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Three Wheelin: 1964 Casalini David Motofurgoni

In 1939, Casalini S.R.I. was founded in Piacenza, Italy, making pasta machines. Little is known of its early history, but by the 1950s, it was making parts for scooters and mopeds. In 1954, Casalini introduced its first scooter with enclosed bodywork, called the David. The bodywork – which may have been made by a contractor rather than Casalini itself – hinged in one piece from the front forks to reveal the engine. Meanwhile, Casalini parts appeared in Dunkley motorscooters from Britain and in Typhoon Bromscooters from Holland. The company graduated to commercial utility vehicles, perfect for hauling light loads around narrow Italian streets. After eighty-four years, Casalini exists today, now making mini-cars, still suitable for the alleyways of Europe. From the company’s early days comes this 1964 David Motofurgoni three-wheeled charmer, here at Gooding & Company, to be sold on March 2 at the Amelia Island auction. The estimate is $25,000 to $35,000 with no reserve, and if you think that’s steep, be advised it comes with a full suite of child’s pedal cars. Thanks to Jonny for this unusual tip!

Casalini used a variety of two-stroke motors in its early days, from makers such as Demm, Garelli, and Rex. This little Motofurgoni has a 49 cc two-stroke single-cylinder Minarelli engine situated under the seat, accompanied by a Dell’Orto carburetor and a three-speed manual gearbox. The Minarelli is a high-revving machine producing about 1.5 hp; this motor and its derivatives have powered hundreds of thousands of scooters over the decades. Today, Minarelli is owned by Fantic Motor, an Italian motorbike maker. Gooding notes that this scooter has been in storage for some time and requires recommissioning.

The interior is as simple as it can be, with a single seat (lifts up to reveal the engine) and a set of handlebars controlling steering, brakes, and gearshift. A floor pedal controls gas delivery, and the kickstart is outside the cabin on the left side. One headlight, tiny rear reflectors, three drum brakes, and a manual windshield wiper comprise the entirety of its safety equipment. The original “David” scooter was capable of about 40 kph; with this one’s heavier bodywork, not to mention the driver, I’m guessing its top speed is similar. The stickers you see are from Rosca, an Italian pedal car maker active at least through the 1960s. At least one of the cars in the cargo is a Rosca – a bonus since rare old pedal cars can sell for a couple of thousand dollars each.

The proportions are so tidy – it could only be Italian. The neat, round cargo hold, the elongated openings to the cabin, the shape of the windshield, the fabric cover with its plastic window…. the entire package is elegant, despite its original utilitarian purpose. Speaking of purpose, I can’t imagine wheeling around in this even in my rural neighborhood. Does anyone have a place to use this little guy?


  1. Howard A ( since 2014) Member

    Got to love the Italians, everything ends in “I”. Anyone else hear that Jackie Chan busy Hong Kong street music? Dodging rickshaws and such. 1.5 hp,( whistles), let’s put that in perspective. I read, a healthy human can put out 1.3 hp. so this is a step up from a rickshaw, or those bike taxis. For the back alleys of Europe,it’s the hot setup. I-70, not so much. This is pretty much the Italian Cushman( or visa versa) and a local guy had a Cushman like this. I was awfully tempted. Neat find, for the right application. And from what I can see, no air filter. Where have all the air filters gone?

    Like 8
    • Maggy

      ..or O.

      Like 5
      • TomCat440

        … or A ;-)

        Like 5
  2. Stan

    Love it. Sensible transportation doesn’t require a 2500 – 4000 lb vehicle

    Like 4
  3. Kenneth Carney

    You could use it for Door Dash or some other small items from your local auto parts store. I’m sure a lot of pizza guys used these little putt
    putts to deliver a lot of pies. I’d love
    to own an EV version of one of these.

    Like 3
    • Big C

      Pedals would probably up the performance. Any way you look at it. Your pizza pie would be stone cold, unless you lived across the street from the shop.

      Like 5
  4. Howie

    Estimate $25k to $35k, get those strong drinks ready!!

    Like 4
  5. Chris Cornetto

    Kinda similar to the Vespa ape. Three wheeled with handlebars inside a somewhat round cab. Neat.

    Like 4
  6. matt

    I agree Chris, that’s the first thing I thought…

    Like 2
  7. TheOldRanger

    Didn’t Wimpy (Popeye cartoons) own something like this??

    Like 3
  8. PairsNPaint

    You could hang this off the back of that Cadillac like a dinghy!

    Like 0
  9. Bill Potts

    was a letter carrier for the USPS, and while I wasn’t working when these were around, it reminds me of the Westcoaster Mailster. They were used in the 1950s and ’60s. They could haul 500 pounds of mail. At their peak use in 1966, there were about 17,700 of them. they were aka ” mail scooters”.They were useless in three inches of snow and had frequent breakdowns ranging from clutch failures to broken front axles. Turning a corner too quickly resulted in tipping over. Not well-liked, I started out with jeeps and retired out using the LLV vehicles. Older carriers I talked to hated them. I wouldn’t want one or this vehicle if you could call it that.

    Like 0

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