The mighty Ferrari 375 V12 engine was directly responsible for delivering Formula One World Championships to the Scuderia in 1951 and 1952. Less well known is that an Italian world-class racing hydroplane achieved multiple victories using the same power plant.
Achille Castoldi, wealthy member of the noted Italian aviation family, commissioned the boat to be built by the Cantieri firm on Lake Como, and since he was a close personal friend of Ferrari team drivers Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, the door was opened to acquiring a new Ferrari engine for the racer.
After completion in 1953, the hydroplane, christened "Arno Xl", proved competitive, but not victorious. Castoldi returned to Ferrari, who modified the engine with two superchargers, compressing the fuel/air mix from twin four barrel Weber carburators. Fuel was switched to methanol, and horsepower rocketed from 385 to between 550-600 bhp!
Victories began to roll in, ultimately resulting in a new world speed record on 15 October, 1953, of 150.49 mph in the 800kg class.
Castoldi retired from racing in 1954, and in 1958 sold the boat to engineer Nando dell'Orto, who added the distinctive rear fin and "sharknose" front body work, adding to stability at speed. The boat was still competitive in the 900kg class as late as 1965.
Today, a large number of pre-built models and kits are available of the "Arno Xl", in varying scales and quality levels.
What you won't find however, are exquisitely constructed large-scale models of the boat's 375 engine, which is precisely what we have here. The Italian firm Amati, builders of high quality 1:8 scale kits of the Ferrari hydroplane, also made a very small number of engines in the same scale to complement the boats. These kits, now long out of production, sold for nearly $1000.00 when available.
Our magnificent example comes from a noted private collection, and to our knowledge was assembled in Europe by a highly accomplished (although currently unidentified) builder. The engine is all metal, featuring 125 cast metal parts, and 450 functional brass nuts and bolts! The eight intake trumpets are machined aluminum, and the engine weighs a hefty 3.5 pounds. It is an impressive size, measuring 8" long x 4.5" wide x 3.5" high, and is supported by turned aluminum legs affixed to a gloss black perspex base.
Our 1:43 scale Ferrari 500 F2 model is illustrated for size comparison. Reportedly, only a handful of these professionally built Amati Ferrari "Nautico" engines exist, and our example is absolutely stunning! The engine is supplied with a fitted perspex cover and can certainly take pride of place in any fine model collection or motosports display. Please note: the 1:8 scale hydroplane illustrated in the photographs is not included in this sale.