedent uses superior materials that absorb impact better than fiberglass.

Improved Vehicle Handling (Difference)

The Club Car Precedent’s body adds more stability and vehicle control with many different tweaks/additions on the performance side of things. The most prominent additions include:

  • Downhill assist braking
  • Improved braking, including regenerative braking
  • Ability to program the speed
  • Exclusive SportDrive suspension and steering

The Precedent delivers a smoother overall ride.

Comfortable Seating (Difference)

The Club Car Precedent put an enhanced focus on upgrading the comfort of their golf cart. The seamless vinyl seats offer more comfort than the seats on the DS.

The Precedent’s seat covers also tend to last longer than those of the DS thanks to improved materials that are more weather and temperature resistant.

AlumniCore Chassis (Difference)

A new chassis design from a top independent chassis manufacturer, AlumniCore, offers upgrades in virtually every area. It allows the Precedent to be able to hold more weight, generate more power and drive smoother than the DS.

Electric Engine Model and Gas Engine Model (Similarity)

Just like the DS, there is Precedent gasoline golf car as well as an electric option.

Price Difference Between Club Car DS and Club Car Precedent

Generally speaking, a Club Car DS will be cheaper than a Club Car Precedent, since it’s the older and “well-loved” option.

Since Club Car doesn’t make new versions of either model, the price can vary based on how well the used cart has been care for.

Regardless, new golf carts are expensive, so if you’re willing to go the used route, you can literally save thousands of dollars.

Golf Cart Accessories for the DS and Precedent

You can find a lift kit, body kit, rear seat kit, light kit, brush guard, wheels and more for both models. The sky is the limit!

The golf cart part industry is expansive, but it’s also fair to say that finding parts for the Precedent will be easier than finding parts for the DS.

This is largely because more of those carts are still up and running. Aftermarket and OEM suppliers have more incentive to keep Club Car Precedent accessories in stock.

The Biggest Difference Between the Club Car Precedent and Club Car DS…

…is clearly the luxury features.

The Club Car Precedent takes all that the company learned from the DS and packages those insights into a better overall build.

In addition to a better overall ride and style vibe, some Precedent models also utilize technology that wasn’t available in the 80s and 90s, such as electronic scorekeeping.

We don’t cover the Club Car Onward in this write-up, but the company essentially took a similar strategy when they transitioned from the Precedent to the Onward.

So now you can answer the question: What is the difference between a Club Car Precedent and DS?

With knowledge comes power. Use it wisely.

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