The engine at the heart of everything
Francesco Cassani had one great passion — engines. This passion was born in Paolo Cassani’s workshop, where in the early 20s, alongside their father, Francesco and his brother Eugenio learned to experiment, and to turn their inventor dreams into reality. This passion was already taking shape at age 16, with his strange car powered by an aircraft engine, in which he would zip around Treviglio to visit his girlfriend, before turning his attention to agricultural machinery and tractors, dedicating himself to making farm work more pleasant and productive.
In 1927, aged 21, Francesco Cassani and his brother Eugenio built the one of the worldsfirst agricultural tractor powered by a diesel engine, which proved to be much more functional and cost-effective than traditional petrol models. Later, in 1931, this tractor was awarded first prize in the Italian Ministry of Agriculture’s “Italian agricultural tractor” competition, pipping established companies to the post with the Cassani 40 hp.
At this point, the Cassani brothers had another dream to realise: the creation of a “world-leading factory in the manufacture of tractors and engines.” But the global economic crisis of 1929 put the brakes on these promising agricultural mechanization projects, which had been entrusted to a workshop in Bologna. So the two brothers, not yet in their thirties, went back to Treviglio with a plan to build a new diesel engine for trucks, and of devote themselves to the production of innovative fuel injection pumps, an area of precision engineering with regard to which Italy is still entirely dependent on foreign markets.
In the 30s, whilst waiting for the right time to launch a real company, Francesco Cassani also designs a new marine engine, offering much higher power than the standards of the time – a six-cylinder with opposing pistons that can reach up to 85 horsepower at 1,800 rpm, mounted on Este I in September 1934, the boat which went on to win the Venice-Trieste race raid due to the superb fuel economy of the engine. In 1936 he founds SPICA (Società Pompe a Iniezione Cassani) for the design and construction of injection pumps for diesel engines.
The drive to invent also leads him to design a revolutionary aircraft engine for Italy, which was presented to the Italian Air Force in 1937: an apparatus which, due to the particular arrangement of its circular cylinders (reminiscent of the barrel of a gun), became known as a “revolver” engine. In 1939, Francesco Cassani was awarded the National Research Council Prize for the construction of superior-performance injection pumps for diesel engines.
Finally, his dream of founding a tractor manufacturing company was realised in 1942, with the creation of SAME, whose very name communicates the passion of the Cassani brothers: Società Accomandita Motori Endotermici. From the Second World War to the present day, the dedication of Francesco Cassani, and the history of SAME and then later, the Group, continue in the hunt for innovation, resulting in the ultra-high tech agricultural machines of today and the new line of FARMotion engines, designed and developed specifically for use in agriculture. The engine remains at the heart of it all.