R. Soriano SA
Obscure Spanish motorcycle marques
1944 96cc Soriano Tigre
With Phil Aynsley
As a change from obscure Italian marques how about an obscure Spanish one?
R.Soriano SA was founded in Madrid in 1941 by the impressively named Ricardo Soriano Hermensdorff von Scholtz, Marquis of Ivanrey.
He was quite a talented engineer who lived in France, Switzerland and Spain at various times. He designed and built a range of small two-wheelers but not before some interesting stops along the way!
In France he and a fellow marquis built the Soriano-Pedroso car from 1919-1924. In 1930 he turned his attention to outboard racing engines for hydroplanes.
Both four and six cylinder OHC designs were built with OSSA manufacturing a small run of the four cylinder motor (a supercharged 658cc unit).
The six cylinder was closely based on the four and a modified (to DOHC) version powered Jean Dupuy to the World Speed Record of 79.04mph in 1939.
An intriguing development came in 1942 when the US Army Corps of Engineers asked Evinrude to adapt the Soriano motor to power what became known as Storm Boats.
While their modified design was highly thought of, without any original plans or machine tools, it could not be made in the required time frame, so the project was abandoned.
In a precursor to Soriano’s own motorcycles, Manuel Giró (the founder of OSSA) fitted one of the supercharged fours to a BMW chassis, then later a sidecar, on which he won the Spanish Championship just after the war!
After a few prototypes made before the war, the first Soriano bikes were manufactured in 1942 and were designed to be a “people’s motorcycle” – not dissimilar to the Vespa concept of 15 years later.
A feature of the bike was the use of small, 8 inch diameter wheels – which made for a very compact, “unthreatening” bike. In 1944 the improved Tigre model was released, followed by the Puma, Lince (Lynx) and Pantera.
About 6000 Sorianos were produced before the company quit the motorcycle business (they also made industrial motors, generators and the like).
This bike is a 1944 96cc Tigre. And as a final piece of trivia, the Tigre featured on a stamp issued by the Republic of Equatorial Guinea in 2003!