The story of Rene Pre­gasso

Aus­tralia’s first Du­cati rep­re­sen­ta­tive

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT - As told by his nephew, Com­piled by

It seems to be more reg­u­lar now than ever be­fore that I end up meet­ing, usu­ally by chance, some very in­ter­est­ing peo­ple, and Fred just so hap­pens to be one of them.

I had left my bike’s reg­is­tra­tion re­newal to the last minute, and as usual I needed a pink slip pronto be­fore full ex­piry ar­rived. I jumped on my bike, a very spe­cial bike, a Paul Smart Sports Clas­sic which had been left to me by my fallen mate, “Michael”. AKA “Alby”, a long time school­mate and Du­cati nut­ter like me.

Af­ter my ar­rival to the me­chan­ics sta­tion I waited pa­tiently for my turn to be served as there seemed to be some sort of prob­lem for the cus­tomer be­fore me who was also get­ting his last minute rego sorted be­fore the Xmas break. I could see him eye­ing off the bike whilst wait­ing, as one would, go­ing over it thor­oughly. He was an old look­ing bloke and seemed re­ally in­ter­ested in what he was look­ing at. His car was an old Ford Fal­con sta­tion wagon full of car­pen­try tools and it was quite ob­vi­ous to me he was in the same game as my­self, chippy, come-builder. I was get­ting a lit­tle anx­ious as time was get­ting on and I needed to make the reg­istry be­fore it shut, but it seemed noth­ing was go­ing to hap­pen quickly. So as I do, I started some light con­ver­sa­tion re­gard­ing the build­ing in­dus­try, the usual type of stuff, “been busy”? “What are you work­ing on at the mo­ment”, that sought of thing. Af­ter about 5 min­utes of talk­ing, he says to me, “My un­cle worked for Du­cati”. I am taken aback here by what I had just heard and I can feel my­self get­ting a lit­tle ex­cited. So now I’m think­ing, “Worked for Du­cati” I asked him? So what is di­vulged next is what I be­lieve to be history and pos­si­bly the un­told story of, “Rene Pre­gasso”. And so it went! The story starts off with Fred telling me that when he was young boy, he had an un­cle that worked for Du­cati. He was one of their tech­ni­cians work­ing for the fac­tory dur­ing their cam­era and ra­dio man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­gram. He is then later in time ap­pointed by the fac­tory to come to Aus­tralia and look for busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for Du­cati. This is just be­fore the Sec­ond World War and Rene ap­par­ently ar­rives very green and able to speak lit­tle English, so this makes it all the harder for him to start cre­at­ing and mak­ing busi­ness deals. For­tu­nately he meets a woman who helps him find his way whilst set­tling into his new sur­round­ings. This is Fred’s aunty, his mum’s sis­ter. It didn’t take long be­fore Fred’s fam­ily took Rene in with open arms and made him feel at home whilst spend­ing time with them in Syd­ney.

For­tu­nately for Rene it just so hap­pen that Fred’s dad was a busi­ness­man of sorts, selling whole­sale. The type of mer­chan­dise that Fred’s dad sold was not men­tioned but he must have been do­ing pretty well as he ac­com­mo­dated two floors of an of­fice build­ing in Ge­orge St. and the home ad­dress was some­where in Hun­ters Hill, that is of course if the sub­urb was as well-to-do then as it is now. So with his sam­ples of ra­dio tran­sis­tors and small cam­eras Rene was in­tro­duced to buy­ers through Fred’s dad and that was the start for Du­cati in Aus­tralia. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Rene and Fred’s aunty grew stronger and if my mem­ory is right I be­lieve it didn’t take too long be­fore Rene pro­posed and they were mar­ried. They then went back to Italy where Fred’s aunty was to meet the other side of the fam­ily. So I’m go­ing to take a wild guess here and as­sume that she could of also been the first Aus­tralian to tour the fac­tory? Un­for­tu­nately for Rene and his new Aus­tralian wife mak­ing the re­turn trip to the home land could not of been at a worse time. The Sec­ond World War had started and Mus­solini had jumped into bed with Adolf and in do­ing so Du­cati was brought into the war ef­fort, do­ing what it was told by the regime. As for Rene and Fred’s aunty they ended up some­where on the Mediter­ranean coast line where Rene is sent to work on the Ital­ian and Nazi’s naval fleet ships com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems. Here he finds him­self do­ing in­stil­la­tions and re­pairs whilst they dock in the har­bour. Both Rene and Fred’s aunty sur­vive the war and as time goes on things start get­ting back to nor­mal and it is not long be­fore it is busi­ness as usual for Du­cati. Rene and his beloved wife de­cide to re­turn to Aus­tralia and with them comes crates full of prod­uct from the fac­tory, which he in­tends to sell. This he hopes will be the start of his busi­ness em­pire in his new coun­try Aus­tralia. On re­unit­ing

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