The "Cucciolo" project

The Cucciolo engine

Aldo Farinelli, co-designer of the Cucciolo

Gianluigi Mengoli with Farinelli's widow

Aldo Leoni, second co-designer of the Cucciolo

The first Cucciolo manufactured by SIATA, in Turin, in 1945

View of the SIATA Cucciolo engine from the pedal side


Two great skills came together to create one little motor.
Accompanied by technical craftsmanship, seriousness and an innovative spirit.
These are the qualities that describe the people responsible for the birth of the
Ducati motorcycling industry.
Ducati thanks Aldo Farinelli and Aldo Leoni

Gianluigi Mengoli, Director of Ducati Research & Development.

The text above is the dedication written on the "Ducati Year Book 2001" that Gianluigi Mengoli brought to Aldo Farinelli's widow and Aldo Leoni when they met in April 2002 to commemorate Farinelli and Leoni for their part of Ducati's history. The story told here is based on face to face interviews with Aldo Farinelli's second wife and Aldo Leoni himself in 2002.

The 1940s were years of great industrial development that led to the worldwide success of Ducati and this story begins right after the armistice on September 8, 1943.

Giorgio Ambrosini, owner of S.I.A.T.A., and his attorney, Farinelli, hired Aldo Leoni to design a two stroke engine. The engine was supposed to be similar to those designed by the French technician, Giuseppe Remondini. Remondini had contacted S.I.A.T.A., hoping that the company would produce his engine, but Farinellli had other ideas in mind: he wanted S.I.A.T.A. to design and produce its own engine to be attached to any simple bicycle. Since WWII was still being fought, the work began in secret and against government orders.

The first result was a two stroke 50 cc engine that was attached directly to the bicycle wheel. Because of the war, S.I.A.T.A. couldn't start production immediately and since Aldo Leoni had a bit of time to spare, he continued his research. He ended up designing a four stroke engine with two gears and a chain

on the rear wheel of the bicycle: the Cucciolo.
Work on the motor proceeded very rapidly, but the real problem was making a magneto flywheel for the Cucciolo. Because no such flywheel existed, Leoni had to design one with a coil divided into two parts connected in series, in order to keep its axial dimensions within the available space.
Leoni didn't give up. He kept working until his engine was exactly the way he wanted.

Having collected enough information and parts to create the first prototype engine, the work began to put things together. By the end of 1944 it was ready and Farinelli took a trial ride on the first Cucciolo through the streets of Turin. Other street tests were done by Farineli's son and brother, Ezio Furio and Aldo Leoni.