RIVA STARTS MASS PRODUCTION IN THE 1950s
After World War II, Riva ramped up boat production as the 1950s approached, and the company created mass-produced models that are still sought after by mariners and collectors today. The entire production cycle - milling the mahogany, hull assembly, mechanical, and finish work – were all done on-site at the Sarnico yard.
Highlights of early production at Riva’s Sarnico yard include the production of the "sea spider," a model that became the speed boat Corsaro in 1946. Other significant milestones were the start of the production of several in the Riva line in 1950 including:
- A 6.24 m inboard line, known as the Ariston, was destined to become one of the company’s timeless and classically designed Riva models, and one of the most popular. Subsequent in the unique line are the Ariston Cadillac and the Super Ariston.
- The Scoiattolo, a 4.12m outboard boat, is built in production and became the only production model with an outboard engine - more than 130 of these classic boats were constructed.
- The two-engine outboard, Tritone, was the largest Riva at the time at 7.60 meters in length overall. The boat included a below-deck cabin, extra guest seats, sunbathing area, and large fuel tanks. Subsequent models included the larger and more powerful Super Tritone followed by the twin 250hp Cadillac engines of the Tritone Cadillac.
- 1951 was the start of production of the Sebino, a 4.93m inboard boat that was integral for the focus on reducing production costs for Riva’s future boat series.
- 1969 brought about fiberglass production with the Bahia Mar 20‘ day cruiser and the Sport Fisherman 25’ cabinet.
- 1970 was the start of the next two decades of boat production of the St. Tropez and the Superamerica lines.
- 1996 marks the date for the last runabout produced by Riva.
MILESTONES FOR THE RIVA BRAND
The Riva family line continued in the boating industry when, in 1949, Serafino´s oldest son, Carlo Riva - founder Pietro Riva’s great-grandson - joined the business. Considered a creative boating entrepreneur, he solidified a cohesive and innovative outlook for the Riva brand and is credited with setting the stage for Riva’s Italian style of elegance and excellence. During his career, he was awarded the prestigious Pioneer of Boating award by Italy’s marine industry association, UCINA.
But the tide shifted as worldwide economic and political influences pressed down upon the boat manufacturing business, Carlo Riva sold the shipyard to an American company by the name of Whittaker in late 1969. He stayed on as president and general manager until 1971 and then put his brother-in-law and partner of nearly half a century, Gino Gervasoni, at the helm.
More change was on the horizon when Gervasoni sold the company to the British group Vickers, owner of the Rolls-Royce brand. And another major shift came next, the Riva family connection ended when Gervasoni left the business a year later.
A final major transformation occurred when Ferretti Group, an Italian yacht builder, took over Riva in 2000. It was the president of the company, Norberto Ferretti, a longtime friend of Carlo Riva, who sought to acquire the shipyard to ensure the long-time focus on Riva’s quality and design.