Giovanni Parrilla was born in southern Italy in 1912 but later moved to Milan to begin work as a mechanic working on diesel injection pumps. In 1946 he went into the motorcycle business (dropping one of the ‘r’s from his name) with two new OHC 250cc racing bikes, designed by Guiseppi Salmaggi (ex-Rumi).
1953 saw the famous “high-cam” motor introduced in 175cc capacity. This had the chain driven cam at the level of the combustion chamber, with very short pushrods operating the overhead valves (some factory race bikes used a gear drive instead of a chain).
The 175 was extremely successful both in Europe, and later in the US where one won the 1958 Daytona 250GP.
By the beginning of the ‘60s the demand for decent off road competition bikes was growing in the US which resulted in Parilla’s importer Cosmopolitan Motors requesting a bike to fill that void. The company produced the Wildcat in 1961 as their response. This US only model used the high-cam motor enlarged to 250cc.
Despite costing twice as much as its common class competitor, Triumph’s Tiger Cub, the Wildcat sold well. The lights and tachometer were factory accessories. 26hp at 9,500rpm joined with a weight of 114kg, created a top speed of 135km/h.
However by the mid ‘60s two-strokes began to take over off road racing and Parilla’s time in the sun was over.
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