In 1966 Don Aronow, the offshore champion and boat builder, built himself a new 27′ race boat, which he named “Maltese Magnum”. The boat became World Champion and Don Aronow built a small factory to build more boats just like it: Magnum Marine was founded.
Don Aronow built his new factory on NE 188th Street in North Miami, right next to the factory he had just built and sold called Donzi. In another two years he was to build a third factory on the street, Cigarette. Thereafter, the street was called Thunderboat Row. Don Aronow also built a 35′ race boat; both the Magnum27’ and the new 35′ were winning championships all over the world. To these two very successful models, Don Aronow added a 16′ ski boat, the Marauder, and a 16′ tunnel hull, the Missile.
In 1976, Magnum Marine was sold to Marchese Filippo Theodoli and his wife Katrin. This brought major change into the production line. Filippo had the innovative idea of transforming the race boat into a high performance luxury yacht, combining sea worthiness of the race boat with the luxurious accommodations and comforts of a yacht, which the owner could drive by himself. He also insisted on reliability and fuel efficiency and, therefore, was the first to install diesel engines in a Magnum.
Filippo Theodoli was the inventor of the open sport yacht, which soon was copied and became so successful, especially in the Mediterranean. The fact that owners could now buy a comfortable and fast boat, that they could drive themselves, in safety, with range to reach islands like Sardinia and Corsica, opened the islands for tourism, and hotels shot up everywhere, whilst before there were only a few private villas.
The first boat of this new era was the Magnum 53′, a wide beamed high performance yacht with 7′ head room and two double cabins each with separate heads, salon, galley and crew cabin, equipped with twin diesel engines. Delivered to the Mediterranean in 1977, this first Magnum yacht became an enormous success. She was fast, seaworthy and had the spacious and luxurious interiors of a yacht. Other high performance yachts followed: the Magnum 45′ in 1980, and the Magnum 40′, which replaced the Magnum 38′.
Besides the novel use of high-performance marinized diesel engines, Filippo had the new idea of installing surface drives on his Magnum performance boats. He met Howard Arneson, the inventor of the Arneson surface drive, at a boat show and was immediately convinced of the technical advantages of this new drive. Howard is one of the major innovators in the marine world. The new surface drive brought more speed, less drag and better fuel efficiency to boating and, after Filippo had met Howard and demonstrated the advantages of the surface drive to his friends and clients, every Magnum thereafter was equipped with this new drive system.
Filippo also consulted with his friend Phil Rolla to build the most efficient customized propellers for these new surface drives. The collaboration between Howard Arneson, Phil Rolla and Filippo with the Magnum hull created the fastest and most technologically advanced vessel of its time. In 1980, Filippo started working with the famous Italian designer Pininfarina of Ferrari fame and in 1983 the first Magnum 63’, designed by Pininfarina was launched. With diesel power, surface drives and Rolla propellers, the Magnum 63’ was the fastest, most fuel efficient, most seaworthy yacht in the world.
In 1990 Filippo Theodoli died, leaving the Magnum boatyard to his wife Katrin. Because Katrin loved Magnum, because she felt an enormous responsibility towards all those who had been working with Magnum for so many years, and lastly because she was irked and challenged by being told that no woman could ever run a boat company, she decided not to sell Magnum Marine and to keep her husband’s legacy alive. Whilst she secretly learned how to drive a boat, she thought about designing her new and ideal Magnum. She consulted with Pininfarina and other designers such as Paolo Martin and the Brazilian Luiz de Basto.
In 1993, three years after Filippo’s death, she launched her first new model, the Magnum 50’ “Bestia” or “the Beast”. This boat was unbelievable and Katrin tells the story that, when she first took the new Magnum 50’ for a test run and photo shoot with a helicopter overhead, she ran into enormous gale force winds and huge waves. She put her hand on the throttles to see what her new boat would do; the acceleration gave her a jolt – it was like taking off with supersonic speed – and the speedometer showed 72 MPH. But, at the same time, the ride was smooth and comfortable. The Magnum sliced through the waves and felt as if she were driving on a flat highway. After the photo shoot, the photographer said: “I have photographed many boats, but I have never seen such a performance in rough seas. She’s not a boat, she’s like a beast.”
The interiors of the new Magnum 50’ were designed for Katrin by the French House of Hermes. HM the King of Spain immediately ordered one of Katrin’s new Magnum 50’ power yachts. In 1999, Katrin developed a new Magnum 44’ designed by Luiz de Basto, one of the most admired vessels of the new Magnum fleet. There are many Magnum 44s in St. Tropez and the story was told that a Magnum 44’ with its deep-vee hull at high speed once sliced another boat in half… no one was hurt, but it clearly proved the strength of the Magnum hull. Shortly thereafter, in 2001, Katrin launched the new Magnum 60’. Katrin designed the new Magnum 60’ herself. After sea trials and speeds of close to 70 MPH, she called her new model “Furia”. Furia has become the most successful of the Magnum models, beautiful, spacious and fast.
Katrin’s designs are a statement of performance and utmost luxury. The requirement is that Magnums not only perform but are also quiet, comfortable and of the best quality. Katrin asked Roberto Cavalli to design the interiors of the first Magnum 60’ for the famous rock star Lenny Kravitz. The press described the Cavalli interiors as “shagadellic” and “cool”. Lenny Kravitz is said to love his Magnum, which he uses to commute to his house in the Bahamas. He is quoted as saying:
“I did not buy my Magnum because it is a status symbol. I bought it to leave the world behind.”
Soon, another rock star, this time the legendary French singer Johnny Halliday, would buy a Magnum, which he took delivery of in St. Tropez. Also in 2001 Katrin launched the first Magnum 80’; the largest Magnum ever built. The new Magnum 80’ hull was designed by the famous naval architect, specialized in performance, Michael Peters. The composite/epoxy hull structure ensures a lighter weight and improved fuel efficiency and performance. The deck was designed by the talented Italian designer, Fabrizio Valentini of Pininfarina.
Another 80’ model was launched in 2008, followed by a gorgeous new Magnum 70’ model designed by Italian designers, Lazzarini & Pickering. The new Magnum 70’, equipped with Twin MTU diesels of 2600HP each coupled to surface drives, flattens the sea as if she were a huge Mack truck. Again, at close to 70 mph, she is the fastest high-performance yacht of this size in the world today. Interiors by the famous Italian architects, are spacious and beautiful; minimalist in style and all-white, mostly in leather, they provide exquisite design and luxurious finish. The performance and the stability are amazing, as one of the officers of the U.S. Customs who tested the Magnum wrote: “Magnum is the finest performance offshore craft in existence today”.