RM Auctions Offers Unique Cadillac Powered Riva Tritone ‘Special’ & Riva Ariston In Italy

1960 Riva Tritone 1 - Photo Credit Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1960 Riva Tritone Special – Photo Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

Thinking about upgrading to a more stylish boat this year? Is the late spring weather this year is getting you down and you can’t take it any more? We may have a solution… Stop what you are doing, call up your friendly travel agent and book a flight for you and your family to travel across the pond to beautiful Italy in late May…

And make sure you tell your travel agent that you want to stay in the area of the Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy on the weekend of May 24 – 26th. Then give the nice folks at RM Auctions a call and pre-register as a bidder for the RM Auctions’s upcoming sale during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend.

This could be your chance to purchase a rare Cadillac powered Riva speedboat and get it back to America just in time to make the prime classic boating season. It could be a story for the ages, one that you could share with your neighbors at the cottage for years… as you cruise across the lake in your elegant, timeless Riva. (Or you could simply register with RM Auctions as an on line bidder and buy it from home, but that wouldn’t be much of a story for the guys at the lake…)

Here’s the official Press Release from our friends at RM Auctions.

Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy

Photo Courtesy Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy


Villa Erba

• RM Auctions secures fabulous 1960 Riva Tritone ‘Speciale’ Cadillac for its highly anticipated sale in Cernobbio on Lake Como, Italy, on the 25th of May
• Custom-built powerboat represents the biggest, best, and most powerful Riva of the Golden Era
• Auction to also lift the hammer on the only surviving 1956 Riva Ariston Cadillac
• Exclusive evening sale held in conjunction with the celebrated Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

LONDON (5 March, 2013) – Collectors and connoisseurs are eagerly looking ahead to the opportunity to acquire some of the world’s most exotic and exclusive vehicles when RM Auctions hosts its forthcoming biennial sale during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy, on the 25th of May. Alongside examples of historic cars from such celebrated marques as Ferrari, Bugatti, and Rolls-Royce, the exclusive evening sale will also proudly present a remarkable and historically significant 1960 Riva Tritone ‘Speciale’ Cadillac Powerboat.

If ever a vehicle embodied the spirit of la dolce vita in the 1950s and 1960s, it is the series of glorious wooden powerboats built by Carlo Riva from his bespoke yard on Lake Iseo. Riva’s sumptuous, hand-crafted wooden sports machines very quickly established themselves among the world’s elite, from royalty to movie stars, including the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Peter Sellers and Sofia Loren. Yet despite the wealth and status of his clientele, Riva made a point of refusing to build custom boats or indulge bespoke requests—all except one, that is.

Riva Tritone 2 - Photo Credit Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1960 Riva Tritone Special – Photo Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

Achille Roncoroni was an industrialist from Como and an accomplished mariner, and he even represented Italy in sailing at the 1948 Olympic Games. He was also a regular customer for Riva and requested that the distinguished boat manufacturer build him a unique example of its range-topping Tritone model to be the largest and fastest Riva ever seen—and that he should never build another custom boat thereafter. Riva acquiesced, and in 1960, this genuine, one-of-a-kind boat duly appeared.

Riva Tritone 4 - Photo Credit Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1960 Riva Tritone Special – Photo Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

The Tritone ‘Speciale’ Cadillac, named Ribot III by its owner, lived up to Roncoroni’s expectations in every way. Her 8.3 metre hull remained the biggest for many years, and the 325 horsepower Cadillac Crusader Marine V-8 was the most powerful engine available at the time. New lettering was forged for the hull and dashboard, while the bespoke interior of blue, red, and white was specially crafted. The engines were finished in red rather than blue, and the inside of the hull was painted white, as opposed to the usual grey.

Riva Tritone 3 - Photo Credit Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1960 Riva Tritone Special – Photo Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

The performance demanded by its Olympian owner was amply demonstrated by the 650 horsepower Ribot III on its pre-delivery test runs. In the hands of the youngest and bravest of test drivers, the boat presented here reached a remarkable top speed of 96 km/h (60 MPH), establishing a new record for a Riva runabout powered by stock engines and propellers. Thereafter, Roncoroni made great use of his prized Ribot III on Lake Como and at his holiday home in Sardinia before it passed onto its current owner in the early-1970s.

Peter Wallman, Car Specialist at RM Auctions, says, “RM is delighted to have been entrusted with finding a new home for the recently-restored Ribot III. Riva was one of the greatest status symbols found throughout the Mediterranean in the Golden Era. We are thrilled to have had a Riva consigned to this sale on Lake Como, but to have Ribot III is truly fabulous. This example has performance and specification that no other boat manufacturer can match, and such exclusivity that even the King of Jordan could not convince Riva to build another to this specification. It also has authenticity in the original fittings and sympathetic restoration by Giacomo Lazzari to amazing condition”.

