We’re well accustomed to boat designers stealing the curves, the fabrics and the detailing of car designs in order to bring mass appeal to their niche creations (see: Aston Martin 37 and Revolver 43CC), but what is much less common is a car that takes design cues from a yacht. And yet in the latest crossover, Riva, that most exalted of yacht builders, has teamed up with another powerhouse of Italian design, Fiat, to generate a "Special Edition" Riva-flavoured 500.

Riva designs range of Fiat 500s

The special edition "Riva-flavoured" Fiat 500.

While this charmingly diminutive city car was conceived as a means of bringing fun, stylish and affordable motoring to the masses, this latest move sees it ramp up the desirability quotient to a new level with high-end yachting touches like a mahogany dashboard with maple inlays, ivory leather seat trim from Italian furniture maker, Poltrona Frau, and an exclusive Riva ‘Sera Blue’ paintjob with an aquamarine accent and matching alloy wheels. You also get some sparkly chrome plating on the handles, wing mirrors and bonnet trim, a solid mahogany gear knob, some subtly positioned Riva logos and (for Europe’s first 500 customers) a numbered badge behind the handbrake.

The new car comes either as a hatchback or a convertible, and while the engine is Fiat’s standard 1.2-litre unit, that is also available in a variety of configurations, with outputs at 69, 85 or 105hp. Plainly then, the novelty of the new car is much more to do with the external design flourishes than the core underpinnings, but happily, the 500, even in standard form, has always garnered plenty of critical acclaim. In short, if you’re in need of something between a Vespa and a Ferrari to pop on the back of your boat for your next colour-coded cruise, the Riva Fiat might be just the thing.

Riva inspires new Fiat 500 range

The yacht-style design flourishes are indisputably attractive.

Take a look at these Five classic powerboats: Triana, Broom, Riva, Fairey, Albatross – now they would make interesting little cars!


Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.