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Origin of the Alfa Romeo Crest


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#1 Ferdia

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 14:09

Does anyone know the origin of the Alfa Romeo crest (logo)?

It certainly is most interesting; both the red cross and the coiled snake would seem to have Templar connotations. The red cross on the white background being a Crusader motif and the coiled snake being (seemingly) representative of the device used in the awakening of the 7 Chakra's in the Hindu tradition (the Alfa Romeo snake even has 7 coils or folds). The Templars were often accused of having a kiss on the posterior (I really did not want to say ass in such a respectable web-site) as part of their initiation rite, supposedly to awaken the seven coiled serpent - having been influenced by Eastern mysticism.

Or, am I completely wrong? Was it perhaps created when a mechanic spilled a liter of differential oil on a disassembled clutch plate in Pescara on 1923 and the crest was the pattern produced? Where is Umberto Eco when you need him? (I know he works close to Maranello.)

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#2 Williams

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 15:46

Source:

Alfa Romeo – Could it be “Alpha”?
A.L.F.A., an all-Italian venture established in 1909, stood for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (Automotive Maker of Lombardy SA). Coincidence or not, the name clearly communicated fist-class, strength and quality through its association with the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In 1918, the name was changed to Alfa Romeo after Nicola Romeo, a Neapolitan industrialist, took over its direction. The new name represented an interesting integration of the old name equity
and the vision of the company’s new owner. The Alfa Romeo logo has its roots in Italian history: it is inspired by the coat of arms of the Visconti Family, a powerful Milanese dynasty, which in turn supported the notion of strength and quality.

More discussion on the Visconti family crest is found here and here.

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The snake with a child in it's mouth is variously described as swallowing the child or giving birth to the child, (it being believed that certain snakes give birth in this manner).

#3 lustigson

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 16:20

Isn't the red cross on a white shield the emblem of Alfa Romeo's city of origin (which city)?

#4 Marlowe

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 19:29

It looks like the red cross of St. George. It must have some religious connotation.

#5 Williams

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 20:07

lustigson, correct, the red cross on a white background is the flag of Milan in Lombardy, A.R.'s area of origin.

#6 Ferdia

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 21:11

Well… …shows you what I know…

Thank you all for your insight, and especially to Williams for great depth. The information available from the links you have included will keep me interested for months! (Well certainly until Melbourne.)

#7 aldo

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 22:05

Living in Milano and driving Alfa Romeo since ever, I can add something more on the subject.
Yes, the badge joins the coat of arms of the city of Milan (the red cross on white background) with the coat of arms of the Visconti family, who ruled Milan from AD 1277 until 1447. The snake has the head of a dragon and actully he(it?) swallows the child: it's a mythologic symbol meaning that the child, after being swallowed, becomes food and then the source of new life.
There are at least five mayor variations, not including the one with the words Alfa Romeo Paris on cars assembled in France in the Twenties.
The first badge (1910-1915) had the Milan cross and the snake in a disc surronded by a blue circle with the words Alfa Milano and two knots which are the symbols of the House of Savoy, i.e. the House of kings of Italy. The blue in the circle is also known as Blue Savoy, as it was the color of the king's Huse.
From 1915 to 1925, the words became Alfa Romeo Milano.
In 1925, after the victory in the first World Automobile Championship, a golden laurel wreath surrounded the badge, lasting until 1946.
When, in 1946, Italy became a republic, the two knots were changed into two wavy lines.
In 1971, the golden laurel wreath disappeared, as well as the two wavy lines.
As it is today, sorry, but it's too late to go down in the garage and have a look at the badge of my 166 V6 turbo.

#8 dmj

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 22:34

Good historical review, Aldo. You only missed the most obvious change - when Alfa Romeo started to assembly Alfasuds in Southern Italy (Portello factory near Naples, early Seventies), Milano script dissapeared for their badge...

#9 dretceterini

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 01:38

There was a company called A.L.F.A. in Italy before 10905, which built just one prototype. Did the Alfa which became Alfa Romeo buy this corporation to get the name? I have no idea how Italian corportae law works...especially back this far...

#10 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 16:59

Welcome to TNF, Aldo.

It becomes a nice place for automobile journalists as well, isn't it?

And the Alfisti group is growing! :cool:

I would add that the Alfa-Romeo name appeared not before 1919 or 1920. It's only after Giuseppe Merosi tried Nicola Romeo to court for settling prewar counts (related to the sale of A.L.F.A and Merosi's position in it). that it was agreed that the new company, then incorporated into "Società in Accomandita Semplice Ing. Nicola Romeo &Co." :eek: would be called Alfa-Romeo. That was in 1919. So there were no badges between 1915 and 1919, except ALFA ones from prewar.

Aside the Alfa-Romeo Paris badges, there were also plain Alfa-Romeo (without Milano) for short time in 1933. 4 or 5 "Savoy knots" replaced the Milano. I don't recall why.

Stu: I don't know about a former A.L.F.A. What was it standing for ?

#11 dretceterini

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 17:55

Patrick:

Some years ago, I read in an obscure, thin book on early Italian car history about a company that was named A.L.F.A. that built just one prototype, circa 1905. I will see if I can find the article...I don't have a copy of the book, but I think Dave Mericle does..

If I remember correctly, A.L.F.A. stood for the same thing as it did at a later date, so I was wondering if the assets of this former comapny were purchased to get the name...

#12 aldo

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 08:37

Originally posted by dmj
Good historical review, Aldo. You only missed the most obvious change - when Alfa Romeo started to assembly Alfasuds in Southern Italy (Portello factory near Naples, early Seventies), Milano script dissapeared for their badge...


