Twenty Two Years Of Research – Practice Makes Perfect For The Riva Tritone “Perlita Too”


On September 27th, 2012 our friends James & Casudi successfully completed the final sea trials of PERLITA TOO on Lake Washington near Seattle – Exactly 5 years to the day from when their rare 1953 Riva Tritone was shipped to Chris Casparis at Sea Sonic Boats in Canada to begin her long and expensive restoration journey, which is now complete.

But this restoration journey first began when PERLITA TOO was found late in 1989 in the Sacramento Delta in northern California, where she had been stored in the darkness of a makeshift container since the mid 1970′s. The discovery was made while James was cataloging the inventory of a well-known California classic boat collector, Alan Furth. Struck by the classic lines of a Riva, James arranged to purchase the boat, even before confirming the condition or completeness. Only later, after beginning his research, did he uncover the remarkable story of PERLITA TOO, the first Riva speedboat to come to the USA!

“PERLITA TOO” on her first voyage headed for Catalina, California in 1953.

PERLITA TOO arrived in Hollywood in 1953, ordered from the factory in Italy by Film Producer Roland Reed (standing in the boat in the above image), after he had been impressed by a Riva on a boat show stand in Milan, Italy.

She was the first Riva ever to arrive in the US and is the only remaining Riva of 4 built in 1952 & 1953 with the record breaking Scripps V12 engine. Lastly she is the oldest Riva Tritone in existence and the first of 258 Tritones built by the Riva factory in Italy. The LAST Tritone was Nº 258, HERMES, delivered in 1967. (More on that boat in a future story here on Woody Boater)

Hermes – No. 258 The Last Riva Tritone Built, delivered in 1967

James & Casudi note – “In our opinion the Scripps V12 motor in PERLITA TOO creates a boating experience totally different from other Rivas. I say this based on our own recent experiences, in Italy and in Washington.

So, how to describe it? First is the sound. The huge displacement (894, coupled with the long stroke, creates a deep smooth rumble completely different than a modern OHV V8. Next, the power at low RPM’s is smooth and effortless, bringing the boat on plane so quickly you’re surprised!

Interestingly, you can have a ‘normal’ conversation with companions in the front seat easily over the sound of the motor…”

In 2009 James & Casudi created a blog to chronicle the remarkable restoration of PERLITA TOO and share their journey with the world, and Woody Boater has had the priviledge of following the project. The attention to detail and their unwavering persuit for perfection throughout the rerstoration is simply amazing – and for us, even exhausting to follow on a few occasions.

Now, with 14 chapters of the PERLITA TOO blog documented, the 15th and possibly the final chapter of the restoration has now been written and released to the public this weekend. The 15th chapter titled “I LOVE MY PERLITA TOO!” culminates with James & Casudi presenting legendary designer Carlo Riva with a copy of thier book during the recent Riva Days 170-90-50 celebration in Sarnico, Italy – and Mr. Riva’s emotional response. A perfect ending to their 22 year journey with PERLITA TOO.

Here are a few images from that final chapter highlighting Perlita’s remarkable restoration, the images speak for themselves…

To see the entire story of PERLITA TOO (the first 14 Chapters) and the newly released Chapter 15 “I LOVE MY PERLITA TOO” you can Click Here. While your at the PERLITA TOO home page, also check out the link on the right side of the page titled PERLITA TOO HISTORY INFOGRAPHIC which outlines the life and times of the rare Riva Tritone and also the link to the book at the top of the page.

Thanks to James & Casudi for sharing your amazing journey with us here at Woody Boater – We are so proud of what you have accomplished with PERLITA TOO.


18 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    I’l read todays story latter but please look at this impressive book. It has important information for all of us boaters. Before you just blow it off it is an absolute necessity that you read the reviews. Again I can’t stress it enough the importance of this tome.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled blog. Thank you for your patience.

  2. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    what a fantastic labor of love! With Jim McNeilly doing the Scripps for them, I know the engine is perfect.

  3. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Good things do come to those who wait! An absolutely stunning boat. A great piece of history as well.

