October 12th, 2012 by James Ferris

Hugging the book and closing his eyes “I Love My Perlita Too; she was the first boat I sent to America”. Thus exclaimed Carlo Riva at Riva Days when we presented him with our book about PERLITA TOO…

A few days later

Mr. Riva invited us to his office, where we discussed the early days when he began to run the yard in his way; how he tested and rejected suppliers until he was satisfied, and where he then signed our book.

He had read the book thoroughly and was happy to spend an hour questioning us and elaborating on the details in our book, and telling us about the early days and his deep involvement in the design and building of the boats.

Our unique gauges were a prototype from the Swiss instrument & watch maker Jaeger.

PERLITA TOO is the only Riva ever equipped with these gauges. Likely they were too expensive, and Mr. Riva could use ‘off the shelf’ SW gauges from the US for considerably less cost.

A week later, we received a personal letter from Mr. Riva.

Not long after we returned from Italy we headed back to Lake Washington with PERLITA for another sea trail and some photos. In Italy we had spent two weeks cruising in several later model Rivas, including HERMES, the very Last Tritone built by Riva. We have now had the unique experience of driving both the First, and the Last Tritones!

Our expedition to Lake Washington was exactly on the day of the 5 year anniversary of Perlitas departure to Sea Sonic Boats  to begin the long and expensive restoration journey which is now (sigh of relief) complete. And completed at a level of perfection beyond our dreams, and validated by the Ingenere himself!


In our opinion the Scripps V12 motor in PERLITA creates a boating experience totally different from other Rivas. I say this based on our own recent experiences, in Italy and in Washington.  PERLITA TOO is the only Riva remaining with the Scripps V12 of the 4 originally constructed in 1952 & 53.

So, how to describe it? First is the sound. The huge displacement (894 cu.in.), 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, I can have a ‘normal’ conversation with companions in the front seat easily over the sound of the motor.

The hull of PERLITA TOO sports a lower deckline overall (which was modified in later boats for wider user appeal); and along with the very low 2-piece windshield, seems more ‘aerodynamic’, giving more of a ‘sports car’ feel (if you are inclined to make an automotive comparison). Certainly, some of this ride quality stems from Chris Casparis’ meticulous reconstruction.  CASUDI says it feels “more like a speedboat”  than any other Riva she has experienced; Perlita Too has a much racier and sportier ride!


Our visit in August 2012 to Riva Days in Italy confirmed that you can build a great online community (as we have done with our “BARN FIND RIVA” website and blog), but the power of those relationships created online is greatly magnified by meeting the members of our community “in real life”.

A special thanks to our fabulous Norwegian, German, Dutch and Italian communities and of course those from the US whom we met “in real life” for the very first time, all who made our time at Riva Days so valuable.

You have met PERLITA online, now please come and meet her “In Real Life”. When she is not out “speeding” across the water she can be found at Dennison Motorsports, whose team of experts completed all the mechanical systems as though she were a Pebble Beach show car. PERLITA always enjoys showing off to the members of her community or ‘fan club’; after all, she started life as a Hollywood Star!

Our long Story is at BarnFindRiva and in our PERLITA TOO Book. Please check out Woody Boater for their most recent article about PERLITA TOO ==>> here.

As always, please comment below, or email us. BETTER YET COME VISIT! 

James & CASUDI, the collaborators in the Barn Find Riva story.

IMAGES by CASUDI (Lumix, Coolpix, iPhone & iPad)



13 Responses to “I LOVE MY PERLITA TOO!”

  1. Terry Hurley Says:

    Congratulations! I cannot begin to imagine the deep sense of personal satisfaction that this accomplishment must have given you.

    Two of my favorite things combined to achieve perfection: Scripps Marine Engines
    and Riva Boats! A heart felt Thank You!

  2. Brian Driggs Says:

    What a wonderful “end” to this story.

    From the very beginning, this story has touched people. Not merely as a pleasant distraction from the inbox or the automaton reading Power Point slides at the front of a dimly-lit room, but really grabbed hold of us and drawn us in.