Riva Tritone 5 - Photo Credit Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1960 Riva Tritone Special – Photo Henri Thibault ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

Two owners from new and offered for the first time in more than 40 years, this wonderful powerboat represents a unique opportunity for enthusiasts, investors, and Riva aficionados to acquire a truly unique piece of boating history. It is expected to fetch between €550,000 and €750,000 when it goes under the hammer at the May auction.

In addition to Ribot III, RM’s upcoming sale during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend will also feature a powerful 1956 Riva Ariston Cadillac. Named ‘Slughi’, it is one of just six Aristons fitted with the powerful 250hp Cadillac engine in 1956. Additionally, it was the second of just 19 boats built, of which it is today the only surviving example from that year. Having spent its entire life in Italy, it is freshly restored and estimated between €180,000 – €220,000.

Riva Ariston 1 - Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Riva Ariston – Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Lot 138
1956 Riva Ariston Cadillac “Slughi”
€180.000 – €220.000

• Hull no. 101 250 bhp, 365 cu. in. Cadillac V-8 engine. Length: 6.45 m (21 ft. 2 in.)
• One of 19 Cadillac-powered Riva Aristons
• The only example from 1956 known to survive
• Sold new in Italy and has been a resident here ever since
• Beautifully and authentically restored

One of the most successful of all Riva wooden runabouts was the Ariston, named for the celebrated Milan movie palace and translating from Greek to “the best”; not humble, perhaps, but in the end, an apt choice. The Ariston combined Riva’s original runabout design with inspiration from Chris-Craft’s delicately rounded “barrelback” stern, giving it lightness and elegance.

Riva Ariston 2 - Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Riva Ariston – Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Only 19 examples of the Ariston were outfitted with powerful Cadillac engines: six in 1956, eight in 1957, and five in 1958. This is the second example ever built, and it is most likely the oldest to known to survive. Hull number 101, known as Slughi, was outfitted with a 250-horsepower V-8 engine. As a comparison, Chris-Crafts at the time were available with a 158-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine.

Riva Ariston 3 - Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Riva Ariston – Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Delivered new to Sig. Dolci, an industrialist from Milan, Slughi is believed to be unique among the 19 hulls, as it was built during the change from Riva’s traditional two-piece windscreen to the new, and soon to be iconic, panoramic design. The hull was fitted with the two-piece unit, but it was drilled to accommodate the latter, should the client elect to make the change to the modern design.

Fated to never leave its home country, Slughi was retired from service in the mid-1960s and stored in a hangar on the Italian Riviera for decades. It was discovered in 2004 by a master marine carpenter and expert yacht restorer, M. Guastini, who embarked upon a complete restoration, which included installing new planking on the deck.

The next two owners continued the restoration, locating many missing, rare original parts, with the present caretaker completing the work at the Albertoli yard on Lake Maggiore. The original planking on the sides of the hull was saved and retained, whilst the bottom was replaced and reinforced, as on many old Rivas, for safety purposes. The original Cadillac V-8 was restored with much care, and the upholstery was restored to its original pattern.

Riva Ariston 5 - Photo Courtesy RM Auctions (2)

Riva Ariston – Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

The result is a spectacular boat of class, elegance, and refined Cadillac power. Slughi is ready to be enjoyed this summer season and will be delivered with its Cantiere Riva blue cover and its wooden berth.

In addition to Ribot III, RM’s upcoming sale during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend will also feature a powerful 1956 Riva Ariston Cadillac. Named ‘Slughi’, it is one of just six Aristons fitted with the powerful 250hp Cadillac engine in 1956. Additionally, it was the second of just 19 boats built, of which it is today the only surviving example from that year. Having spent its entire life in Italy, it is freshly restored and estimated between €180,000 – €220,000.

The lineup of rare and collectable cars offered by RM Auctions during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend is once again outstanding. Here are just a few beautiful examples…

Lot 103
1955 Porsche 356 pre-A 1500 Speedster by Reutter
€160.000 – €200.000

70 bhp, 1,500 cc SOHC air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine with two Solex 40 carburettors, four-speed manual transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,100 mm (82.7 in.)

• Recently fully restored
• Porsche Certificate of Authenticity
• Copy of original Kardex warranty card
• Ideal for vintage rallying and club events

1955 Porsche Speedster  Photo Credit Simon Clay ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1955 Porsche Speedster – Photo by Simon Clay ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

Lot 120
1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Coupé Aerodinamico by Pininfarina
€1.900.000 – €2.300.000

340 hp, 3967 cc SOHC V-12 engine with three Weber 46 DCF carburettors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with double wishbones and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,420 mm (94.5 in.)

