Rivolta 38 Jet Coupe

The Italians invented the concept of the grand touring car-a relatively luxurious closed automobile of exceptional style, speed and handling. Peiro Rivolta is Italian, and he drew from his family's experience in the design and construction of GT cars when he conceived the Rivolta 38 Jet Coupe. The moment I settled behind her wheel, I was at an auto show nestled into the driver's seat of an Iso Rivolta grand touring car.

Elements of the Jet Coupe's styling belie her interior volume. To provide the requisite headroom belowdecks, the design team of Rivolta Design and Hakan Södergren raised a lovely trunk cabin atop a stunning S-shape sheerline. These features disguise the high freeboard they needed for the accommodations, and they created a GT-like pilothouse.

I drove one of the earlier examples, before the joystick control and the bow thruster became a standard part of the package, and could not find fault with her speed and handling in the 1- to 2-foot seas and winds of about 10 knots. I recorded on the GPS a maximum of 29.6 knots at 3400 rpm. Powered by a pair of 350 hp Yanmars spinning Ultrajet drives, the Jet Coupe accelerates with the relatively leisurely "windup common to water jets.

She's quiet, too. Soundown took care of the mechanical noise from the engines and drives; the underwater exhaust squelches the typical roar. The stiff structure and insulation provided by the PVC-cored, vacuum-bagged laminate reduces the transmission of noise through the hull.

For a personal yacht, she has more than enough room below for a couple to cruise aboard for a week or more, plus a decent galley. The stowage beneath the island berth forward seemed able to swallow all my earthly soft-goods possessions. The double stateroom amidships is bigger than one would expect and is handy for children or occasional adult guests.

Expect to spend close to $600,000 for a reasonably well-equipped 38, but be prepared for the enticing option list. A cavalier approach to checking off options could easily add $50,000 to the sticker.

Her high-quality construction, finish and performance-nevermind the exclusivity-are worth it.

Rivolta, (941) 954-0355; www.rivolta.com.