I can't tell you much about the history of Tristars, but I have one. After a long hiatus from owning boats including a SN, I purchased a neglected '88 Tristar 190 with 387 hours in May. The boat sat in a shed unused and unlicensed since 2004. This boat was pitiful insofar as appearance was concerned, but the first time I saw it, I knew it had potential. The seller put a rebuilt carb on it and we tested it using a portable fuel tank so as not to use the old fuel on board. It ran in the water just fine. Every instrument worked including the built-in depth finder. We agreed on a very good 'As Is' deal and brought it home. For 4 intense weeks, I put a lot of sweat equity into it and about $2500 for new disc brakes and actuator assembly on the trailer and the purchase of tires, boat cover and bimini top. I replaced the fuel/water separator and cleaned out the fuel tank as best I could, replaced the battery, the valve covers and gaskets, the alternator belt, all Tristar and Mastercraft decals, and compounded and waxed the hell out of it. The upholstery was intact with some wear, but I could not remove the mildew no matter what I tried, so I read up on vinyl dyes (as opposed to vinyl paint) and started dying all the vinyl upholstery with a product I purchased from Parasol Inc. in Canada. (S&H is a killer, but this stuff is really good).
The side plexiglass windshield panels are a little cloudy and someday, I hope to find replacements for those.
We have been enjoying this boat since late June. My son, who owns a '91 Pro Star 190, says the wake is 'almost' as good as his for slalom skiing and maybe a bit better than his for wake boarding. I have started skiing again and so has my wife. I've even fished a few times in the boat. Hey! I'm 64. The point is we really like this boat, and I might add it runs strong and sounds awesome. We've had 5 adults onboard and for cruising, it's fine. A little more floor space would be nice and rough water is not its forte, but I'd say you will not find a better starter open bow MC for the money.