  4. william davis
    william davis says:

    This is indeed a fascinating story and the “production values” for the history are the best. But I continue to look for the origin and meaning of the name
    Perlita TOO. Did I miss it in the narrative?

    • James
      James says:

      @william davis –
      Look at the left side of the 1953 pic; PERLITA TOO is floating alongside a large cruiser; named ‘PERLITA’, a 1929 Elco 72′ cruiser. Our info suggests Reed’s companion Dian Fauntelle was also referred to as ‘Perlita’. Oh, one more thing: we’ve located ‘PERLITA’ too; she’s available, in SFO, and no, we’re not going there…..

  5. CJP
    CJP says:

    Wow, once again the Riva lines prove to be sexy and functional! I’m sure that Scripps produces some incredibly torque and exhilarating power! If that’s not enough, talk about a pedigree, the first Riva ever to bless the shores of the United States; its’ all going on with this runabout.

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Prettiest Riva I’ve seen, in person or photos!

    There’s something about the purity of an original design by a master — whether in cars (Pininfarina), clothing (Chanel), architecture (Wright), furniture (Eames), etc. — that is never surpassed in revised or successive editions.

    The purity of this one, both interior and exterior, is achingly beautiful. And when I read it has the slow turning muscle of a Scripps V-12 to boot! Oh man!

    I hope this boat has a worthy boathouse for it, where the owners can quietly sit down from time to time, sip something equally rare and fabulous, and just gaze over it.

  7. Chris Casparis/Sea Sonic Boats
    Chris Casparis/Sea Sonic Boats says:

    It was a rare privilege to work on Perlita Too with people who understand what it takes to restore a boat without compromising quality in anyway. It was also a great experience to have Mr. Riva’s support right from my visit with him over 5 years ago right up to the very end and he was always available and very willing to help me with any details.
    Thank you everyone for your contribution of exellence to this restoration project.
    Chris Casparis
    Sea Sonic Boats

    CASUDI says:

    Chris ~ this is so fabulous that you commented here.

    Now we can look back over the whole project and agree that all the trials and tribulations were worth it. As the manager of the Perlita Too restoration, with certain goals in mind (scheduling and budgets??), it was not always easy, however as you always said the one thing we would not compromise on (right to the end) was the quality of our project. Your obsession with perfection was an area where we never had any disagreement! When we were in Italy, Mr. Riva looked at everything we documented in our book related to your craftsmanship and praised you again and again!

    As you recall we spent years making the decision on who could do the work, and as it turned out we selected the very best man for the job, someone who helped us make our dream come true. Thanks again for that!

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      After seeing this boat underway in Chris’s shop, knowing Chris and speaking with you and James, I can only say I am not surprised at the incredible results of this most passionate project. Management of the minutiae involved in such an exacting persuit would have driven me round the bend in frustration, but you all obviosuly coped – with stunning results.

      I can’t wait to see Perlita on the water – soon preferably! Great marque class at the Tahoe Concouors next year – Alan Furth’s boats. I know where I am laying my money if you decide to bring her!

  9. Tyson K.
    Tyson K. says:

    I had heard about this boat from Chris, and others, and seeing it now, I am not suprised in the slightest. Chris is obsessed with every exact detail, and quality. All you have to do is look at his Sea Sonics.

    @Chris, I had no idea how awsome that boat is! Nice job mate!!

    @Casudi What a beautiful boat! Amazing lines and with a stylish interior second to nothing I have seen! Maybe in another Riva. I can’t wait to see it in person!!!

  10. HERMES
    HERMES says:

    Hello Perlita Too Crew. Congrationlation from far Berlin to Perlita and your faboulous story. As a sister-ship from the end of the series with Tritone 258 (Hermes) I am proud gaigning such perfect copagnon. Hope to excercise the two Tritones some times together.

  11. Brayan
    Brayan says:

    Dear Mo,Some of the pictures used in the blog atlcire show a somewhat smaller panel. You can see the actual size panel on our website in the SE 10.6 Ultimate Package. The panel we are using 35 x 56 and it cover pretty the whole top of the canopy.Regards Cecil

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