By Tom White
Most serious Italian motorcycle collectors concede that the Parilla is a cult collector bike. The Wildcat is a “high-cam,” 250cc dirt bike that came with the road race engine from the very expensive Grand Sports model. The Wildcat Scrambler was built strictly for the American market.
Moto Parilla was founded in 1946 in Milan by Giovanni Parrilla. Giovanni created a full-bore, thoroughbred, 250cc overhead-cam racer that was soon rivaling Moto Guzzi for the checkered flag. In the years to follow, the engine would become a twin overhead camshaft design and would shrink to 175cc, yet power was increased to over 20 horsepower. In 1958, Giovanni traveled to America with factory rider Giuseppe Rottigne to race the 250cc Daytona Grand Prix. Unknown in America, the 175cc machine won the 250 Grand Prix by a convincing margin.
With scrambles gaining popularity, the American distributor, Cosmopolitan Motors, requested a dirt bike with a full 250cc engine. Parilla decided to use the same engine as on their Grand Sports road racing machine. In the days before the two-stroke revolution, the Parilla’s prime competition in the 250 class was the Triumph Cub. Racing the Wildcat Scramblers against the smaller Cubs was like stealing candy from a baby. And, even though the Wildcat cost nearly double the Triumph Cub, it sold quite well.
Unfortunately for Parilla, by the mid 1960s two-stroke Bultacos, Greeves, Ossas, Husqvarnas and CZs would render the four-stroke Parillas obsolete. The company folded in 1967.
1962 PARILLA WILDCAT SCRAMBLER FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
The 1962 retail price was $1000 (double that of its competitors). Today, Parilla Scramblers are difficult to find, especially unmolested examples in restorable condition. Expect to pay over $5000 for a restorable core and up to $12,000 for a nicely restored example.
Parilla made 49cc, 125cc, 150cc, 198cc, 185cc, and 250cc single-cylinder bikes, and 250 and 350 twins, but only the Wildcat Scrambler was a dirt bike.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Parilla engine is a work of art! Make sure the original Dell’orto carburetor with side float-bowl hasn’t been replaced. Standard forks and shocks are by Ceriani with rubber gators! The fenders are steel and very unique. It is almost impossible to find a replacement steel tank with the leather retaining strap in the rear. Original Pirelli tires would be a real bonus, as this “Motocross” (model name) tire is almost impossible to find.
For basic info, go to www.parilla.com. For parts, try www.boldprecision.com or Conway Link at (318) 797-0803.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com