FAQ's - Your frequently asked questions

The questions……

Its a long while since I bought my first Moto Parilla. For several years after that I never saw another for sale in the UK or advertised on the net. To buy a Parilla you had to know the owner.

In the last 12 months I’ve seen more Moto Parillas, particularly high cams, for sale by auction in events run by top-end auction houses in prestigious venues all over the world. Alongside this certain dealers who keep an eye on a rising market are now keen to get in on the act and turn a profit.

As a “niche” marque in respect of the volume of bikes sold, the number of active enthusiasts & lack of knowledgeable dealers or marque specialists the prospective purchaser has few people to turn to in researching any prospective purchase. For better or worse they Google “Moto Parilla”, find this site & mail me.

Above are the questions I get asked all the time & below are my answers to them. The Moto Parilla FAQ section if you like.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be expert in any respect of Moto Parilla motorcycles, their history, their mechanics, their market value or even how much air to put in the tyres. I own several. I’ve made lots of mistakes with them. I’ve learned from those mistakes. Any opinions expressed are my personal ones. I have no connection with any auction house, dealer or have any commercial interest in giving this advice – I ‘m just getting tired of writing the same thing in emails over & over. Caveat Emptor still holds good.

That said it’s on with the FAQ…..

Q: What’s it worth?

This holds true for buying or selling prices. All figures quoted are as of January 2012 and are illustrative only.
Unlike a Vincent Rapide very few Moto Parilla models have yet been through auction houses or on the open market. When 20 standard Rapides go though auctions worldwide at an average of say $50-60K in a 12 month period we can say the median price for a Rap is $55k. Lowest price might have been $30k for a basket case, highest $90k for a one-owner, unrestored “time warp” bike with provenance, service bills, old tax discs and a note from Phil Vincent saying he’d personally ridden it.
A graded scale has been achieved through sales over a long period. Very occasionally a bike will hit a very low price in auction as its been entered into a small town furniture sale or house clearance. The lucky chap who stumbles on the auction & pays $20k is on to a winner. He knows the established median is $55k and his luck won’t alter that figure.
On the other hand auction fever can take over at a prestige event & two well-heeled “investors in motorcycles” will duke it out for the bike they both see as “theirs” – money no object. Say that one goes for $110k. A blip on the screen, registered but not that significant until , & if , the auction market starts to move toward that figure.
You see a Rapide in a dealers window at $60k & can be happy that the price reflects the current market – all you need to do is assess its authenticity, originality & condition & go in there with an offer.

So the Moto Parilla in question – is it a standard model in the “basket case” end or is it a mint original never-restored gem? How does it stack up against similar Moto Parillas sold in the last 12 months? Where does it lie on the graph of lowest to highest market value? How much is it worth?    I don’t know…..

The graded scale of values has yet to establish itself. I haven’t seen 10 MSDS 175s go through auction or private sale. I’ve seen a mint original go for about $16k. I’ve seen a MSDS dressed- up Turismo go for about the same. Chalk & cheese. One honest bike at a realistic price, one case of auction fever.

A restored Turismo 175 sold at auction for £5k appears in a dealers a week or two later at £8k. A nice original 175 LV at auction guide price £6-8k fails to sell, bidding reported to have stopped at £4k. Quite a range of values there & as yet we only have speculative money from the dealer & “best guess” figures from the auction house….no enthusiast has handed over hard cash in an open market sale. Maybe the £4k bid at auction reflects what a “normal” guy is prepared to pay? Or does the dealer know more & £8k is the right price?

At present: It’s worth what you want to pay for it or what you can get for it if selling.

Q: Is it a good buy?

Taking into account what I have said above – the scale of values are not yet established for most Moto Parilla models – the only advice I can offer is as follows.

If the machine is 95-100% original, matching numbers, in good working order with documentation, either fully and accurately restored or better still in its original finish which has been preserved over the years, then this is a “Premium Machine” which in my opinion stands the best chance of retaining its value in years to come.

