The 7 Riva motorboats that made history


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Riva Motorboats – Riva Aquarama – Photo by Carlo Borlenghi

Of Riva remains in the annals the indelible imprint of the boats produced by the shipyard that built and nurtured the myth of this brand, passing between sporting epics and the enchanting atmospheres of the Dolce Vita. What better occasion than this New Year’s Eve to relive the Riva motorboats that made history, from the first model to the first fiberglass one.

Riva Motorboats

Here, then, is the story of the early Rivas, which marked the evolution of nautical design but also of fashions. And to think that it was a misfortune that started the story of Pietro Riva, who back in 1842 was called from his native Laglio, on Lake Como, to repair some boats damaged by the flooding of the Oglio River right in Sarnico. Of course, the good craftsman did not imagine that his migration would mark the beginning, many years later, of a myth.

These Riva motorboats have made history

After all, many years have yet to pass: it will be grandson Serafino Riva to have the intuition to mount an engine on the fishing boats produced by the shipyard, while his passion for motorboat racing prompted him to study ever faster hulls to which his son Carlo was able to give an outlet in mass production with the creation of the “spider of the sea,” the first Riva that, inspired by racing boats, softened their lines to become an exclusive pleasure boat.

In 1946 the Corsair was unveiled, followed in 1950 by the two models that marked the official beginning of the style that has the history of Riva shipyards: the Triton and the Ariston. The former is a 7.60 m twin-engine unit equipped with a small cabin under the forward pontoon, and the latter replicates its deck solutions on a smaller size, 6.24 m, and with a single engine. The following year was the turn of the 4.93-m Sebino, which also marked the start of mass production identified by Carlo Riva as the solution to lower production costs.

From wood to fiberglass

They are all wooden Riva motorboats that were produced in an for that time extraordinary number of units and over the years also changed their dimensions, resulting in the Super Triton and the Super Ariston. They would later be joined by the Florida and Super Florida, until the introduction in 1962 of the celebrated


, which soon became the emblem of Riva Shipyards and the icon of a long nautical season.


Saint Tropez, 1960s, Brigitte Bardot goes wild and the Riva Junior is her inseparable companion of those mythical summers.


It is the numbers that underscore the length of this extraordinary period: from 1950, when the first models were introduced, to 1996 when the last Aquarama Special was produced.

In the meantime, however, by the end of the 1960s, Carlo Riva had sold the shipyard to the U.S.-based Whittaker, and a couple of years later the management positions also passed to his brother-in-law Gino Gervasoni, who had been at his side since the 1950s. It was during this period that the production of Riva’s fiberglass motorboats began, which for a long time coexisted with wooden ones, but had the ability to create a new style without simply being a “plastic” re-proposition of historical models.

Riva’s wooden motorboats

1946 – Riva Corsair


The Riva Corsaro is commonly referred to as the first model in the new Riva series. It is the progenitor of the Triton and Ariston. At the time it was presented as the first “sea spider.”


1950 – Riva Tritone


He is the daddy of Aquarama. This Riva Triton is a 7.60 m twin-engine vessel equipped with a forward cabin under the pontoon. The sundeck, not shown in the photo, consists of a cushion over the engine room hoods.


1950 – Riva Ariston

Riva Ariston

The Riva Ariston is 6.24 meters long, which will become almost seven in the Super Ariston version. This single-engine Riva motorboat will remain in production until 1976. There will be over a thousand examples in the various versions.

1951 – Riva Super Florida


The Grand Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita purchased it, and a different, more powerful engine was chosen. The reason? Water skiing. Florida no. 7 with a Chris Craft 158 hp thus sanctioned the advent of Super Florida.

1962 – Riva Aquarama


It is the very emblem of the Riva shipyards. An evolution of the Triton, the Aquarama is 8.65 m long and has two Thermo Elettron engines of 350 hp each. It enters production reiterating many solutions of its predecessor. The large sundeck is slightly recessed, and the transom features a central passageway. In the bow is a small cabin under the pontoon. Production ended in 1996, partly due to the lack of shipwrights who knew how to work with wood. The last model bore serial number 784.


1966 – Riva Junior


Made famous by photographs with Brigitte Bardot, the 5.70-meter “little one” among Riva’s powerboats is picking up the Sebino’s legacy. 626 examples will be produced from 1966 to 1972, also used as a tender.

The fiberglass Rivas

1970 – Riva Sport Fisherman 25

Motorboats Riva - Bertram


In partnership with Bertram, which “lent” the hull of the famous Moppie 31, this model started the production of Riva fiberglass powerboats. In 7.52 m it has a small fly and a forward cabin.


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