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Ferrari Boat Arno XI from Carrera RC

By Hal Miller
Published: July 15, 2013
Ferrari Boat Arno XI 2
Carrera RC's Ferrari Boat Arno XI comes ready to run.
Ferrari Boat Arno XI
Carrera RC's Ferrari Boat Arno XI cuts through the waves of Lake Michigan.
Product: Most people are familiar with the Carrera brand because of the company’s nicely detailed slot cars and tracks. The company is also a radio-controlled vehicle manufacturer and has released a model of the 1950s-vintage Timossi-Ferrari Arno XI racing boat.

Built in 1952, the boat was powered by a Ferrari V-12 engine and set a speed record for a vessel of its type, going more than 150 mph. The same type of Ferrari engine, later given more than 500 hp, was also used in Grand Prix cars of the time.

Carrera’s substantial, injection-molded version of the boat also includes a stand with the boat’s name, a 2.4-GHz transmitter, a four-cell Lithium-Ion battery pack and charger, and four AAA batteries for the transmitter. The boat, powered by a water-cooled 540 motor, is modeled with the changes made by Italian engineer Nando Dell’Orto, who bought it in the mid-1950s and raced it until 1960. A figure representing Dell’Orto occupies the cockpit, and a sticker just under the driver’s position bears his name.

The real Arno XI hydroplane still exists and sold for almost $1.2 million at an auction in 2012.

Performance: My son 12-year-old son, Cameron, saw the boat for the first time and, without knowing its history, said, “That looks like an old Formula I car made into a boat.” He was pretty much correct. It look beautiful in the box, with its arresting Ferrari-red cowl. Carrera’s graphics make it an attractive package to put on the shelf.

The livery on the boat includes pad-printing and factory-applied stickers. There’s plenty to indicate Ferrari power under the hood.

Out of the box, the boat feels solid. This isn’t a vacuum-formed item. Rather, it’s made of very sturdy, injection-molded plastic parts.
The battery pack is assembled with a miniature Deans-type connector and a balance-port charger connection. The charger produces a full battery in about two hours. The charger also flashes a red light when charging and a green one when the task is complete.
There are several things to do next that aren’t completely obvious, and the instruction book should be consulted. One is to put the batteries in the transmitter. There is a small, square black button on the top of the grip just above where the “V” of your hand goes; when pushed, it releases the “clip” for the batteries. Insert them per directions and slip the battery holder back in until it snaps tight.

Once the boat’s battery is charged, there is a slide switch aft of the cockpit that releases the body and allows access to the battery compartment. Unscrew the compartment, connect the battery, tuck all the wires in and replace the cover.

When ready to run the boat, turn on the radio with the button at the back of the unit and flip the rubber-booted switch on the hydroplane next to the battery compartment to the “on” position. When the transmitter “binds” to the boat, red lights at the front of the radio will light continuously.

If you’re like me, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn the wheel on the radio to see if the rudder is working properly, and press the throttle trigger to make sure the motor will run. While the boat is dry, neither will work. The boat must be in the water for anything to move. Ostensibly, this is to make sure the water-cooled engine isn’t run “dry” and damaged by overheating. It could be rather quickly, as the drivetrain is well sealed in the hull.

Indeed, after running the boat, I opened the drain hole on the top of the hull and no water came out, so it’s very watertight.

Once in the water, everything fires up instantly. The boat, although not as fast as its appearance might indicate, gets up on plane and is very maneuverable.

Cameron, who is my frequent product-testing helper, took the throttle and put the Arno XI through its paces on Lake Michigan. There was a bit of a breeze and a few waves, but the boat plowed through them well, and the cooling system functioned exactly as designed.

Cameron ran the boat pretty hard and got about 15–17 minutes of performance out of the battery. There was an audible drop in engine performance as the battery ran out of juice, allowing him to get it back to the shore. As the battery is cycled, run times should get longer.

The radio has a number of neat features. It’s like a large slot-car controller, which makes sense given the company’s primary business. The wheel can be moved to the opposite side to accommodate left-handed drivers. It also includes controls to change trim, and forward and reverse on both sides. There’s no base to the radio, but it does include a lanyard, so the unit can hang around the driver’s neck.

Marketing: Although it’s a great looking boat, there are other products at this price point that are more geared toward your customers who want to go fast. This one is for someone looking for a durable, attractive boat to take to their lake house on the weekends; someone looking for something more toylike than for racing.

It’s a product that will have people taking notice as it runs, and it’s very sturdy so you can definitely feel safe putting it in the hands of the kids or grandkids.

If you have a customer who wants a nice running model of a unique piece of racing history, this might be the boat for them.

Product: Ferrari Boat Arno XI
Maker: Carrera RC
Scale: Box
Stock number: 300005
MSRP: $279.99
Availability: Carrera USA

BOTTOM LINE • Beautiful and eye-catching
• For high-end buyers
• Well-built and sturdy