The birth of Riva Handcrafted Boats dates back 1842, when a young Pietro Riva began repairing and building yachts on Lake Iseo in northern Italy.
The 1950s and 1960s saw his great-grandson, the legendary Carlo Riva, creating a range of wooden-hulled speedboats that became the epitome of luxury speedboats of this jet-set era.
Carlo used Chris-Craft and Chrysler engines in his classic Riva yachts.
We trace the history of the most popular classic Rivas of all time:
The first twin-engine classic Riva yacht
The Tritone was built from 1950-1966. Riva built 221 of the standard Tritone version, while only 21 of the more desired Super Tritone hit the water.
With an overall length of nearly 8 metres, the Super Tritone is a long, powerful version of Riva’s Tritone. The value of the Super Tritone is €200,000-€300,000.
Riva Tritone Special
The rarest Riva speedboat
It was a well-known fact that Riva owners were the rich and famous. Carlo Riva was also not in the habit of giving anyone special treatment. However, he broke this rule for the Como industrialist, champion sailor and Riva patron, Achille Roncoroni, who wanted the best, fastest and largest Riva ever.
In 1960, Roncoroni became the proud owner of a one-off version of the Tritone Special model classic Riva yacht, an 8.3-metre wood-clad wonder powered by two high-performance marinised Cadillac Eldorado V8 engines, each producing 325hp to push the boat to a stunning 60mph.
The unique interior had red, white and blue front seats that could recline to let occupants sunbathe in relative privacy. The dashboard also featured sparkling, chrome bezel instruments befitting the Cadillac-powered Special.
Roncoroni kept Ribot III until 1970 before selling her on to the second owner, who has owned this classic Riva ever since.
Interestingly, Carlo Riva ensured Ribot III remained a one-off, even turning down a request for a similar craft from King Hussein of Jordan.
The most expensive classic Riva yacht
Riva delivered the original Riva Aquarama line from 1962 to 1972. During this period Riva sold 288 classic Riva Aquarama yachts and 203 Super Aquarama. The Aquarama Special then emerged, running from 1972 to 1996 with 278 boats built.
The most expensive classic Riva ever built was probably an Aquarama, which crossed the block at Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida, back in 2011, for an impressive $975,000. Bidders from around the world competed to own the boat. It was considered to be extra special because it was the last of the original, wooden-hulled Riva handcrafted boats sold to the public.
Riva built Hull No 774 in 1996 and delivered new to the founding family of the giant Sony Corporation on 23 December 1998. In addition, it was one of six “End of the Era” commemorative editions produced. Its owners, however, clocked up fewer than 20 hours aboard her in 12 years.
Riva Aquarama Lamborghini
The fastest Aquarama in the world
Known as the Ferrari of the boating world, the Aquarama was the most famous of Carlo Riva’s luxury Riva handcrafted boats. Ironically, it was two Lamborghini engines that made the fastest Aquarama ever built.
Ferruccio Lamborghini, the founder of the Italian sports car company that bears his name, ordered Hull No 278 in May 1968. Dissatisfied with the standard V8 engine, he took a pair of 350 bhp 4.0 V12 Lamborghini engines from the Lamborghini 350 GT and adapted them. This made it not only the fastest Aquarama ever built, but an Aquarama with the heart of a Lamborghini.
The Riva Junior
The celebrity’s choice of Riva
The Riva Junior was the late 1960s replacement for the basic Riva Florida. The celebrity set, such as Brigitte Bardot and Peter Sellers, chose the 5.6-metre classic Riva yacht model Junior. The Riva Junior has a value between €30,000 and €40,000.
Riva Aquariva Super
The modern classic Riva speedboat
Despite the move into fibreglass — and now superyacht-size yachts even — Riva’s current owner, the Ferretti Group, is still passionate about preserving the essence of classic Riva yachts in its new runabouts.
The Aquariva Super was launched in 2001, a year after Ferretti Group purchased Riva. This 11-metre yacht was specifically designed as a successor to the inimitable Aquarama. Although built in GRP, the Aquariva’s exterior lines and wood detail take us back to when the first classic Rivas plied the waters.
The newest Riva speedboat
Launched in June 2016, the Rivamare is the newest addition to the Riva collection. Despite her effortlessly classic styling, the 11.88-metre Rivamare boasts modern technology. This includes underwater lighting, air conditioning, an electro-hydraulic bimini shade as well as a Seakeeper NG5 stabiliser.
For more information, visit www.riva-yacht.com.