The Riva family's boat-building history can be traced to 1842 and Pietro Riva. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that Carlo Riva influenced the direction of the family boat yard and Riva began producing what would be considered the finest constructed and appointed runabouts in the world. His vision was heavily influenced by Chris-Craft designs; in fact, he used some Chris-Craft components, notably engines. Carlo traveled to the U.S. to meet the Chris-Craft personnel, turning a desperate situation into a positive one – both for international business relations and the success of Riva.
Although Carlo designed many different types and styles of vessels prior to assuming control of the Riva Boat Yard, for the purpose of this guide we’ll focus on nine models of mahogany-constructed runabouts. These were produced from 1946 until 1996, with a total production of just under 5,000.
Carlo Riva’s designs and construction were very unique. He alone designed every aspect of his boats, down to carving the casting patterns for the fittings. His demand for perfection could only be achieved by using the most talented craftsmen to assemble each boat. He also went to great lengths to assure Riva had access to the finest components for the construction of his boats. Potential suppliers went through Carlo’s stringent personal approval process before their material was accepted for use. When Carlo could not find a chrome plater to meet his specifications for durability, he built his own plating factory to ensure the production and quality he insisted on. Though Riva boats cost 20 to 30 percent more than any competing runabouts of the time, Carlo insisted there were clients willing to pay the premium for the ultimate quality, not just luxury.
This guide will address the most popular models and address lesser production runs as data becomes available. More specific technical information may be accessed on the Riva Club USA website at as well as the Chris-Craft Club website at .