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Riva Tritone: the father of Aquarama, a timeless icon

Riva Tritone is an icon of Italian nautical history and beyond; it is the famous model to be considered the father of the Aquarama.
This elegant and powerful boat was produced in the 1950s and 1960s, quickly becoming synonymous with luxury, style and prestige.
But how was this legendary boat born?

credit Piero M.Gibellini

Its production began in 1950 with the production of the hull No. 3 called “Perlita Too.” This was the first model to be marketed under the name Tritone, inspired by the name of the guardian of the sea in Greek mythology, usually depicted with a trident, son of Poseidon (Neptune for the Romans) and Amphitrite also present on the right side of the dashboard.

credit Remi Dargegen

The model was produced for a total of 258 pieces, among which is included a Super Triton built by request in 1964, when, by then, it was no longer in the list and it was therefore necessary to build it, with No. 38, in the Super Aquarama series.
Excluded from the quoted total, however, is No. 214 of the Triton series, the 1962 “Lipicar,” which being Aquarama No. 1, as such was counted by Carlo Riva among the Aquarama.

LIPICAR – Aquarama n.1 / Tritone n.214 – credit Piero M.Gibellini

In general in the Tritone series, there are various engines and hulls renowned for their special series:

– 10 examples with Cadillac engines (more powerful, up to 600HP total), with the same dimensions as the basic model, except for a longer one called Special. Production of all these models ran from 1956 to 1960

– 23 Normal Open Tritone, that is, still derived from the basic hull, but with an open sundeck aft, produced from 1958 to 1962.

Tritone “Open” credit Piero M.Gibellini – The open Tritone’s cockpit was created by lowering the deck above the engines; it is covered with two green canvas mats, folding into two parts

– 28 longer hulls, of the Super series, produced to replace Cadillacs from 1960 to 1963, and among these longer hulls is also included No. 207, which is the only Super Open

Chris Craft 430 engine from Super Tritone VS Cadillac engine from Tritone produced in 1956, 1957, 1958

In addition, it is important to mention that the Riva Tritone was not only a model famous for its beauty, but also for the prestige it acquired through its participation in a number of competitions and for being owned by important personalities of the time. For example, Triton #62 was commissioned by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1957.

credit Piero M. Gibellini

Tritone was on the list until 1966 with the peak of success and the relative sale of 36 hulls, although the Aquarama, its replacement, had already entered production.

Although the numbers of hulls built may seem limited when compared with the production numbers of the most famous American manufacturers, it is necessary to consider the economic reality of postwar Italy to fully evaluate the success of the Triton. This was a reality of great sacrifice, in which the country had emerged from the war defeated and destroyed with primary needs that left few resources for boating.

Not only were the demands of the domestic market really small, but there was also a lack of suitable ports and storage facilities. Therefore, Carlo Riva necessarily had to turn abroad to try to sell his boats, costing far more than a luxury car, by going to challenge the big names in yacht building at home or on a neutral field. And despite the fact that the limited domestic market did not allow him to produce and sell enough hulls to cut costs and charge competitive prices in foreign markets.

It can be said that, because of its appeal, the Triton, with the smaller model similar to it, the Ariston, represents the best that the aesthetic research of Italian design in the nautical field could produce, both in comparison with the world production of the time and of all time. Unfortunately, despite its sturdy construction, many examples were destroyed, while the same fate did not befall the more recently produced Aquarama, which was saved in time.

Tritone vs Aquarama – credit Pinterest

The worldwide fame of this model was also recalled by Carlo Riva: “The Tritone also boasts another record: that of being the first Riva boat sold in the United States. The quality and line of the speedboat conquered Hollywood, where newspapers wrote big headlines: ‘”Riva Tritone draws everyone’s attention'”.

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