If the machine is mostly original, matching numbers, in good working order with documentation, some restoration or repairs completed, reasonable finish or sympathetically restored then this is a worthwhile machine to own, bring back to standard over a period of time and to possibly the above Premium standard. Let’s call it a “First Class Machine”. As long as you don’t pay a Premium price it should be a worthwhile buy.

If the machine is a mixture of parts – engine from one model, frame from another, late forks on an early frame, maybe “cafe racer” converted, a good runner and rides well its still a good bike if the work has been well done. A bike to use & enjoy but don’t pay Premium or First Class prices for it. It will be hard to get your money back if you come to sell. Let’s call that a “Modified Machine”. Be aware that often these bikes are not mechanically restored even though the finish & paint is good – they are often bikes from a collection of display pieces.

If the machine is offered in stripped down condition, purporting to be “a racer” with none of the hard-to-get OE parts on it such as mudguards, tool boxes, clipons, rearsets etc then treat it with suspicion. Often to be found at auction to distance the seller from the buyer. Sometimes a genuine GS / MSDS from the engine /frame numbers but missing all the signature components. More often a lesser model stripped down to its bare bones & instantly converted into an “Auction Racer” by the addition of a $50 race seat, a pair of universal clipons & a sawn off silencer. Many times only the frame, swingarm & engine are Moto Parilla components. Of all machines, I’d avoid this type unless you have the spares cache to rebuild them to a decent standard and get them for a price which reflects their incomplete condition.

Amongst all the pseudo racers you will now & then find a genuine ex track bike. Used & abused, nowhere near standard, with many mods over the years it was raced to make it more competitive. Sometimes first spotted by the old race tyres fitted – Avon “triangulars” or “GP, Dunlop KR or the US equivalent Very few trusted Pirelli block treads on the track!. Very rare, usually with some history attached & as with all genuine old race bikes well worth keeping just as they are battle scars & all. Worth having.

Then there are the project bikes. Part completed restorations, basket cases, barn finds & all sorts of bikes which should probably be classified as “for spares only” were Moto Parillas not so rare a find. I’m guilty of resurrecting probably the worst abused MSDS on earth & would now be daunted by the prospect given I have since realised just how rare spares are and how hard it is to find them. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it again. When did common sense ever play a part in our hobby?

Q: Is it genuine?

Do your homework. Look at the bike up close, don’t go off pictures especially digital which make tired old Moto Parilla dogs look like sprightly young pups.

For anyone seriously looking at spending thousands of pounds / dollars on a bike then £60/$90 spent on the Moto Parilla marque history is money well spent. See the literature section of the website. I have seen new copies on Ebay recently.

Every model ever made is in there, all the series numbers for engines & frames, which frame is appropriate to which year / model (all highcam engines having exactly the same dimensions) and good pix of them all.

Also, Milts MotoParilla North America site has loads of pictures, model descriptions & finishes. This site has a little on OE kit for MSDS production racers.

You don’t need to buy blind.

Q: How hard is it to get xxxx?

A brief list of Hi-cam parts I am often asked for or are often missing from bikes even those sometimes said to be complete!

Mudguards front & rear for 175 / 250 road models / MSDS
Genuine ones are rarely seen. They are narrow with a very distinctive section. Hard to replicate convincingly especially the front with its “twin hole” stays. 250 Wildcat guards likewise.

Front forks
As above, very hard to find.
Early “forked end” type. Unique to Moto Parilla. Very difficult to refurbish due to their construction. The first “upside down” fork with the sliders having integral fixed stanchions which run in bushes in the tubular top sections.
Bottom yokes of the later telescopic forks are common to other marques of the period but often have different stems. Top yokes, stanchions & sliders unique to Moto Parilla. Likewise, seal holders, fork shrouds & headlamp ears.
Wildcat 250 forks are very rare. Also used on some Aermacchi offroaders.

Front & rear hubs
The “two by two” spoked hubs are rare. The early 192mm ones with fixed spindles even more so. 180mm front & rear hubs with “two by two” spacing are hard to find. Later bikes were fitted with equally spaced spokes. The rear hubs are a particular problem due to the chain line of the Hi-cam engine being so close to the centreline of the engine.
250 Wildcats used hubs unique to them with square machined ribs between the spoke flanges. Very hard to find especially a rear without cracked internal support ribs (of which there are only 3).

