Before I hit on the main feature of this article, I want to take a few minutes showing you how I came to be inspired into writing a short piece about a boat. Please bear with me.
With the released pictures of Lamborghini’s Egoista Concept (more of a single seat space fighter), it got me thinking about how since the 70s and the Countach, their cars have become more and more eccentric, exotic and powerful. This then led me to doing a little research into their history and stumbling upon their range of… tractors. Before Ferruccio Lamborghini could throw money at his childhood dream of racing cars, he would help build tractors for his family’s highly successful agricultural company, Lamborghini Trattori. Despite Furruccio chasing his dream of building the world’s perfect grand tourer, the tractors are still being built today. In fact, they look pretty exotic… for tractors.
I also remembered the golf carts made by the legendary Harley Davidson. Although it was thanks to Ferruccio’s family business that allowed the financial security to start Lamborghini’s car production, Harley Davidson had been a successful company for years. So what were they thinking building golf carts in the 60s? The most famous bikes on the planet, their reputation signifying Freedom and the American Dream, tattooed Hell’s Angels, Easy Rider, the list goes on… tainted by making the vehicles that taxi around the kind of people the original biker detested – leather and denim vs. Pringle and Ralph Lauren. They’re now producing leather golf bags. Live to Golf, Golf To Live!
So you see, these big brands have manufactured some odd sister products, which leads me to the beautiful Timossi-Ferrari Hydroplane. Back in the 30s and 40s it wasn’t just racing cars entertaining the masses, but speedboat races and speed records were also extremely popular all over the world. Although not made commercially, this Timossi-Ferrari “Arno XI” sold for over $800,000 in an auction in 2012.
Achille Castoldi was a wealthy boat owner and racer, and in 1940, he set the world speed record of 81.10mph in the 400kg class with his boat “Arno”, powered by an Alfa Romeo type 158 engine. After building a few more “Arnos” with Alfa power plants, Castoldi dropped the manufacturer in 1952.
A year later, Castoldi became more interested in setting top speed records than the circuit racing, so he commissioned an 800kg-class three-point hydroplane. It was to be built by hydroplane builder, Cantieri Timossi, situated in Lake Como, Milan. It was constructed with a solid wood frame skeleton and a marine plywood skin, stunningly finished with a mahogany veneer. Its aluminium fairing and engine cover were painted in traditional Italian-racing red. The hull was called the Arno XI. Now for the engine…
Enter the prancing horse – Ferrari supplied Castoldi with their type 375 V-12 Grand Prix engine, the same power plant used in their race cars in 1951 and 1952. The V12 displacement was 4493.7 cc, each cylinder an 80 mm bore & 74.5 mm stroke. With two spark plugs per cylinder, and a 12:1 compression ratio, the stock engine produced around 385 bhp.
To break his rival, Verga’s new record, a new engine would be built with the addition of twin superchargers with 4 giant barrel Weber carburettors. Compression ratios could be increased due to the engine being tuned to run on methanol. “Arno XI’s”, twin-supercharged 4.5L Ferrari engine now produced an enormous 600 bhp.
Enzo Ferrari even went as far sending his chief race engineer of the Scuderia to help prepare this new supercharged engine. On the morning of October 15, 1953, with Grand Prix champion Alberto Ascari and driver Luigi Villoresi in attendance, Achille Castoldi smashed the 800kg class speed record with an average two-way speed of 150.49 mph. In celebration the track stars Ascari and Villoresi boarded a small boat and pulled up alongside Arno XI to congratulate him. Later that day he broke the “24 nautical miles” event with an average speed of 102.34 mph.
After a terrifying engine failure at high speeds in a new airplane-engined 1700 kg Timossi hydroplane, Castoldi retired from 1954. As for his rival, Mario Verga, he unfortunately met his end in a separate hydroplane accident a short time after.