Villa Erba

25 May 2013

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Lot 138

1956 Riva Ariston Cadillac "Slughi"

  • Hull no. 101

€180.000 - €220.000

250 bhp, 365 cu. in. Cadillac V-8 engine. Length: 6.45 m (21 ft. 2 in.)

  • One of 19 Cadillac-powered Riva Aristons
  • The only example from 1956 known to survive
  • Sold new in Italy and has been a resident here ever since
  • Beautifully and authentically restored

One of the most successful of all Riva wooden runabouts was the Ariston, named for the celebrated Milan movie palace and translating from Greek to “the best”; not humble, perhaps, but in the end, an apt choice. The Ariston combined Riva’s original runabout design with inspiration from Chris-Craft’s delicately rounded “barrelback” stern, giving it lightness and elegance.

Only 19 examples of the Ariston were outfitted with powerful Cadillac engines: six in 1956, eight in 1957, and five in 1958. This is the second example ever built, and it is most likely the oldest to known to survive. Hull number 101, known as Slughi, was outfitted with a 250-horsepower V-8 engine. As a comparison, Chris-Crafts at the time were available with a 158-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine. Delivered new to Sig. Dolci, an industrialist from Milan, Slughi is believed to be unique among the 19 hulls, as it was built during the change from Riva’s traditional two-piece windscreen to the new, and soon to be iconic, panoramic design. The hull was fitted with the two-piece unit, but it was drilled to accommodate the latter, should the client elect to make the change to the modern design.

Fated to never leave its home country, Slughi was retired from service in the mid-1960s and stored in a hangar on the Italian Riviera for decades. It was discovered in 2004 by a master marine carpenter and expert yacht restorer, M. Guastini, who embarked upon a complete restoration, which included installing new planking on the deck. The next two owners continued the restoration, locating many missing, rare original parts, with the present caretaker completing the work at the Albertoli yard on Lake Maggiore. The original planking on the sides of the hull was saved and retained, whilst the bottom was replaced and reinforced, as on many old Rivas, for safety purposes. The original Cadillac V-8 was restored with much care, and the upholstery was restored to its original pattern.

The result is a spectacular boat of class, elegance, and refined Cadillac power. Slughi is ready to be enjoyed this summer season and will be delivered with its Cantiere Riva blue cover and its wooden berth.

Alexander Weaver

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more