By Tom White

Most serious Italian motorcycle collectors concede that 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, single-overhead-cam road racer that was soon rivaling Moto Guzzi for the checkered flag. In the years to follow, the Parilla-designed engine would become legendary. Even after Parilla lowered the displacement to 175cc, horsepower was increased. In 1958 Giovanni traveled to America with factory racer 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, American distributor Cosmopolitan Motors requested a dirt bike with a full 250cc engine. Parilla decided to use the engine from its Grand Sports road racing machine. The horsepower was upped to a claimed 30 horsepower at 9500 rpm. 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. The 1962 retail price was $729. The Wildcats featured suede seats, reverse-cone megaphones, side float-bowl 28mm Dell’orto carbs, friction steering dampers, leather straps holding the rear of the tanks, right-side shifting and footpegs that were mounted on long struts. Unfortunately for Parilla, by the mid-1960s two-stroke Bultacos, Greeves, Ossas, Husqvarnas and CZs would render the four-stroke Parillas obsolete. The company was bought by a holding company in 1962, but the new owners went out of business in 1967.

Parilla was most famous for its street and road racing bikes, including the 75cc Capriola, 98cc Ramjet, 100cc Olimpia, 175cc Grand Sport, 250cc Tourist single-cylinder models, and 250 and 350 twins. For offroad riding, Cosmopolitan offered the $729 Wildcat Scrambler, $639 Trailmaster 250 Enduro model and $439 four-stroke 125cc Scrambler. Today, Parilla Wildcat Scramblers are considered works of art. Expect to pay over $5000 for a restorable core and up to $12,000 for a nicely restored example.



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