On February 18, 1898, Enzo Ferrari, the man who would be the founder of the renowned car manufacturing company, Ferrari, was born. He was fascinated with cars from an early age, and his dream was to work for FIAT. Unfortunately, once he failed to fulfill his ambitions, Enzo became a tester, then a race driver before finally starting his own car manufacturing company, Auto-Avio Costruzioni, in 1939. His vehicles were synonymous with racing, and it took the craftiness of one man, Achille Castoldi, to have Enzo make the first Ferrari boat in 1952. It is also the only time Ferrari helped build a speedboat that set a world record. Let's take you back to how Enzo Ferrari broke from the norm of making cars and got involved in boats.
The Man Called Achille Castoldi
As ROSSOautomobili informs us, Achille Castoldi was a famous Italian speedboat racer who began his racing career in 1940. Despite being a successful businessman, Achille's first love was sports, and at 21, while in University, he was the world champion of sculling. His interest in motorboating grew, and he had a long-standing relationship with Alfa Romeo. Thus, the first speedboat he raced in, named Arno, had an Alfa Romeo Type 158 engine. It was a 400kg-class boat that broke the record with a speed of 130.517kph. However, Achille was a man who loved challenging himself; thus, he wanted to break a record for the 450kg class. Therefore, he used the Arno II, a speedboat with an average speed of 94 miles, and set the world record for the under 450kg class. His love for motorboating came with a few challenges. For instance, while testing the Sant' Ambrogio in readiness for the 1948 Gold Cup, the shaft broke loose causing the boat to overturn. Luckily, Achille escaped unhurt and after being given a clean bill of health later, he still wanted to race. Unfortunately, the Sant' Ambrogio II he was supposed to race in was out of balance resulting in Achille dropping out of the race. In 1950, he was ready to break the record of 204.41kph that the late Sir Malcolm Campbell had set in 1937.
Building a Ferrari Boat
The determination to set a world record for the 800kg class saw Achille become crafty in his approach. After severing ties with Alfa Romeo and Maserati, Achille had to look for another engine supplier. However, first, he commissioned Cantiere Timossi's boatyard to build him a hull for the boat. He then befriended two racers, Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari, who, according to PR Newswire, helped him search for an engine. The three went to Maranello and ordered a Formula 1 V12 engine from Ferrari. How Enzo Ferrari became involved in the development of the boat remains a mystery. Some say that Achille was crafty enough to paint the hull red, which persuaded Enzo to be involved in the project since red is Ferrari's trademark color. Others say that Achille had saved Enzo's race cars during the Second World War; hence helping the man was only befitting. Therefore, although Achille had bought the V12 engine, Enzo knew Achille needed more horsepower to break the world record.
Enzo sent his Scuderia team, led by chief Engineer Stefano Meazza, to help. It was a difficult task, and eventually, Stefano modified the V12 engine. He doubled the compression ratio to enable the engine to run on methanol. With other few modifications such as twin spark plugs and giant superchargers, the original engine's 385hp increased to 550-600hp. The boat also came to be known as the Arno X1. It managed to set the record Achille had for so long been seeking to achieve. In January 1953, he began the race to set the world record for the 800kg class with a top speed of 199kph, but Mario Verga attained 202.26kph. Achille did not give up despite Mario going ahead to break his own record two weeks later with a speed of 226.5kph. Finally, on October 15, 1953, the Arno X1 reached the top speed of 241.7kph, a record it holds to date.
The End of an Era
In 1954, after attaining his goal, Achille sold the Arno X1 to Nando Dell'Orto, who was also keen on racing. According to the Robb Report, Nando, therefore, modified the body by adding some weight, most notably a large fin for stability. He then tried competing in the 900 kg class but never got to be a champion; the closest he came to a win was second place in the 1965 World Championship. Since Arno XI retired from racing, it has had only two other owners; Milton Verret is the current one. Milton, a collector of rare Ferraris, was motivated to buy the boat because of its uniqueness; it is the only one that has Enzo's involvement and an engine worth competing in Formula 1 World Championships. Arno XI is a sight to behold for Ferrari enthusiasts; hence Milton has been loaning it to Ferrari museums in Italy since 2012. In June 2019, the engine's restoration was left in the capable hands of Ferrari Classiche; the restorations were meant to have the boat in perfect condition in time for the boat's 70th anniversary.
However, although Milton insisted that having the unique and rare boat was priceless, in August 2019, a price tag was attached to the boat when it went up for sale. It was certified by Ferrari Classiche and had its history, including a copy of the certification of Achille's world breaking record, and handwritten notes from Ferrari engineers, intact. The price was undisclosed, but given that in 2013 it was speculated to fetch at least £1.26 million, by 2019, the cost must have been astronomical. It is essential to point out that while Arno XI remains the only real Ferrari boat, Enzo still commissioned another in 1990- the Riva Ferrari 32. The "32" represented the boat's length of 32 feet. It did not have a Ferrari engine, but the aim was to have a Ferrari-like boat for the sea. The two companies, Riva and Ferrari, built only 40 such boats.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker