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.
Giovanni Parrilla (two ‘r’s) was born in Spain in 1912 but around 1920 the family moved to Calabria in Italy.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
The 125GP made 21.5 hp at 12,500rpm and weighed only 60kg.