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Classic Boat: Riva Aquarama

Riva Aquarama in 1962Brand Foundation: Riva Aquarama

Striking upon just the right combination of refined shape, mahogany, and star power, Riva created the Aquarama and redefined the Riviera runabout as a resilient classic.

The notoriously opaque German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that beauty was not an observation, but rather an experience. An experience that allowed humans to understand the natural world as an ordered and purposeful place. For Kant—one of the sharpest philosophical minds of the last millennium, mind you—beauty was wordless, ineffable, and nearly indescribable. So bear with me while I try to do justice to the Riva Aquarama in 400 words or less.

The Aquarama is not just a boat. To many nautical aficionados, she is the boat. DiMaggio and Connery and Bardot rolled into a gleaming shard of mahogany. Think martinis and caviar, Antonioni and Ferrari red.

The Aquarama was introduced in 1962 and was based on an earlier Riva model named the Tritone, which had been inspired by American Chris-Crafts. The original line had 281 hulls, and ran until 1972. Iterations after the original included the Lungo, the Super Aquarama, and the Special, which ended production in 1996. Aside from her looks, the Aquarama was notable in the early ’60s for having an open sunbathing area aft, separate front seats, and a non-slip gangway on the centerline aft. She also had twin-engine propulsion ranging from 330 to 700 horsepower. Not that that mattered. You could fill the engine cavity with bouncy balls and install the Aquarama in your front yard as art and it would still be worth the investment. You would miss out on top-end speeds near 50 knots though, so owning her might be a touch less fun.

The Aquarama was an ideal runabout at about 26 feet, and today enjoys iconic status particularly as a tender. All told there were 768 Aquaramas built, however it’s less clear how many of those are still around. If you’re in the market for one, well, good for you, you’re doing something right in life. Expect to pay somewhere around a few hundred thousand dollars and up, way up, depending on vintage and condition. But don’t fret, there’s a good reason diamonds are expensive.

Read our boat test of the Riva 63 Virtus here ➤

Riva Aquarama

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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