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)