Gilera Nettuno Sport 250 cc (1946)

Gilera is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer founded in Arcore in 1909 by Giuseppe Gilera (1887–1971). In 1969, the company was purchased by Piaggio.

In 1935, Gilera acquired rights to the Rondine four-cylinder engine. It was, at that time, the world’s most powerful engine with 45 kW (60 hp). The first across-the-frame 4-cylinder motorcycle was the racer 1939 Gilera 500 Rondine. It had double-over-head camshafts, forced-inducting supercharger and was water-cooled, producing 60 kW (80 hp) @9000 and had a top speed of 140 mph (230 km/h).

This formed the basis for Gilera’ s racing machines for nearly forty years. From the mid-thirties, Gilera developed a range of four-stroke engine machines. The engines ranged from 100 to 500 cc, the most famous being the 1939 Saturno. Designed by Giuseppe Salmaggi, the Saturno was inspired by the pre-war Gilera VTEGS 500 cc “Otto Bulloni” yet was quite different due to its unit construction.

After withdrawing from competition in 1957, Gilera changed direction abruptly. They downplayed their hitherto successful line of four-stroke singles and began to focus on motocross and off-road events in association with independent specialist Elmeca. Sales declined through the 1960s and by 1968 the company was in receivership.

In 1969, Gilera became part of the Piaggio group. In 1992, Gilera made a return to the Grand Prix arena and Piaggio continues to produce small-displacement motorcycles with the Gilera name. The famous factory of Arcore was closed in 1993 and now the motorcycles (only scooters) bearing the name Gilera are produced by Piaggio in Pontedera.

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