The story of Rene Pregasso
Australia’s first Ducati representative
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