The first trick, should you ever decide to build a traditional speedboat, is to buy the wood 10 years in advance.
If you select the right timber – mainly mahogany, though a little pine and teak is useful too – and store it in dry conditions for a solid decade, the moisture level will be just about right, says Jürg Merens, from Swiss builder Pedrazzini.
All you’ll need then is up to 6000 man hours of labour (ideally using people with decades of boat-building experience), and a supply of high-quality engines and modern electronics. That’s because the sort of person who can afford a classic Italian-style 1950s speedboat isn’t going to put up with classic Italian-style 1950s carburettors or wiring.
Pedrazzini is one of only a handful of companies around the world making the type of all-wooden “runabouts” that routinely ferried the rich, famous and royal around the Monaco waterfront in the 1950s and ’60s. Three of these surviving companies are on the lakes of Switzerland. Another (perhaps the biggest in the world) is America’s Hacker-Craft on Lake George in New York State.
Italian maker Riva was undoubtedly the most famous supplier to the likes of Princess Grace and Brigitte Bardot. However, since the 1990s Riva has used fibreglass hulls, with mahogany panelling generally restricted to the bow deck as a reminder of earlier days.
The power choice is between one or two inboard V8s, with different power outputs available. Despite an all-up weight of about 5 tonnes (fibreglass might be less authentic, but it is lighter!), the most powerful version has over 600 kW on tap and delivers a top speed of about 42 knots, or 78 km/h.