100 % correct. When I wrote that message, I didn't have on hand any reference on post-1971 changes. By the way, that info has been taken from a booklet published by Alfa Romeo in the mid-Seventies on the history of the badge, bylined by Rodriguez, who was at that time the historian within the comm's department. The booklet never went on regular sale as it was issued by the company as a promotional document.

Another addition for the sake of historical correctness. The Portello factory is the one in Milano. That area, now having been parytially swalloved by the Milan Exhibition Centre (i.e. Trade Fair) and laying derelict in the remaining sections, still bears the name, which means "little gate", and was already in use before the company built its factory.

Alfasud (rubbish) cars came out from a new plant built in Pomigliano d'Arco, a town close to Naples. the plant is still there, empty and lonely, like the one in Arese, near Milano. And we don't have to forget another madness imposed to Alfa Romeo by some local politicians: to assemble Nissan platform/body and Alfasud engine/transaxle in a purpose-built plant in Avellino (in the same Campania Region as Pomigliano). Those junkies were briefly sold under the trademark Arna (Alfa Romeo Nissan Automobili).

The future of Alfa Romeo is uncertain facing the expected final collapse of Fiat: there are rumors that the brand could be sold to VW-Audi Group, which seems only a mockery to raise the price for GM, which is reported to be primarly interested in the Alfa Romeo brand, Fiat being pure rubbish in the international car market. But this is another story, like to figuring out how the next Alfa Romeo badge will look like.

aldo.zana@agenpress.com

#13 ry6

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 10:34

In 1925, after the victory in the first World Automobile Championship, a golden laurel wreath surrounded the badge, lasting until 1946.

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I read somewhere that when Count Brilli-Peri won the "first world championship" (Slater/Fusi?)
that the laurel wreath was put around the lovely badge.

I have an Alfa Guillietta ti of 1983 and it has the laurel wreath around its badge and the car was bought with it.

#14 QdfV

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 13:26

Aha, a nest of Alfisti! ;-)

#15 dmj

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 14:03

:o :o :o I should double check anything I write to avoid such stupid mistakes as that Portello/Pomigliano d'Arco one...

OT, I rearranged my modelcar collection last weekend and suddenly realized that I don't know anything about one of my favorite models - a beige/brown Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 saloon.

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Is it model of a particular car, in that fabulous colour combination? If it is, where that car is? Biscaretti? Arese? Or it also received sad fate of so many Alfa Romeo saloons and eventually had a replica roadster body fitted?

#16 dmj

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 14:06

Originally posted by QdfV
Aha, a nest of Alfisti! ;-)


QdfV = Quadrifoglio Verde? ;)

#17 QdfV

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 14:16

That is correct DMJ. It is not my real name, as you can imagine, that is Lex de Groot, but I drive a '92 Alfa 75 QdfV. And I am a AR enthousiast. ;-)

#18 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 17:13

Originally posted by dmj

Is it model of a particular car, in that fabulous colour combination? If it is, where that car is? Biscaretti? Arese? Or it also received sad fate of so many Alfa Romeo saloons and eventually had a replica roadster body fitted?


Here's a pic of the real thing:

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It's a 6C1900 (rebored version of the 1750) from 1933. It features one of the first Alfa Romeo home built, standardized bodies. 197 1900 made.

I seem to remember it's at the Arese museum, but not 100% sure. However, that colour combination is on a surviving car.

#19 dmj

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 17:39

:love: Thank you, I always fancied that car and never saw the real thing before.

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#20 dretceterini

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 19:30

Yes, that factory bodied 1900 is in the Arese Museum...or was the last time I was there. It is one of the last 1900s built.

The 6c1900 was the last of the 6c1500-6c1750 line...bigger bore but detuned. They are very rare today. I don't know of any "racing" versions of the 1900. As far as I'm aware, all were 2-door or 4 door sedans or tourers.

#21 dretceterini

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 23:07

The name of the company that built just one prototype with a variable, sliding type transmission, circa 1904-1905 was ALSO named Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, or A.L.F.A. I have no idea what other holdings or business they were in, if any.

I was wondering if Merosi or someone previous bought the "assets" of this company which eventually became Alfa Romeo, or if the original A.L.F.A. went defunct, and the same name was just used again. I know nothing about Italian corporate law, especially back than, so that is why I asked...

#22 dmj

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 01:04

Well, even if Rio models are usually pretty accurate, mine is definitely marked as "6c 1750" - that's why I was afraid it could be turned into a race car replica...

#23 Wolf

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 02:51

I posted this question a while back, but with all the Alfa enthusiasts around, maybe it's worth repeating. I have noticed that Alfa racing cars carried green clover on white 'shield' (QdfV, I presume, but not neccessarily so). But I there was diversity of symbols used, even concurrently- triangular and rectangular 'shields', and three and four leafed clovers... Is there any reason for that?

Another thing, is that I recently saw a discussion here in TNF where someone mentioned that untill some point in time, the name A.L.F.A.-Romeo was used... I don't have my book on Alfas at hand, but I may have seen somewhere that Romeo was just 'added' to A.L.F.A. at latter stage in early part of company's history (when someone took over an office of a sort, I think)...

#24 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 14:05

Wolf,

I stand with what I replied to your question in thread:
http://www.atlasf1.c...&threadid=23072

There's no theory about why they used it or had variation on the theme.

The triangle on its large base with4-leafs became the standard one in 1938 when Alfa Corse replaced the Scuderia Ferrari, and carried over after the war on the Alfettas, then again on Autodelta racing cars from 1965 on.