The origins of a passion (1922-1939)

1922 – 1924

Francesco Cassani (1906-1973) attends evening classes at the “Giacomo Feltrinelli” Industrial Institute in Milan. After having built a car prototype together, Francesco and his younger brother Eugenio (1909-1959) begin the design and construction of a diesel engine tractor.


Francesco Cassani designs and builds “the first heavy-oil diesel engine for tractors, under his own patented design. This represented a true novelty in the field of Italian agriculture, and the success it achieved was such that it drew the interest of the ‘Cattedre’, the peripatetic agricultural experts at that time — in particular those of Bergamo and Pavia”. (Extract from one of F. Cassani’s recollections).


Presentation to the press and to industry personnel of the “Cassani” tractor at the Scuola Pratica di Agricoltura “Cantoni” (the Cantoni School of Practical Agriculture) in Treviglio.


The Cassani tractor is presented at the Fiera di Milano trade fair. Francesco Cassani modifies the design, still using a diesel engine, but with the addition of two horizontal cylinders, bringing about an increase in power.


Francesco Cassani signs the first agreement with the company UTITA, in Este, for the construction of high-speed 2-stroke diesel engines with 2 vertical cylinders and opposed pistons, for truck and marine applications.


The speedboat “Este I”, winner of the first prize at the International Motorboat Competition in Venice, is equipped with a Cassani-patented opposed-piston diesel engine. This is the first high-speed engine for light boats built in Italy, according to an Italian-patented design.


Production of the 3-cylinder 90 HP PLA 90 engine begins. Design and testing of the PLA 500 BAF diesel engine for aviation and rail traction applications.


SPICA (Società Pompe a Iniezione Cassani – Cassani Injection Pumps) is born, and is originally based in Treviglio before moving to Livorno. Design and construction of diesel engines injection pumps for trucks and for marine and aircraft engines.


An agreement is signed between the Cassani brothers and OTO (Odera-Terni-Orlando) Shipyards in Genoa (with a workshop in Livorno) for the construction of three engines to be tested and approved by the Regia Aeronautica Italiana (Italian Air Force). Several years of frenetic work begin on the production of aircraft (B8/110) and marine (A4/90) engines.


Francesco Cassani was awarded the National Research Council prize for the construction of SPICA diesel engine injection pumps.