Petrol tanks
All rare but the most difficult to find are:
Any MSDS / GS tank. 250 Wildcat tanks without major dents.
The tanks were often made by a Milan firm Tebaldi.
Some tank shapes were used for other models & manufacturers with different bracketry, tap positions & caps.
Beware! I have seen very convincing Moto Parilla logoed tanks which are not genuine.

Sometimes seen. The basic shape of many of the “coiled spring” seats comes from a common steel framework with different bracketry for each marque. Be sure the seat you find has the correct Moto Parilla brackets.
The pressed steel based MSDS / GS / 250 Wildcat seats are extremely rare. The leather covers rotted, the foams dissolved into a gloopy mess & the bases cracked. Copies have been made in Italy by Libanori which are excellent but lack the exact form of the original.

Very rare to get a pair of the steel type or a complete alloy type with both covers present. Unique to Moto Parilla.

Again a unique section to Moto Parilla. Some of the other lightweight models used the same section with different brackets.

Exhaust systems
The early one piece “muted mega” system and later two piece with short “cigar” silencer are available as patterns from Italy. As yet no one is making the MSDS “long cigar” or the 250 Wildcat system.

Suspension units
A large variety of units used. From air assisted Sturcher units on early MSDSs to very strange “upside down” ones on later MSDSs. Both these types are extremely hard to find. The 250 Wildcat also uses a unique rebuildable unit.

Tail lights
The D shape CEV type was used in very similar form on a variety of makes of bike & scooter. Hard to find an undamaged original but quite good patterns are available in Italy.
The “4 bulb” Catalux unit is most sought after & hard to find in good condition with lens, white plastic insulator & metal base intact. No patterns made yet as far as I know.

Headlight bowls
The 130mm CEV unit is a common fitting on a variety of Italian lightweights…but none are the same as the Moto Parilla version! Some come close but the switch type, positioning of idiot lights & speedo are the giveaway.

Moto Parilla logo’d clip ons
Virtually impossible along with the unique air & advance levers.

Q: What if it needs an engine rebuild?

Several of the key engine components are not easily available. These include:

Replacement rods, crankpins & bearings rely on stocks of NOS when available. 175 rod kits can be found but as far as I know 250 rod kits are no longer in existence as NOS.
Pistons in appropriate oversizes for both 175 & 250 rely on finding NOS stock.
Wearing kickstart mechanism parts & gear change components rely on finding NOS parts.
Valves, guides & springs as above for 175 & 250.
Gasket sets are still made in Italy for the 175 by Athena or Centauro. The 250 shares all the main 175 gaskets with the exception of the head & barrel base gasket – these are not available from either manufacturer.
Clutch plates are, in theory, available new from Surflex in Italy.
Gearbox sprockets are not available new, NOS only. Due to the internal taper & keyway fixing they are an expensive item to replicate. The worn hubs can be retoothed by a specialist. Rear sprockets can be made by several specialists – Talon, B&C Express in the UK.
Points are becoming increasingly rare as NOS. Likewise generator rotors & brushes. The 6v CVC units are common to several manufacturers and Bosch units are still available NOS at a price. See electrical section for a 100% effective replacement system.

Q.Why would the Auction House say its a race bike if its not?

Best answered by reference to extracts from the “conditions of sale” and “notice to bidders” posted on the site of one of the most respected auction houses dealing in classic bikes:
Offered to the auction entrant: “A professionally written catalogue description of your motorcycle based on information supplied by you…..you must ensure that what you tell us about the lot is correct and complete….”
So now you’ve read the description provided by the vendor which has been professionally reproduced by the auction house in their catalogue. On to the auction advice to the bidder:
“Lots are available for inspection prior to the sale and it is for you to satisfy yourself as to each and every aspect of a lot, including its authorship, attribution, condition, provenance, history, background, authenticity, age, suitability, quality, roadworthiness, origin and value”.
So the description given may not be entirely accurate & its up to you, the bidder, to establish if the bike is what they say it is in the catalogue. NOT the auction house.
“Neither we, nor the seller, are liable whether in negligence or otherwise, for any error in description or omission in a description of a lot contained in the catalogue or otherwise, whether given orally or in writing and whether given before or during the sale”
Draw your own conclusions….Caveat Emptor.
Advice given to me once by a seasoned wheeler dealer “Paper doesn’t refuse ink”.

