The Florida design, first penned in 1952, was another enduring classic in the Riva range, as well as the most popular of the wooden boats to be produced on the shores of Lago d’Iseo. Between 1952 and 1969 1,137 boats were built, comprising 426 normal Floridas and 711 super Florida slightly larger and more powerful.
Named after the American state most closely associated with water-skiing, the Florida design features a cockpit and a large sun-bed astern, divided by a bridge of mahogany deck, filleted with maple. Early models were fitted with Chris Craft engines, followed by Chrysler and latterly Riva’s own 220 hp unit, built around a Crusader V8.
The legend of Chris-Craft began in 1884, when Christopher Columbus Smith began the Smith Boat House on the St Clair River in Algonac, Michigan, to manufacture small duck boats and power launches. Later, the company was extended to Chris Smith and Sons Boat Co. Many of his larger runabouts were used as taxis; transporting guests on the river front to resorts, or to various sightseeing attractions. In the twenty’s, mostly runabouts were produced, but with the introduction of his speed boats, Chris Smith’s fame took off.
The Tritone was the most important model in the Riva stable, the largest and most expensive boat, and the only to be equipped with twin engines. Its size, power and long range (thanks to large fuel tanks) made it an ideal boat for sea-cruising, and it did much to forge Riva’s reputation in the Mediterranean. Evolving from the BQ 69 designed in 1950 it was given its name in 1953. Its hull design drew on the Corsaro, with the addition of a second row of seats in the cockpit, behind which the stern area was completely decked and used as a sun bed.