    There is a quality beyond quality, wherein the warmth of the meticulously selected wood and the heat of the hulking Scripps V12 is stoked by the fire clearly evident in the hearts of the owners who saved this precious machine from a dusty barn somewhere no longer relevant. I think I speak for all of us who have followed along when I say the story of Perlita Too is a story of redemption and the triumph of the human spirit. In sharing this story with us, you have demonstrated the potential in all of us – if we just choose to believe in that potential and never, ever, ever, give up.

    So thank you many, many times over, Casudi and James (and everyone else involved) for allowing us the privilege of joining you on this journey, however vicariously. You deserve all the praise and accolades surely stacking up at your door for this one.

    And yes, some day I will find a way to get up there to meet all three of you face-to-face.

  3. 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?

  4. Chris Casparis 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

  5. clay thompson Says:

    it was nice to have that boatride in italy with you both, even though it was raining! Perlita is amazing!!! To personally take on this project shows much about who you are, a life achievement at the highest level. the attention to detail shows the comittment of all involved. our gift to the future is the preservation of our past.

  6. James Says:

    Terry – You’re right about satisfaction; I’m glad we did it, and I know she will live on into the future for many others to enjoy. You’re also right about “perfection” of Rivas and Scripps motors (I only wish McNeilly had agreed to putting the superchargers back on…..then you would have perfection!)

    Brian – You’ve been a valuable part of our journey right from the beginning of our story. More than a few times we reflected on your comments to regain our perspective! Perlita is waiting to see you….

    William – The “original” ‘PERLITA’ is the 1929 Elco cruiser also owned by Roland Reed, seen in one of the early blog posts. ‘PERLITA TOO’ was a natural for the Riva speedster (and also Reeds’ name for his companion Dian Fauntelle).

    Clay – You are spot on about ‘a gift to the future’. Aside from personal feelings about the project, the best reason for doing it is knowing she will live on for many others to enjoy. Maybe someone reading this blog post today will see her on her 100th birthday!

    And major thanks from both of us to everyone who followed our story and commented!

  7. 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!

  8. Dan Diehl Says:

    What a wonderful story! Finding a boat with such a historical significance and then restoring it to such a level of magnificence is truly fantastic. This one-of-a-kind boat restored to its original beauty becomes the example we all will strive to meet with our own projects. Thank you, James, for sponsoring such a project and having the perseverance to stay on task to see it through. You and your team are an inspiration to us all.

  9. Christopher Korody Says:

    Bravo dear friends. In the great tradition of all wonderful things italiano, let me be the first to remind you that at every great finale you will hear the joyful crowd yelling bravo, bravissimo, encore… So what’s it going to be?

  10. Scripps V-12 in a Riva | The Vintage Hydroplanes Bulletin Says:

    […] the journey of Perlita Too. But please stay tuned as we may have an interesting piece of news. http://www.esse-group.com/LTCB/barn-find-riva/i-love-my-perlita-too/ A special Thank you to all the wonderful friends we made at Riva days ~ please lets keep the […]

  11. James Says:

    Dan – The real question is, if I had known how long the journey was going to be, would I still have gone ahead? For Alan Furth Perlita was not a priority (he had 80+ boats!) and so Perlita was relegated to a barn. If he knew how important she was (I’m sure he did not), might this have changed his focus? And I might still have been the one to do the project……

    Whatever; I’m really glad we did it, over the top restoration that it is….it’s been a great learning experience, although I probably would not do something of this magnitude again. And even if I gave in, CASUDI swears she/we would not! Under any circumstances! Never! Again! Period!

    (fortunately, I already had her Super Florida partly done; only a year to finish now…..;-)

    Thanks for your kind words for us, and now get back out to the garage and work on that Ariston!

  12. CASUDI Says:

    Chris ~ what is appropriate is PERLISSIMO; the frizzante is 1953 Brut Champagne with PERLITA Caviar of course, and no ENCORE! Always great to see you here.

  13. CoCreatr Says:

    Congratulations from afar on what could be termed a rebirth or a second coming of the christening. A goal envisioned, committed and achieved. Ah, shared, as well, and made many people happy in the process. Enjoy, and to Perlita Too, “wishing always a palm’s width of water under the keel” as they literally say in Germany.

    My first boating experience was with my uncle’s eel fisher, driven by a one-cylinder diesel he cranked by hand. My second experience was with another uncle who had a small speeder with a 24hp Wankel engine.