The engines for the mahagony classics came from America — mainly from Chris Craft and Chrysler. In the early years, Italian shipyard owners such as Luigi Scarani from Rio and Carlo Riva joined forces, as the manufacturers only sold in larger quantities.

Chris Craft

Christopher Columbus Smith was just 13 years old when he built his first boat in the US state of Michigan. It was small and open.

Shipyard founder Chris Columbus Smith © chriscraft.com

This was 1874 and at that time such boats were primarily used for duck hunting and fishing. Smith trained as a boat builder at the age of 18, however his interest in boats was not purely driven by passion, he also had financial ambitions. At the beginning of the 20th century, the construction of motor boats was reserved for the wealthy. In 1906, Smith presented his first proper motorboat — at a length of 7.9 meters and a top speed of 30 km/h.

Around the time Henry Ford had his first automobiles built on an assembly line, Chris Smith also began producing power boats and engines in the same way. Teaming up with his brother Hank, word spread quickly about the exceptional performance of their boats and business began to flourish.

First pictures from the assembly line © chriscraft.com

In the period between the two world wars, the Smith brothers began to build increasingly luxurious boats. Crafted from fine mahogany wood — they were extremely valuable, reliable and elegant.

Elvis Presley was seen on this Chris Craft boat ©chriscraft.com

The boats were nicknamed "Chris Craft." "Craft" stands for boat, but also for handicraft! "Chris Craft" eventually became an expensive brand name.

At the end of the 20s, the boat yard was the world's biggest producer and when shipyard founder, Chris Smith, died in 1939, he was the most successful boat builder. He had handed the business over to his son, Jay, a few years earlier.

In the mid-fifties, the infamous Runaboats were built, which became the inspiration the Italian boat builders: Rio, Riva, Arcangeli and many others!

In 1962, Chris Craft was sold — for what was then a gigantic sum of 40 million US Dollars. In 1969, the era of wooden boats came to an end at Chris Craft. Future boats were to be built from plastic.

In the decades following, the Chris Craft boatyard changed hands several times. Their boats and engines are unforgettable.


Attaining a similar legendary status, V8 engines from Chrysler also made their way from the car industry to the boat world, to join the Rio legends.

Chrysler Motor Corporation was founded in 1925 and, after several takeovers, quickly developed into the third largest automobile manufacturer in the United States.

The first model of the newly founded Chrysler Motor Corporation was the Chrysler B-70.

1924: Chrysler B-70

This was powered by a 3.3-liter-in-line engine with six cylinders. It formed the basis for a family of four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines with up to 6.3 liters displacement.

From the 50s Chrysler was also sold in Europe.

1957: Chrsyler 300C
1963: Chrysler Turbine
1975: Chrysler Cordoba

As a result of risky acquisitions, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy at the end of the 70s, but was rescued with the help of government backing.

In 1998, Daimler-Benz and Chrysler merged. From then on, the company was known as DaimlerChrysler AG. In 2007, Chrysler was sold again and eventually acquired by Fiat.

In 2010, Fiat took the decision to almost completely stop selling Chrysler models on the European market.


Rolls-Royce Limited was founded in 1904 by Charles Rolls and Henry Royce. From early on, Royce, an industrial entrepreneur, tried his hand designing engines.

In 1965, Rolls-Royce and Rio agreed on a cooperation to produce the special edition Rolls-Rio, equipped with a V8 engine, from the English car manufacturer.