• From the collection of Mr Skip Barber
• The 12th of 36 built for the factory’s best clients
• Matching-numbers SWB model with covered headlights
• Platinum Award winner at the 2012 Cavallino Classic
• Ferrari Classiche certified
• Documented by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini

Photo Credit Tim Scott ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB – Photo Tim Scott ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

Lot 110
1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM ‘Nuvolari’ Spyder by Carrozzeria Garella
€450.000 – €550.000

60 hp, 1,089 cc OHV inline four-cylinder engine, dry sump with two valves per cylinder, two 36 mm Weber carburettors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension via lower wishbones and transverse leaf spring with telescopic dampers, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and telescopic dampers, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm (94.5 in.)

• Unique all-steel prototype for the 202 Spyder
• First raced by Cisitalia founder Piero Dusio
• 1947 Mille Miglia works team car
• Placed 4th overall at the 1947 Mille Miglia

Photo Credit Cymon Taylor ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM ‘Nuvolari’ Spyder – Photo Cymon Taylor ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

Photo Credit Cymon Taylor ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions (2)

1947 Cisitalia 202 SMM ‘Nuvolari’ Spyder – Photo Cymon Taylor ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

For further information or to discuss limited consignment opportunities to RM’s sale during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend, please call +44 (0) 20 7851 7070 or visit rmauctions.com.

You can also view the recently released RM Auctions Concorso d”Eleganza Villa d’Este Digital Catalog by Clicking Here.

Tomorrow, Saturday April 27th RM Auctions is presenting the amazing Don Davis Collection without reserve in Fort Worth, Texas. You can go to the RM Auctions website which will be streaming the event live, and catch all the action. The Don Davis Collection sale will stream live online on Saturday starting at 1:00 PM CST. It’s good entertainment and oftem amazing to see what some cars sell for when the hammer falls.

Photo Credit Darin Schnabel ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions

1941 Chrysler Newport Indianapolis 500 Pacemaker by LeBaron – Photo Darin Schnabel ©2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions


The Don Davis Collection

• Final countdown underway to RM Auctions’ Don Davis Collection sale, April 27, in Fort Worth, Texas
• Single-day auction features 64 motor cars without reserve
• Offering comprises diverse roster of European sports and GT cars and American horsepower, including superb series of Porsche and Corvette automobiles
• Complete digital catalog now available online at rmauctions.com by Clicking Here.

Thanks for tuning in to Woody Boater and enjoy your trip (or virtual trip) to Italy for the big Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend auction!


21 replies
  1. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Go for it Matt. Put some white fins on it and it will look almost like that 21ft. Continental, only faster!

  2. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Love the Tritone’s, but I don’t know – maybe Jimmuh’s is a bit more special, because it begat almost all of them.

    • Jimmuh
      Jimmuh says:

      A great 2nd choice though…..and a worthy successor to PERLITA…

      And Lago di Como definitely surpasses Lake Washington….

      (still too early for the Riva gentle-folk I guess…)

  3. Gary
    Gary says:

    Obviously there is a bunch of Italian engineering going on on that Cadillac engine in the Riva Ariston. The photo shows the top of the transmission and the engine placard but blowing it up distorts it too much to read the model number.
    Any chance of RM getting that information?
    Chrome plating the exhaust manifolds is a sweet idea on the part of the Italians!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Gary – Here is an excerpt from the RM Catalog description, you can see the entire description by clicking on the link to the catalog above.

      Outstanding features include a length of 8.30 metres, more than any other Riva of its era, and two Cadillac-Crusader Marine V-8s produce 325 brake horsepower each, some 100 brake horsepower more than the most powerful stock Riva Super Tritone.

      A marine conversion of the same engine that powered the Cadillac Eldorado, the Crusader was built by Calvin “Cal” Connell, of Cadillac-Crusader Marine in Warren, Michigan, who described it as “manufactured with the skill and precision to be expected of a product bearing the name Cadillac…

      The engines have been completely engineered for marine use and contain many features new to the marine industry. It is the lightest and most powerful standard production V-8 marine in the world. Between 1955 and 1960, it broke four international speed and endurance records”.