Q: How come you think you know it all?

Actually, I don’t…..

I neither claim to know “all about Parillas” nor be an expert in any particular area of their ownership, restoration, history or value. I do own a few, have restored a few, hope to restore more, have ridden them in competitions, parades, track days & on the road in the UK & Europe & have seen a lot of junk presented as “authentic” & “original” along the way.
I’ve also seen some fine restorations which were authentic & original. The former usually offered by unscrupulous dealers, get-rich-quick scammers & over ambitious auction houses. The latter usually by enthusiasts in private sales or at the odd prestige auction.

Q: Why would I believe you when the vendor says xxxxxxx?

Mainly as I’m not trying to separate you from your hard-earned cash or discourage you only to snatch a bargain from under your nose.
You are the buyer – believe what you think is the best advice. I offer an opinion, nothing more, to those who contact me.

Q: Why do the auction houses put such high valuations on the bikes if they are not worth that figure?

It is not a valuation – it is a range they think the final bid will lie in.
There are a number of ploys used by the auction houses to promote the sale of a particular bike; to encourage owners of similar machines to offer them for auction and pump up the reputation of the auction house as being “the place to get the best price for your machine”. Note there is rarely a claim to be “the best place to buy a bike with confidence & a guarantee of its authenticity”…but then they are there at the vendor’s request not the buyers.
Whatever the ploy – low starting estimates to encourage bidders, high estimates to pump up a rising market further, no reserve on something they know will be hotly contested – it all boils down to the fact that whatever it sells for they will be collecting the fat side of 30% of the price the high bidder pays. They can’t lose.

Q: Would you buy it?

No, you are going after it. Not me.

Q: Should I buy it?

Entirely your decision!

Q: One like that sold for $20k at auction last year at xxxxxx.

Quite possible. It’s an auction not a valuation session. Two bidders with fat wallets wanting the same thing does not set the value of the next similar model to come to the market. If it happens every time that model comes to market then we are starting to see a pattern & a value can be set which will probably be confirmed at the next auction. One-off high auction figures do not set future values.

Q: If I buy it now it’ll be worth £xxxx more in another year?

No guarantee. If you buy carefully ensuring what you are getting is authentic, original & well restored or in excellent original condition you stand a chance.

Q :Why do you say this old nail is worth more than this lovely shiny race bike?

Most probably the “race bike” is actually an incomplete or cobbled up “auction racer” as described above & the “old nail” is a 100% original model deserving a careful restoration.

Q: This bike is described as fully restored, what should I look out for?

Do your homework. Find out what that model should look like, what it has fitted, the range of frame numbers appropriate to the model, any “signature” components for that model; optional equipment. The MotoParilla marque history (see Literature section) reveals all this & more.
The engine must have been fully overhauled, starting well, running smoothly & quietly. No excess smoke (Parillas do seem to burn a little oil even when in A1 condition), no slipping clutch, battery charging & all electrics working. These engines are expensive to rebuild, hard to find parts for & demand the skills of a mechanic sympathetic to them to get them running properly.

That’s most of the questions I’ve had in the last 12 months via the website – hope the answers answer your query too. If not contact me via the contact page.


Q: How hard is it to get xxxx?

A brief list of Hi-cam parts I am often asked for or are often missing from bikes even those sometimes said to be complete!

Petrol tanks
All rare but the most difficult to find are:
Any MSDS / GS tank. 250 Wildcat tanks without major dents.
The tanks were often made by a Milan firm Tebaldi.
Some tank shapes were used for other models & manufacturers with different bracketry, tap positions & caps.
Beware! I have seen very convincing Moto Parilla logoed tanks which are not genuine.