The new Bugatti Chiron makes 1,400 horsepower and the Koenigsegg One:1 makes 1,341 — both have theoretical top speeds of over 260 mph. Couple those with engineering and design marvels like the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918, it’s clear that we’re nearing Peak Supercar. The performance figures above are already too much for the talents of the average driver on public roads. We can’t be too far off from engineers inevitably realizing that thousands of horsepower and unobtainable top speeds are a fruitless exercise; meanwhile, tightening safety standards can only mean designers’ imaginations are asphyxiating. Where do we go from here?
To escape the looming constraints of the road, car manufacturers sometimes team up with a boat builders to make truly special vessels. Ferrari, Lamborghini and even Cadillac have lent their engines for maritime duty. Beyond offering a chance for car manufacturers to show off the versatility of their engineering, the open water is an entirely new universe in which designers can really stretch their legs, with no NHTSA to hold them back. Some absolutely stunning aquatic machinery has been produced when car makers and boat builders have collaborator, and by the looks of it, today’s designers are starting to push the envelope even farther.
AM 37 S
Aston Martin’s design department and Quintessence Yachts worked together to create the best seafaring translation of an Aston Martin road car anyone could hope for. A fully wooden deck leads to a cockpit complete with leather-backed bucket seats and a double-stitched saddle-leather-wrapped steering wheel. Just like Aston’s road cars, the boat can be further customized through Q by Aston Martin. And in true Aston fashion, there’s no shortage of engine displacement: 17.2 liters split between two 520-horsepower V8’s.
Length: 37 feet
Engine: Two 8.6-liter Mercury V8s
Top Speed: 52 knots / 60 mph
Silver Arrows Marine
One look at the sleek and flowing designs of Mercedes-Benz’s current cars and it’s obvious the designers have been itching to cut their teeth on a project like this. In conjunction with Moncaco-based Silver Arrows Marine yacht builders, Mercedes Design was able to build an S-Class for the sea.
Length: 46.5 feet
Engine: Two Yanmar 6LY3-ETP inline-six diesel engines
Top Speed: 38 knots / 44 mph
Marauder AMG GT S
Mercedes’s performance arm, AMG, has worked with Cigarette Racing in the past to create absolutely raucous aquatic racing machines. The Marauder GT S is no different, getting some coloring and styling cues from the road car bearing the same name. It also follows the AMG ethos of ridiculous horsepower, spinning two 1550 Mercury V8s out back for a combined 3,100 horsepower and a top speed of 135 mph.
Length: 50 feet
Engine: Two Mercury Racing 1550 V8’s
Top Speed: 117.3 knots / 135 mph
1953 “Arno XI” Racing Hydroplane
Photo: RM Sothebys
Manufacturers putting their engineering and design prowess on the water isn’t a modern-day trend. During the ’50s, high-powered hydroplane racing boats saw a surge in performance. Italy’s premier speedboat racer, Achille Castoldi, was known for putting Maserati and Alfa Romeo power in his boats, but his crowning achievement was the Arno XI. Using a hull designed by Cantieri Timossi and the same Ferrari F1 V12 that earned Marinello their first Formula 1 victory and World Championship the year before, Castoldi set a 800kg-class top speed record of 150.19 mph (that still stands today) and average speed record of 102.34 mph over a distance of 24 kilometers.
Length: 20 feet
Engine: 4,493cc Ferrari Tipo 375 F1 V12
Top Speed: 130.5 knots / 150 mph
Aquarama Lamborghini Custom
The story of Feruccio Lamborghini complaining about, then sending back, his Ferrari is the stuff of legends — it’s why he started building cars in the first place. Less well known is the story of Mr. Lamborghini customizing his Riva Aquarama. Thinking the standard engine underpowered, he gave Carlo Riva two Lamborghini 350 GT 4.0 V12’s to wedge in the back. Had Riva been as stubborn as Enzo Ferrari, who knows, maybe there’d be more seafaring Lamborghinis than just the one.
Length: 29 feet
Engine: Two 4.0-liter V12’s
Top Speed: 48 knots / 55 mph
1990 Ferrari 32
The Riva Ferrari 32 exudes ’90s supercar styling with a massive carbon-fiber spoiler over the cockpit, Testarossa-inspired side intakes and a hull painted classic Rosso Corsa. Only 30 were made, making it rarer than some of the road cars to leave Maranello at the time.
Length: 32 feet
Engine: Two BPM Vulcano 400 V8’s
Top Speed: 54 knots / 62 mph