speedboat ferrari boat

Ferrari Arno XI boat: A water horse


Automobile mechanics is a tributary of aeronautics. This is nothing new. At this moment, many of you will be thinking about the immense prewar engines installed in hunting record cars. However, and beyond these impressive and isolated vehicles, the truth is that common elements such as turbo or direct injection derive from the heavens. Something that continues to surprise many fans, as well as discovering a Ferrari motorboat.

And yes, Ferrari has not only gone off its typical road or circuit path with the 308 GTB for Group 4 and B. There is also an isolated example that pointed to the water to be a racing boat. Its about 1952 Ferrari Arno XI. A fairly unknown project that, far from being the simple idea of ​​a private individual, had the decided support of the Scuderia itself, seduced by the idea of ​​being the fastest on the water.

For this, this Ferrari motorboat has at its heart an engine derived directly from F1. Something to which various changes in the mechanics are added to make this racing boat an aquatic ace that still retains the world speed record in its category of 800 kilos. Nowadays in perfect condition, the Ferrari Arno XI is currently on sale for a price only declared under consultation.


Achille Castoldi is one of the key names in the history of racing on water. Born in 1904, this engineer began to collect world speed records from 1930. As he rose in category, his ambition did so in time, requiring increasingly powerful engines. Thus, after alternating Maserati and Alfa Romeo devices applied to their boats, being the fastest in the 800 kilo segment required something more: a Ferrari speedboat.

speedboat ferrari boat

Thus, in 1952 Castoldi used his good relations with Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi to reach Enzo Ferrari. Considering that these two drivers were the first of the Scuderia in a newly opened F1 in 1950… It certainly couldn't have had better ambassadors. At this point the idea was clear: get the Maranello guys to deliver one of the engines from the last F1 season. Neither more nor less than a V12 of 4 liters and 5CV heart of the 385 F375.

Seduced by the idea of ​​also being the fastest on the water, Enzo Ferrari collaborated willingly, involving Aurelio Lampredi - chief engine designer - to work with Castoldi. With these facilities the pace of work was accelerating, having this Ferrari boat ready in 1952. Yes indeed, the Ferrari Arno XI raises the power of the original engine to 550 / 600CV thanks to two compressors and a much more demanding compression ratio. Everything to move its 6,2 meters long.


After some first tests, on October 15, 1953 the decisive hour for this racing boat arrived. Beat the world speed record in the 800 kg category. For this, Castoldi moved to Lake Iseo - near Bergamo-. There reached 242'708 km / h of top speed, achieving a record that has not yet been surpassed within its category. A great success for this Ferrari boat, which would still be in competition for a few more years. Of course, just one more with Castoldi, since he suffered a hard accident in 1954 that caused his retirement.

Stored in a warehouse, it was rescued for action by Nando Dell'Orto, who bought this racing boat in 1958. By making some modifications to the engine, this new owner made the Arno XI win the 1963 European Championship. After this second life, the Ferrari motorboat ended up in warehouses until the end of the 90s, at which point it is seen again in temporary assignments to the Ferrari Museum. Here he also experiences his first restoration, which didn't really touch the engine too much. Something that has just been corrected a few months ago with the meticulous work carried out by Ferrari Classiche.

Now this 1952 Ferrari Arno XI speedboat looks like it did in the early days, hoping to find a new owner through the DuPont Registry. Definitely, one of the strangest Ferraris of all time. In fact, the only one designed to move on water.

What do you think?

Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.


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