      In August 1961, the harshest offshore competition on the European side of the Atlantic, the Cowes Torquay race, was won by Thunderbolt, a small cabin cruiser driven by champion Tommy Sopwith, heir of the famous Sopwith aeronautical firm. Thunderbolt was powered by two “stock” Cadillac Crusader 325-brake horsepower, 390-cubic inch V-8s, exactly the same as the engines selected one year earlier by Carlo Riva and Achille Roncoroni for Ribot III. It was decided that in order to highlight the functional beauty of the red-painted Cadillac power units, the interior of the hull was finished in white rather than the usual grey, at Roncoroni’s order, so as to make the inner engine bay sparkle.

    • Jim Staib
      Jim Staib says:

      Here is a shot from the Cal-Connell catalog. The way I read it a single 4bbl was 250hp. The low profile model was 265hp. And Dual quads were 285hp.

  4. 72hornet
    72hornet says:

    Wow, wow and more wow. Love the lines on the Rivas and of course the detail on the Cal Connell Cadillacs. Stunning to say the least…..

  5. Cobourg-Kid
    Cobourg-Kid says:

    It’s incredibly odd that out of 19 Riva Ariston’s crafted by Riva in 1956 only Slughi survived.

    What the heck? That’s less than a 5% survival rate for a boat built in the 50s, .There are hundreds of Century Coronado’s still out there from that era and they were not built to last!

    Even when I was a kid Rivas , even in atrocious condition, were worth a pile-O-money. So logically one would think that most of those 19 boats would still exist, after all you don’t consign valuable art to the burn pile and, like it or not, a Riva is mobile art .

    Hey viewers, any theory’s why so many up and vanished (that don’t involve a monkey) Perhaps they are just lost in a forgotten section of Carlos Riva’s cave?

    • Jimmuh
      Jimmuh says:

      C-K ,
      A couple of things:
      -there were not only 15 Aristons in 1956, there were 34 AR, including 6 AR Cadillacs, with 13 more AR Cadillacs in 57 & 58,
      -the 331 Cad was somewhat notorious for oil pump failures; perhaps a real service problem in Europe at the time,
      -Rivas were the province of the ‘rich & famous’; when the next big thing came along, the old Riva was gone,
      -they were ‘run hard & put away wet’, often in the ocean,
      -just like 21′ Capris, E-types, and any number of more exotic cars; by the time they got to their 5th owner, maybe the cost of maintenance was too much to deal with….
      -only very recently has the wooden boat hobby in Europe brought out many ‘barn finds’; there may be another AR Cad waiting patiently in a shed near Lake Geneva, CCC long gone, maybe a CC V8 in place, corroding fasteners pushing their way to the surface, ahhhg! can’t face it again……..

  6. mike k
    mike k says:

    when cadillac went to the 390 the cal connell went up in horsepower to 325. i have the same engine as one of those twins. mine is pretty much the same except the chrome exhaust manifolds and rocker covers. it is fly wheel rear. the other engine is an earlier (331?) and flywhell forward. this is the one that jim has in the advertisement. i dont know what year they went fly wheel rear.

    i do know that i need a thermostat housing on mine, if anyone sees one let me know!!!


  7. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I’m not sure which is more beautiful, the outside or the engineering that goes into a Riva build. While delivering one to northern Ohio that was shipped in from Italy to the port of Savannah, I had to crawl around inside the boat to take it all in. All the yacht flooring was rubber suspended and removable without tools. The rear cockpit had a hand shower with a through floor catch basin and drain pump, all wiring routed flat and fastened every 4 to 6 inches, no loose wiring just running “wild” thru the air, it was just incredible, I could go on and on.

    On the way through Cincinnati, a truck hauling an empty dumpster dropped it accidentally about 75 ft in front of me on I-75 n/bound while I’m pulling the Riva. Sparks are flying all over the road while this dumpster is grinding down the interstate at 60 mph. As I always do when towing, I left enough room between me and that truck/dumpster, to whip it over into the right lane and around the skidding metal monster. Cars were dodging left and right when I looked back in the mirror. Fortunately, I was closest and got around it without having to deal with the remaining traffic.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Another entertaining story from the memory banks of Mr. Turbo, thanks for sharing it with us.

      We should start publishing a series of short classic boating stories under the title of “The Turbo Chronicles” – Like a Woody Boater version of Readers Digest…

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        By the way – how would you ever explain to your insurance agent that you were hit by a dumpster that was speeding down the freeway at 60 MPH?

        • floyd r turbo
          floyd r turbo says:

          Insurance? oh yes insurance, Carla runs from the Hagerty table when she sees me walking towards her, lol. just kidding. Ironically, it was just south of Lou Rauh’s old place Antique Boat Center, exit 8 Towne St but I was headed to the north shore.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Officer says “Was it a vintage blue dumpster with a rusty lid or a modern green dumpster with a plastic lid?”

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