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.

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.

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.

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, 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”.

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.

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.