Rare Air: Moto Parilla 175 MSDS F3

The factory race version of the regular production MSDS, the F3 was built in extremely small numbers.

| May/June 2018

If there is only one thing to know about Italian motorcycles, it might be this fun fact: From 1900 until the present day, there have been hundreds of Italian motorcycle manufacturers. In fact, there is an entire micro region known as the Motor Valley that has been home to many of the most famous car and motorcycle companies, including Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, and more than 40 motorcycle manufacturers including Ducati.

Balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese and high-performance machines all thrive in the same small part of Italy. And to give you an idea just how long the list is, my friends and I used to play a game to name Italian motorcycle manufacturers, the more obscure the better — "name one that starts with B — Benelli, Bianchi, Bimota." This game could go for hours and many, many beers. The moderator of all this was my friend Jim Dillard, an actual rocket scientist and the guy everyone called if they were restoring anything old, weird and Italian. He owned something like 600 small Italian vintage machines, and unfortunately for the rest of us, could tell if we were making up names out of thin air.

But even with all those motorcycle factories popping up and disappearing like whack-a-moles, a handful were truly special. Some companies like Ducati and MV Agusta managed to stay in production over the years, while others like Mondial and Moto Parilla did not. If you are a hardcore vintage Italian motorcycle enthusiast, you probably already know how rare, special and respected the Parilla marque was. But even the most knowledgeable Parilla fans have rarely had the opportunity to see, much less own, a Parilla 175 MSDS F3. This is a motorcycle that appeals to a sophisticated palate. That's why Italian vintage motorcycle collector Alberto Sisso was intrigued when the opportunity to buy one arose.

The history of this Parilla was hard to trace because its story was interrupted at some point. Its frame was stripped and stored away for years, until its path miraculously intersected with a person armed with the specific skills to bring it to life again. Alberto was quite aware that this Parilla was as close as he might ever get to owning any version of this hand-built racer, so he jumped at the chance, made the deal and eagerly waited for it to arrive from Italy. All that was left to do was call other collectors to share his good fortune, and have every one of them respond in the same way: "Are you kidding? He SOLD that?"

A little history

If this machine looks vaguely familiar to you it might be because its inspiration was the well-known and beloved Norton Manx, a motorcycle that to this day draws sighs in race paddocks around the world. How that came about is a pretty good story that, like many amusing tales from that day, began with a dare.

Surprisingly, with a name like Giovanni Parrilla, Giovanni wasn't Italian. Born and raised in Spain, Giovanni found himself in Milan, Italy, as a young man after leaving the military. There, he took a job as a diesel injection pump mechanic. Crazy about motorcycle racing, his work lunches were spent bench racing with his fellow workers. One day after a particularly bad race finish for the Italian factories, Giovanni, to the amusement of his friends, declared he could build a better entry than the current offerings. Bets were taken, and incredibly, he began his quest.

6/18/2018 11:18:56 AM

I'm also a big fan of those small displacements Italian machines. My first bike was a Gilera 124 I bought new in '67, still have that bike and added a '53 Mondial 200 Sport, 250 and 350 Ducatis, a Gilera 300B and others, but the Parilla is on my bucket list.

6/18/2018 11:17:58 AM

I'm also a big fan of those small displacements Italian machines. My first bike was a Gilera 124 I bought new in '67, still have that bike and added a '53 Mondial 200 Sport, 250 and 350 Ducatis, a Gilera 300B and others, but the Parilla is on my bucket list.

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