“Perlita Too” Is Back In The Water After 33 Years! – Sleepless In Seattle For A Few More Weeks

, ,

“Perlita Too” is a BARN FIND RIVA, she was the first Riva ever to arrive in the US; sold to Hollywood producer Roland Reed (standing in the boat ~ above image), ready for her first voyage headed for Catalina, California in 1953. “Perlita Too” is the only remaining Riva of 4 built with the record breaking Scripps V12 engine. Lastly she is the oldest Riva Tritone in existence and the first of 267 Tritones built, and as Mr. Riva says, the very first Riva sold outside Italy.

Perlita arrived in Hollywood in 1953, ordered from the factory in Italy by Film Producer Roland Reed, after he had been impressed by a Riva on a boat show stand in Milan, Italy. Mr. Riva still has some of the original correspondence from Roland Reed, which he showed us when we visited him in Italy some years ago. This is “Perlita Too” arriving in Los Angeles, California in a special wooden crate; Roland Reed in the foreground grinning like a Cheshire cat! – James & Caroline

Last week our friends James & Caroline reached a major milestone in their Riva Tritone’s meticulous four-year restoration project. “Perlita Too” was successfully re-launched into Seattle’s Lake Union, back in the water after 33 long years.

Together, the team of Mike Velsher (from Dennison International), Jim McNeilly (from McNeilly’s Marine Services) and with James at the controls performed the first water test aboard the stunning Riva on Lake Union.

Since August 2009, we have had the pleasure of following this remarkable restoration project on the PERLITA TOO – A BARN FIND RIVA blog. Over those two years we have shared every step of the project with them, including sourcing the 30 foot sections of wood via Switzerland and the spectacular wood work and craftmanship by restorer Chris Casparis at Sea Sonic Boats in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

To the intricate restoration of the huge 900 cubic inch Scripps V-12 powerplant by engine extraordinaire Jim McNeilly in Seattle, WA. To the detailed restoration of the authentic Alfa Romeo steering wheel with the help of historian and author Piero Gibellini, completed by Butch Dennison of Dennison International in nearby Puyallup, Washington – who also completed the balance of the mechanical work on the project.

And now that the water test is complete, back to Dennison International to finish the interior work and the mountain of details necessary to complete the restoration to the level of perfection that only James and Caroline will consider acceptable. Until every last detail has been completed, our friends James & Caroline will remain “Sleepless in Seattle”…

Today they have updated their blog PERLITA TOO – A BARN FIND RIVA with the most recent images of the re-launch, and if you haven’t yet had the opportuity to see the blog, which chronicles the entire restoration project, check it out by clicking here – It’s simply amazing. You can also find the link to the site listed on the right side of the Woody Boater home page.

Swedish actress Anita Ekberg in her Riva Tritone #142

Congratulations James & Caroline, your almost there – WooHooo!


15 replies
  1. matt
    matt says:

    This has and is an amazing story.. These folks have done justice to this peice of art.. Dang!

  2. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    If anyone had any doubts that Jim is the finest engine restorer in the country, all he needs to do is look at this engine. I have seen it in his shop from time to time as he was restoring it. It is a massive piece of art.

  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Dang (no cursing right Matt?), if I had known this was going on I would have stopped by on my way to Portland last week to get the Skiff. I have seen this boat when it was in Chris’s shop up here, and I saw the engine in Jim’s shop.
    I am no boat judge, but having observed this project along the way and met and chatted with James several times, I think it is a near automatic best of show at any show anywhere. If they get it done in time for Tahoe, it is a virtual lock to win. The investment of time and effort in the research on this near prototype, one-of-a-kind Riva is likely unsurpassed, and only the best were selected to work on the various components of the restoration. I cannot wait to see her in 6 weeks time.

  4. James
    James says:

    What? No one commented on Miss Perlita’s “Riva-WoodyBoater-lifestyle wave”…… Always thought she was really in the spirit…..with a nice Hollywood touch. Must have learned from all the Chris Craft girls…..

  5. Texx
    Texx says:

    James – Funny you mentioned that… Last night when we were preparing the story, I noticed Miss Perlita’s energetic wave as they were preparing to cast off for Catalina.

    Then I thought about how she would look if Matt applied one of those stylish Zebra bathing suits via Photoshop. But of course that was more of an Ariston thing than a Tritone thing and I didn’t want it to appear incorrect for the period…

    It would be terrible to receive a 2 point deduction for an incorrect bathing suit! HA

    • James
      James says:

      (ever the pedant….)
      Au contraire’ Texx, the zebra was very much a Tritone thing; one the most well-known Riva images is of Anita Ekberg in 1959 in her new Tritone with the zebra seats; also a Tritone was exhibited at the 1959 Miami Boat Show with the zebra upholstery. Suspect the Tritone & Ariston both were available that way in the era. (did I recoup my points?)

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        Thanks James – One of the greatest things about Woody Boater and the Woody Boater community is that together we learn more about the history and unique details of the various marques.

        I guess it’s time for me to step up and buy the series of Carlo Riva – The Legend books from Herb at Sierra Boat Co when I’m in Tahoe this year.

        For reference, above is a copy of the famous Anita Ekberg – Riva Tritone photo so every one knows what the heck we are talking about. Great stuff!

    CASUDI says:

    Miss Perlita….Mrs.Perlita….Hollywood!

    This is how myths and legends get made!

    In reality, the lady with the ‘Woody Boater wave’ is Dian Fauntelle, film & TV actress and very long time girl friend of boat owner Roland Reed. She appeared in many of his films and TV productions during her career, and eventually became his business partner as well. Roland Reed went to woody boater heaven in 1973; Ms Fauntelle stayed around until 2009.

    The first “Perlita” was in fact an 82′ Elco, also owned by Reed, and our Riva Tritone was the tender to the big boat, thus “Perlita Too”.

    More trivia; James not long ago discovered the Elco for sale (and no we never considered it for restoration;-)!!!

    Thank you Texx for a really great post, we appreciate your and the Woody Boater community’s interest in our soon to be complete endeavour.

    Caroline AKA CASUDI

  7. Ric
    Ric says:

    I came across this article a few years back and didn’t see this comments section..I am Roland Reed’s grandson and I just love everything about this story..Great pictures and history..Perlita looks incredible..Thanks to all involved in this remarkable piece of history !

  8. Linda Reed Brown-Smith
    Linda Reed Brown-Smith says:

    Hello James and Caroline,

    Seeing the care you took to see that “Perlita Too” was restored to her beginning makes me happy.

    I would love to know where she is now so I could say “hello” to her. I am Linda Reed, Roland Reed’s daughter. I was 12 years old when my Dad got her and felt very important getting all the stares she got as we cruised through the Newport Beach Bay. She, along with “Perlita” was moored in the bay just out from the historic Pavillion there.

    Just for the record, that is not my Dad in the photo. It is his captain, Joe Queen.

    Many thanks again and I hope to hear from you.

    Best Regards,


    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for chiming in Linda. I have passed this comment on to the current owners, and am sure they will reply to you directly.

    • James
      James says:

      Would love to speak with you! You can find me (James) at Perlitas website: barnfindriva dot com
      There is an email link at the bottom of the post “I Love my Perlita Too” (2nd post on the list on the home page).
      (and a big THANK YOU to Reg!)
      PS This message is for Ric too!

Comments are closed.