1959 Riva Ariston #219
- written by Dan Diehl
In 2009 I went to the Tavares boat show looking for information on restoring my
21' Cobra. Terry Fiest had his beautifully restored Cobra at the show and
I thought I would take pictures of it to help with my project. After
finding many of the parts I needed at the show's swap meet and getting my
pictures of Terry's boat, I was feeling pretty good about my Cobra. My
friend Clay Thompson, a knowledgeable and prolific restorer of wooden boats,
and I headed for the docks to see the boats that were there for the show.
As it turns out, the Marque Class group for the '09 show was the Riva series of
boats. Clay is also an owner of a Riva Aquarama and a Riva 1959
Tritone. When we walked out on the dock, there was an Ariston on each
side of the walkway. I was spellbound. I've always thought the
Cobra had the best lines of any boat ever built but when I saw the Ariston, I
put it at the top next to the Cobra. In my mind, these are the two most
beautiful boats ever made. Right there, that day, I knew I had to have an
I'm the kind of guy who loves a project. All of my boats are "near
basket cases" when I acquire them. Well, try to find a junked out
Ariston! There aren't many. After looking on the internet for
several months, both in the US and in other parts of the world, I was having no
luck at finding a project Ariston and was getting more and more
One night Clay called me to tell me about a project Ariston he found on Peter
Mellon's Antique Boat America website. Their web site has a huge
number of boats and receives thousands of visitors each day.
I immediately called Peter and he made arrangements
with the owner in Houston for me to take a look. My wife, Alicia,
and I flew from Tulsa to see it. It was truly a "milamore"
boat. That means it looks good from a mile or more. It was
discouraging at first but it did have most of the hardware with it.
Alicia said it was a boat with "lots of potential but not much
else". The only thing keeping it in one piece was the fiberglass
someone had put on the outside of it years ago in an attempt at
"restoration". Peter did a great job of negotiating the deal
and a week later Alicia and I drove down to trailer it home. This
Ariston, #219, was one of the first three boats brought to the United States by
Carlo Riva in 1959 for the Miami Boat Show. As it turns out, Clay's
Tritone is one of the other Rivas brought to that show. What are the odds
of that? Both boats are shown in the Riva books as being side by side at
the 1959 Miami Boat Show and here they were about to be brought back together.
Both, though, are in TERRIBLE shape. We just couldn't
resist the urge to get the boats together again after 50 years for some
pictures. So, on our way home, we took a long detour to Clay's home in
Altus, Oklahoma to re-unite these two potentially gorgeous boats. We took
pictures, ate dinner with Clay and his wife Patty and were off to Tulsa.
Now the real fun begins.
Many thanks go out to Peter Mellon and Clay Thompson for finding the boat for
us. I mostly want to thank my wife Alicia, for having enough faith in me
to help make it happen.
Both boats at the 1959 Miami Boat Show
Reunited once again in 2009