A boat story? Yes, it’s a little off topic since we’re car people but this one is different. You often hear sayings like “this is the Ferrari of ___” but it’s never really true. Sure, something can be best in class, but this truly is the Ferrari of boats. And on May 11-12 in Monaco, RM Auctions will put this rare 600HP, 1953 Ferrari hydroplane up for auction. It’s got a Tipo 375 F1 V-12 engine with twin superchargers and it’s as beautiful as it is fast. If only we have an extra million dollars laying around and somewhere to drive it.
What RM Auctions says about it:
The ‘three-point’ hydroplane, devised in America during the late 1930s by Adolph and Arno Apel of New Jersey’s Ventnor Boat Works, truly revolutionised speedboat design. Elegantly simple, the Apel design divided the ‘step’ portion of the hull into two pontoon-like surfaces, or sponsons, with each on opposite sides of the boat. The boat’s propeller acted as the ‘third point’ in the equation. The tunnel between the sponsons trapped air to generate aerodynamic lift, with only the sponsons and propeller in direct contact with the water whilst the boat was at speed.
Italy’s premier speedboat racer was Achille Castoldi, a cousin of M.C. 72 designer Mario Castoldi and a highly talented driver and engineer in his own right. Beginning in 1940 with his original ‘Arno’, a 400 kg-class boat with a Picciotti-built hull and Alfa Romeo Type 158 power, Castoldi reset the world speed record at 130.517 km/h (81.10 mph). Subsequent boats in the ‘Arno’ series followed, with most powered by Alfa Romeo and at least one Maserati-powered example, and he primarily competed in circuit-type hydroplane racing. After 1951, Castoldi ended his relationship with Alfa Romeo and changed his focus to world speed-record competition, now seeking a new engine supplier for an attempt on the 800 kg class world speed record.
Castoldi’s record preparations began in 1952, when he travelled to Maranello with his two close friends, famed racing champions Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, to order a Formula 1 specification V-12 engine from Ferrari. The blessing of Il Commendatore, Enzo Ferrari, was virtually assured since Castoldi had earlier managed to save a number of Alfetta 158 race cars during the war, keeping them hidden from the occupying German forces at his factory in Abbiategrasso, near Milan.
The Aurelio Lampredi-designed Tipo 375 V-12 engine, the same unit that powered Ferrari’s Grand Prix racing cars during 1951 and achieved Ferrari’s first ever World Championship Grand Prix win with Froilan Gonzalez in 1951 and helped Ascari to earn Ferrari the World Championship in 1952, was selected to power Castoldi’s new boat. It developed some 385 bhp with 12:1 compression and a dual-magneto ignition system, driving a twin-blade propeller via a gearbox at up to 10,000 propeller revolutions.
Castoldi made his record attempt at Lake Iseo on the morning of 15 October 1953, with Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi in attendance, clearly demonstrating Ferrari’s support of the project. Now, Castoldi finally achieved his objective, with ‘Arno XI’, by breaking the speed record in the 800 kg class with a two-way average speed in the flying kilometre of 241.708 km/h (150.19 mph). Later that day, Castoldi followed up with a new record in the 24 nautical mile event by achieving an average speed of 164.70 km/h (102.34 mph).
Blessed by complete, unbroken provenance and highly successful racing history, this one-of-a-kind and magnificent, record-breaking Ferrari-powered hydroplane provides an unparalleled opportunity to own a significant piece of both sporting and Ferrari marque history. Complete with a copy of the U.I.M. record certificate numbered 329, attesting to Achille Castoldi’s October 1953 speed record, which continues to stand today, as well as Nando Dell’Orto’s original racing logbook and additional historic archive material, ‘Arno XI’ continues to be breathtaking in its presentation, still powered by its original Ferrari 375 F1 V-12 engine. Seaworthy and still capable of breathtaking high-speed runs today, exactly as originally intended, the offering of “Arno XI” affords its next caretaker the ability to preserve, show and if brave enough, pilot at high-speeds an undisputed icon of motorsports and Ferrari history for future generations to appreciate.