The Italian Speedboat Connection
Lamborghini and Perlita Too

The fastest Rivas of their times!


Riva Aquarama Lamborghini

Lamborghini Riva Aquarama
often seen speeding across Lake Como
in the swinging ‘70’s

Perlita Two

Perlita Too, the Barn-Find Riva
raced to Catalina with Hollywood flair
in the fabulous ‘50’s

Speed Costs Money...

Engines

Aquarama 278, built in 1968 with Riva Crusader V8 motors, was sold to Ferruccio Lamborghini, who was adamant that his new Riva should be powered by 2 of his 350hp V-12 motors, the same motors powering his exotic GT’s.

After much tuning & testing by factory engineers, he was able to win 2 races in 1969 & 1970. With a top speed of 48 knots/55mph, Ferruccio enjoyed running his Riva speedboat for nearly two decades.

Even after Carlo Riva himself drove a Scripps powered Riva Tritone to a World Speed Record in 1953 at 47mph, first owner Roland Reed added two superchargers in his quest to beat the 50mph Liberty powered Miss Catalina.

Eye witnesses reported the boats ran neck and neck; although Reed always claimed he had in fact gone faster. The races are remembered as a typical weekend diversion at Catalina Island in the fabulous fiftes.

One of a Kind

Lamborghini Riva Aquarama

The Lamborghini engines ensure the one-of-a-kind provenance that makes this Riva Aqurama so unique. No other Riva speedboatad the good fortune to be owned by the creator of a legendary automotive brand and be customized in such a compelling way; combining two great marques, Riva and Lamborghini.

Lamborghini Riva Aquarama DashThe second fortuitous event was that the current owner recognised this significance and underwrote a cost-no-object restoration back to just the way Feruccucio Lamborghini had created it.

Perlita Too Details

No other Riva speedboat was built exactly this way. Many one-of-a-kind details were discovered during the extensive five year restoration.

Prototype and inspiration for all later Riva speedboats, including the iconic Aquarama, Perlita Too, the first Riva sold outside of Italy, was delivered to Los Angles in 1953 to Film & TV producer Rolland Reed; she was the first Riva to arrive in America. She was the first in the series Tritone, and though 4 were built with the Scripps V12, she is the last remaining Scripps-powered Riva.

When only the very best will do...

Lamborghini Riva Aquarama Restoration

278’s restoration journey was all the more challenging because the only option to have the proper engines today was to create period-correct replacement engines (the remaining original is in the Lamborghini museum). Motors were sourced from German and American specialists and collectors.

The engines were rebuilt by California-based Carobou Engineering,in close consultation with Fabio Lamborghini and the museum. Sando Zani’s Riva World, one of the finest wooden boat restoration shops in Europe, was responsible for the complete restoration.

(Restoration video is available).

Perlita Too Restoration

Perlita Too’s makeover was a 5-year painstaking and costly restoration, preceeded by over 20 years of research, made more challenging because Perlita Too was virtually a prototype with many unique details, coupled with years of neglect.

 

The end result was an over-the-top ‘Pebble Beach’ quality restoration, thanks to superb craftsmanship of Chris Casparis’ Sea Sonic Boats in Canada; Scripps motor guru Jim McNeilly who painstakingly restored the original motor, and the magicians at Dennison Motorsports who completed the resoration, brought it all together and made it work flawlessly.

 

(The complete restoration story at BarnFindRiva.com. and the book Perlita Too).


A well-documented history

Lamborghini Riva Aquarama

In late 1968 Ferruccio Lamborghini finally recieved his very customized speedboat, after considerable trial and tribulation getting everything to work together. The final product required the talents of his own in-house engineers and Riva’s best, Lino Morosini.

 

Ferruccio enjoyed his Riva for 20 years, then in 1989 the engines were removed and the hull sold with Riva V8 engines reinstalled. Fast forward to 2010 when the boat was rediscovered by a persistent Riva enthusiast, identified by original documents from Mr. Lamborghini.

 

The current owner committed to bring this important collectable Riva speedboat back in all her glory. Only a few mahogany boats, even Riva’s, are so lucky!

Perlita Too

In 1953, soon after PERLITA TOO arrived from Italy, first owner, film producer Roland Reed and actress Dian Fauntel (the namesake ‘PERLITA’) pose proudly aboard the new boat before heading to Catalina Island for the weekend. True to Carlo Riva’s design, many years of offshore enjoyment followed, with weekly trips to Santa Catalina Island; popular with the Hollywood crowd.

 

Fast forward to 1990, when PERLITA was discovered hidden in a barn (hence the moniker ‘The Barn Find Riva’). Fourth owner Alan Furth, for many years the worlds pre-eminent antique and classic boat collector, was going to eventually restore PERLITA, someday; but with nearly 100 boats, she was put in a barn for over 20 years awaiting her time, where she was discovered by the current owners.

 

Twenty two years later an intensive five year restoration began, wherein PERLITA TOO was lavished with a top to bottom restoration focusing on originality and authenticity, befitting her unique provenance and collectable status.


Thumbs up from Carlo Riva!

The two most important and collectable Riva Speedboats

Fabio Lamborghini and Carlo Riva

Carlo Riva gives a “thumbs up” while taking a turn at the wheel, during the sea trails at Largo Iseo of Lamborghini Riva in 2013, three years after the rediscovery.

(L) Fabio Lamborghini and Carlo Riva, ecstatic with the results!

(Video is available.)

 Carlo Riva

PERLITA TOO has yet to return to Italy to visit with Carlo Riva; instead a special book on the history and restoration of Perlita Too was presented to Carlo during his 90th birthday celebration at Riva Days 50/90/175 in 2012.

“I love my Perlita Too ”exclaimed Carlo; “she was the first Riva to go to America”

Later, after a lengthy meeting in his office, a personal letter arrived to the current owners thanking them for their tenacity, and the meticulous and all original restoration of Perlita Too; a personal ‘thumbs up’ for PERLITA TOO.


There’s no substitute for the real thing!

Perlita Too