Among the standard-bearers of the supercar world, Ferrari has long led the pack. The Italian brand has brought us such automotive icons as the Dino and the Testarossa, and has been shifting gears and turning heads since 1939. But, despite these decades of innovation and challenging the status quo, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that the carmaker took a more literal approach to this wave-making, boat-rocking behaviour.
Enter the 1990 Riva Ferrari 32; a supercar for the seas. This bold, bombastic limited edition was dreamt up by Enzo Ferrari and the chairman of Riva, Gino Gervasoni. Only 40 were ever made, and the brief was simple: From the side strakes to the sound system, turn the Testarossa into a boat.
Despite these two motoring monoliths exemplifying Italian style for decades, Riva and Ferrari had never collaborated before — so their inaugural effort had to be something special. The engineers and designers of both brands worked tirelessly to get the plans right, using cutting-edge computer aided design (CAD) to draw up plans for the landmark vessel.
During this design process, the teams seamlessly fused Ferrari’s distinctive style cues with Riva’s dynamic silhouette. They ensured a Testarrosa-style air intake sat strikingly along Riva’s classic hull line. They added a large, car-like carbon fibre spoiler to create a sweeping line that would slickly complement the bow. They even painted the whole thing in Ferrari’s signature shade of red; ‘Rossa Corsa’.
Mechanically, the boat was also kitted out in style — to ensure it was fit to wear the hallowed Ferrari name. Each of the 40 vessels produced were equipped with twin 390-horsepower BPM ‘Vulcano 400’ V8 engines — with the ability to power the boat up to a top speed of 54 knots (around 62 mph).
Elsewhere on the technical side, there were Rolla propellers, Borg Watner transmissions and Riva/VDO instrumentation thrown into the mix. You’d find a Danforth anchor on the forepeak, and a large lazarette area for extra storage aft of the engine compartment.
But it wasn’t all about performance. True to Ferrari and Riva’s luxurious reputations, there were also some elegant, decadent touches added for the sake of style. Below deck, you’d find a surprisingly spacious double bed for overnight stays; upholstered in plush, velveteen fabric. Above deck; wrap-around seats with fold-out moulded fibreglass drinks trays — and a bench seat by the driving station to comfortably sit three people.
They also installed a rather serious sound system — perfect for blasting tunes as you’d bounce over the waves. Developed by car stereo manufacturer Clarion, this entertainment system was developed with both AM and FM radios, but also a thoroughly-modern CD player — all piped through a set of sufficiently loud Polyplaner 80W speakers.
The boat featured here was the 28th of the 40 vessels produced during this landmark collaboration, and it will be going up for sale later this month at RM Sotheby’s ‘The Rey Collection’ auction in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since 2015, it’s been completely refurbished — with an engine-out service and over $100,000 of investment going towards retuning and revamping the interiors.
So, if you’re looking to invest in a piece of high-octane Italian history — and have pockets deeper than the ocean depths — we can think of few better boats to splash out on.
1990 Riva Ferrari 32
Want more incredible Italian machines? Here’s a short history of Gianni Agnelli’s car and yacht collection…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.