Alfa Romeo’s lucky four-leaf clover – Quadrifoglio Verde

Alfa Romeo sent us a background piece on their Quadrifoglio badge that appears on the performance versions of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Alfa Romeo Giulia. It’s interesting, has a lot of relevance for where the badge came from and most importantly connects the brand’s sporting heritage to the present, especially at a time when Alfa Romeo themselves are getting back into top end racing with their announcement with the Sauber F1 team. We have edited the piece below only to keep out any obvious marketing messages.

Did you know?

  • The four-leaf clover is a rare variation of the common three-leaf clover
  • It is found in a 1:5000 frequency among clovers
  • Space-X uses it as a lucky charm too
  • It is considered lucky, especially among the Irish

 

Conceived as a good-luck charm in the heroic period of motorsports, the Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) – written with a capital ‘Q’ – has distinguished the sports and industrial history of Alfa Romeo, and has become the logo for race cars and for the more powerful and exclusive road vehicles.

Alfa, which was born on June 24th, 1910 and become Alfa Romeo in 1918, gained acknowledgement among car manufacturers for the quality and performance of its vehicles. And in the races, the first victories and significant positions gained in the pre-war period were soon followed by excellent results that came immediately after the big historical watershed of the First World War. However, the first big international victory was still to come in order for the brand to become the legend it is today. After the ‘racing’ versions of the 24 HP, the 12-15 HP, the powerful 40-60 HP and the 20-30 ES, not even the futuristic Grand Prix 1914 had been able to succeed in this endeavour.

The true turn of events came in 1923 – with the XIV edition of the Targa Florio, Alfa Romeo decided not to leave anything to chance. They prepared a specific “Corsa” (racing) version of the new RL, Giuseppe Merosi’s masterpiece. The “three-litre” was made lighter, shorter, and boosted in power, the logistic aspects were taken care of and the best drivers of the time summoned: Antonio Ascari, Giuseppe Campari, Giulio Masetti, Enzo Ferrari and Ugo Sivocci. The latter two were behind the wheel of a more aggressive version of the car, whose displacement had been boosted to 3154 cc and 95hp.

No matter how intense the effort, how valid the project, how perfect in every detail, how big the sacrifice, in the world of races you also need a bit of luck. With this in mind, added to an ill-concealed superstition, the company decided to paint a lucky charm on the bonnets of its cars: a green four-leaf clover. Victory went to Ugo Sivocci, who was immediately followed by his team mate Ascari (the former displayed the green four-leaf clover on a white diamond-shaped background, the latter on a triangular background), while Masetti’s RL came in fourth. It was a great victory, one that ultimately launched the brand into the Olympus of manufacturers, transforming the Quadrifoglio into an actual logo that distinguished all Alfa Romeo racing vehicles.

The good-luck emblem continued to appear on racing cars – starting from the Alfa Romeo P2 that triumphed in the first Motor Racing World Championship in Monza in 1925, gaining the first of Alfa Romeo’s five World Titles. In the late Twenties, the Quadrifoglio badge was also used to distinguish Alfa Romeo cars on the racetrack from those of the Scuderia Ferrari, which used a prancing horse as their emblem.

In 1950 and 1951, Giuseppe “Nino” Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio drove the Alfa Romeo 158 and 159 cars, the famous Alfettas, to win the first two Formula 1 World Championships. Then, in the Sixties, the Quadrifoglio appeared on the ready-to-race version of the Giulia – the TI Super, before teaming up with the blue triangle of the Autodelta for several decades: from the GTA to the 33, through to the two World Championships won by the 33 TT 12 (1975) and the 33 SC 12 (1977).

Alfa Romeo’s racing career continued in the Eighties, when, after it returned to F1 in 1980, it scored repeated successes in touring car races (GTV 6 2.5), up to the triumph in the DTM with the 155 V6 Ti in 1993 and the long series of victories of the 156 Superturismo (1998-2004).

The Quadrifoglio emblem was placed on high-performing models built from the ’60s to the ’80s. Some had the symbol on their bodywork even though it did not appear in their names – such as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce or the 1750 GT Veloce – while others, from the Eighties onward, included Quadrifoglio in their official names, such as the various versions of the 33 Quadrifoglio Verde or the 164 Quadrifoglio Verde.

Today, the standard-bearers in the new Alfa Romeo generation are the Giulia and Stelvio models, both of which bear the legendary Quadrifoglio badge, which certifies their qualities in terms of class-topping performance, handling and weight/power ratio, specific external and internal features, exclusive powerplants and a genuine Alfa Romeo sound.

The first Quadrifoglio emblems were painted directly onto cars. Later, when the Quadrifoglio became a feature of production vehicles it was changed into a badge. The Quadrifoglio badge is designed and individually handcrafted in Italy, elevating the emblem itself almost to a work of art. 

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