Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAR-APR 2019

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While the flashier fronds on the family tree of Italian automobile manufacturers often garner the lion's share of attention, brands with deeper roots—Fiat, Maserati and Alfa Romeo—have been turning heads and amassing accolades for more than a century. e first Italian car, essentially a petrol-powered tricycle, was built in 1884. A little more than a decade later, Fiat was founded and produced its first model, a FIAT 4HP, which had a a top speed of 22 mph. Alfa Romeo wasn't far behind, tracing its roots to the Società Anonima Italiana Darracq, established in 1906 by Frenchman Alexandre Darrracq with backing from Italian investors. ree years later, after a slow start to sales and economic hardships, managing director and Italian aristocrat Ugo Stella acquired the company and relaunched the plant under a new name: Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (ALFA). Designed by Giuseppe Merosi, the 1910 24 HP was the first car to come off of the production line at Portello in Milan under the Alfa name; the 4.1-liter engine could reach speeds up to 62 mph. In 1911 ALFA made its foray into motor racing, beginning a long and storied run as a constructor and engine supplier in Grand Prix motor racing, Formula One, sportscar racing, touring car racing and rallies. Enzo Ferrari drove Alfas in the 1920s before striking out on his own. ALFA faced financial challenges during WWI and was acquired by Nicola Romeo, a successful electrical engineer from Naples, Italy. While automotive production ceased during the war, the company continued to prosper by making airplane engines and portable compressors. Investors took the company public in 1918 under the new official name of Alfa Romeo, and resumed building and designing automobiles at the end of WWI. The marque's four-leaf clover "Quadrifoglio" logo first appeared in 1923 on an RL Targa Florio. It was painted on the front by legendary driver Ugo Sivocci, who was looking to break a string of runner-up finishes. While he went on to win the Targo Florio race in Sicily, Sivocci later perished in a crash while testing a new race car that did not bear his lucky clover. From that point on, all Alfa Romeo race cars featured the four-leaf clover on a white triangle, with a missing corner symbolizing the loss of Sivocci. LA MECCANICA DELLE EMOZIONI Alfa Romeo packages pulchritude and performance using Italian panache. Written by Andre James / Photos courtesy of FCA 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider 56

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