Ducati Cucciolo

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1950 Ducati Vilar Cucciolo
Manufacturer Ducati
Engine 48 cc single
Top speed 40mph
Dry weight 98lb

The Ducati Cucciolo was a 4-stroke clip-on engine conceived during and shortly after World War II by a Turin lawyer, Aldo Farinelli, and developed with a self-taught engineer, Aldo Leoni.

During the war, Aldo Farinelli began working with the small Turinese firm SIATA (Societa Italiana per Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie) with the idea of developing a small engine that could be mounted on a bicycle. Farinelli’s and Leone’s first prototype was running on the streets of Turin in Autumn of 1944. The yapping sound of the engine's short stubby exhaust inspired the name Cucciolo ("little puppy") for the motor. Weighing a little over 17lb and giving 180mp/gal when installed in a bicycle.

On July 26, barely one month after the official liberation of the country, SIATA announced their intention to sell Cucciolo engines to the public. It was the first new automotive design to appear in postwar Europe. Some businessmen bought the little engines in quantity and installed them in frames, thus offering for sale the first complete units.

Soon demand outstripped the limited production capabilities, so SIATA found a manufacting partner in Borgo Panigale, near Bologna. Ducati was a well-known name in electronics and appliances, and in the post-war torn Italy, it was seeking new opportunities to employ its workers and facilities, so a licensing agreement with SIATA was reached. Production rose from 15 units in 1946 to over 25,000 in the following years, when Ducati reached an exclusive agreement for the production.

In 1952, with 200,000 Cucciolos already sold, Ducati finally offered its own complete moped based on the successful little pull rod engine, the model "48" (produced until 1954) and model "55E" and "55R". The following models were becoming more and more real motorcycles, with pressed-steel frames. The engine capacity grew to 60cc (models "60" and "60 Sport") and finally to 65cc ("65 Sport", "65T", "65TL" and "65TS")

The Cucciolo engine was gradually replaced by the "98" model line which started in 1952 and its production ended when the 65 line was dropped in 1958.

  • Musi, Giuliano (2006). Il Cucciolo, un gigante. Minerva Edizioni. ISBN 88-7381-154-X. (in Italian)
  • Falloon, Ian (2005). Standard Catalog Of Ducati Motorcycles 1946-2005. Krause Publications. ISBN 0873497147