You may not know it, but Ferrari helped power a powerful racing boat back in the 1950s that was built for one thing: breaking the World Speed Record on the water. Achille Castoldi, a racing champion, proposed such a boat to the one and only Enzo Ferrari who agreed to help him in the endeavor.
Enzo Ferrari put his best engineers on the project and was even personally involved. The result was a one-of-a-kind Ferrari engine that sat atop a boat built by Timossi Azzano’s Cantieri boatyard on Lake Como, Italy; a hydroplane made of steel, marine-grade wood and mahogany that weighed only 1,764 lbs.
Next up, they needed an engine, and a powerful one at that. This is where Ferrari’s top engineers put their brilliant minds to work. Being 1952, Ferrari was fairly new to Formula One, but their engines were already proving to be incredible powerplants. Because of this early success, they chose the same 4.5-liter Type 375m 12-cylinder Ferrari engine that was built for the Ferrari 375 race car. But that’s where the similarities ended. This motor would be one that Ferrari had never built before or since.
Only four engines were created for Ferrari’s Formula One team in the early 1950s, with three of them being built for the race cars and ONE destined for the hydroplane. Initially, this engine only created 350 bhp for the cars, but this wasn’t enough for Castoldi or the team at Ferrari. So, they started a series of “firsts,” including changing the engine to run on methanol fuel. They developed two large magnetos so that the engine could continue to run, even if covered in water. They gave the F1 engine 24 sparkplugs instead of the usual 12. The hand build also included two superchargers, two four-choke carburetors and a custom gear box. The result meant a 500 bhp engine, 150 more bhp than the boat’s automotive counterpart!
Once the Ferrari engine was installed and the boat was painted in an unmistakable Ferrari red finish, it was time for Castoldi to put the hydroplane to the test. On October 15, 1953, at Lake Iseo, Italy, Castoldi sat in the cockpit, ready to accomplish what he had been working for. As the crowd looked on, he managed a two-way average speed of 150.19 mph, breaking the 800kg classic record by a wide margin; a record that still stands to this day. Shortly after this run, he went on to break another record in the 24-nautical mile event. The Ferrari Timossi had fulfilled its destiny.
Since then, the championship boat has had three different owners. The second owner, after Castoldi, was Nando Dell’Orto, who also raced the boat until 1968. This Ferrari would then sit in a warehouse for more than 25 years. In the 1990s, Ferrari enthusiast Luciano Mombelli purchased the boat and treated it to a full factory restoration at Ferrari. The engineers at Ferrari took their time and put their craftsmanship to the test, ensuring that the boat was returned to its original specifications. They succeeded in beautiful fashion with the same 1952 engine producing the same 500hp, more than 40 years later.
In 2012, the fourth and current owner purchased the world-record championship race boat. Ferrari soon reached out and asked if he could loan the boat to the Ferrari museums in Modena and Maranello. Currently, the boat sits next to Enzo Ferrari’s father, Alfredo’s, original engine workshop. For not being a car, this boat is one of the most significant and rarest Ferraris ever built, making it a must-see attraction at the museums. There will never be another one like it.
Now, this Ferrari is for sale and looking for a new owner. It comes with a well-documented history file that includes hundreds of period photographs and handwritten notes from Ferrari’s engineers. The boat is currently being certified at Ferrari Classiche, and a copy of the U.I.M. record certification that attests to Achille Castoldi’s 1953 speed record is included as well. It is the ultimate Ferrari for the ultimate Ferrari collector.