Parilla Motorcycles

With Phil Aynsley


Parilla is best known for its long line of four-stroke singles that had a very successful run from soon after the company’s founding in 1946 right through to the 1960s.

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
The Parilla 125GP

Giovanni Parrilla (two ‘r’s) was born in Spain in 1912 but around 1920 the family moved to Calabria in Italy.

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
Parilla 125GP

After military service he worked in Milan as a diesel mechanic. Parrilla was a keen follower of GP racing and decided in 1946 to build his own race bikes. After buying a Manx Norton to study, his first design went on to win a local race!

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
The design was inspired by a Manx Norton

The company’s high-cam 175s and 250s proved very competitive mounts for a decade (and their silver with red/black pinstripes colours were a homage to that Manx Norton), but it was to be a radical new bike that changed the face of GP racing – without even entering a race.

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
Parilla 125GP

In 1960 company engineer Cesare Bossaglia designed a 125cc machine that featured a horizontal cylinder fed by a rotary disc-valve (believed to be the first such motor designed and built in the West).

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
Parilla 125GP

This layout went on to be used by Kreidler, Van Veen, Minarelli, Morbidelli etc for many years in their 50/80cc bikes. Parilla’s bike however never made it past the prototype stage (several were constructed), due to company restructuring and budget cuts.

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
The Parilla 125GP generated 21.5hp and weighed just 60kg

The effort wasn’t wasted however as the rotary disc valve two-stroke technology was used in one of the most successful ever kart racing motors – the Parilla Saetta.

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
Parilla 125GP

The 125GP made 21.5 hp at 12,500rpm and weighed only 60kg.

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
Parilla 125GP

PA ParillaGP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
Parilla 125GP

PA Parilla GP rotary disc valve fed horizontal cylinder
Parilla 125GP

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Neil C. Leach, Jr.
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Brilliant article as always. The most history packed into the fewest sentences anywhere. Photographed with love and an incisively technical eye. Simply the best anywhere.