Famed Alfa Romeo cloverleaf hits 90
This year marks 90 years since the "Quadrifoglio Verde" or QV nomenclature was first used on an Alfa Romeo.
Translated as the green four-leaf clover, the stylised symbol for luck celebrates a near century identifying Alfa Romeo's racing racing cars, while the company's higher-performance production machines have proudly displayed the badge since 1960.
The current Giulietta and MiTo QV hatches carry the Quadrifoglio Verde, a symbol recognised on race circuits and streets throughout the world
The origin of the symbol is lost in legend, but it is interesting to note its presence on the flags and heraldry of the aeroplanes of the 10th Caproni Bomber Squadron in World War I. Indeed, the symbol is part of the Italian Air Force's current coat of arms.
The first Alfa Romeo car to be adorned with the Quadrifoglio Verde was Ugo Sivocci's "RL", in which he won the 14th edition of the Targa Florio in Sicily in 1923. Since then, all Alfa Romeo racing cars have been distinguished by the emblem and renowned lucky charm - some more subtly than others. It was the first of the brand's 10 victories in the famous Sicilian event.
Sivocci's win followed a perfect race - 432 kilometres of the Madonie Circuit (four laps of 108km each) at an average of 59.04 kmh. The speed was amazing at the time, especially considering the roughness of the course.
Alfa Romeo's success was so clear that the other drivers of the Alfa Romeo team - including a young Enzo Ferrari, Antonio Ascari and Giulio Ramponi - decided to adopt the lucky Quadrifoglio Verde for all other races as well.
From that moment on, the Quadrifoglio Verde became synonymous with Alfa Romeo.
Though why it would take another 37 years before it was used on special series of production models, to demonstrate the continuity between Alfa's showroom cars and competition machines is unknown.
It was the Quadrifoglio Verde that stood out against the dark red of Brilli Peri's "P2", when he won the first World Car Racing Championship at Monza in 1925. it was the first of the five world titles that Alfa Romeo won.
At the end of the 1920s, it was the Quadrifoglio Verde that distinguished the Alfa Romeos built by the parent company, from the Alfa Romeos with the prancing horse.
In 1950 and 1951, Giuseppe "Nino" Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio drove the Alfa Romeo 158 and 159 - the celebrated "Alfettas" - to victory in the first two Formula 1 World Championships. Then, in the 1960s, the Quadrifoglio Verde was the hallmark of the "ready-to-race" version of the Giulia, called the TI Super. It then sat beside the blue Autodelta triangle for a number of decades, from the GTA to the 33 and up to the two World Championships of the 33 TT 12 (1975) and the 33 SC 12 (1977).
Alfa Romeo's racing activity carried on in the 1980s: After it returned to F1 and the successes in racing for touring cars were repeated, (GTV 6 2.5) up to the resounding victory in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Mesterschaft) with the 155 V6 Ti in 1993 and the long series of wins by the 156 Superturismo (1998-2004).
Production Alfa Romeos have also carried the Quadrifoglio Verde, particularly high-performance models built from the 1960s to the 1980s. Some feature the symbol on the body, without an appearance in the official name, such as the Giulia TI Super, Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, 1750 GT Veloce - which actually featured gold coloured Quadrifoglio badging (Quadrifoglio d'Oro) - and the Alfasud Sprint.
From the 1980s onward, other cars have the Quadrifoglio Verde as part of their official name, such as the Alfasud ti Quadrifoglio Verde, the Sprint Quadrifoglio Verde, the various versions of the 33 Quadrifoglio Verde, the 75 Quadrifoglio Verde, the Spider 2.0 Quadrifoglio Verde, the 164 Quadrifoglio Verde and the 145 Quadrifoglio Verde.
Distinguished by the legendary emblem in the 2013 Alfa Romeo production lineup, the Quadrifoglio Verde versions of the MiTo and Giulietta have assumed a place in the tradition of the best Alfa Romeos, drawing on the heritage of dynamic performance, without compromising on efficiency, respect for the environment and convenience in everyday use.