Alfa Romeo, classic cars, historic vehicles, Motoring News, sport cars

What’s in a label? The historic story of the Alfa Romeo clover leaf

THE ALFA CLOVER LEAF: It was a square until one of its early race drivers was killed – the missing fourth side is in his memory. Image: Alfa Romeo.

MIDRAND, Gauteng – The flanks of Alfa Romeo’s flagship Giulia QV and Stelvio Q are adorned by a label almost as legendary as the badge itself. The so-called Quadrifoglio – literally, four-leaf clover in Italian – has become the performance stamp for the 110-year-old brand since it first appeared on an Alfa Romeo in 1923.

In addition to the Giulia and Stelvio, the Quadrifoglio can also be seen on the Alfa Romeo Racing Formula 1 cars, 60 years after it was seen on the flanks of Guiseppe Farina’s Alfetta 158 which won the inaugural F1 championship in 1950.

However, the ”trademark” clover wasn’t always in a white triangle…


In 1923 Alfa Romeo works driver Ugo Sivocci was nicknamed ”l’eterno secondo” – always second – so he put his faith in the Irish good-luck talisman. He painted it in a white square on the nose of his Alfa Romeo RL for that year’s Targa Florio, one of four cars prepared for the race for Sivocci and team mates Antonio Ascari, Enzo Ferrari and Giulio Masetti.

dddddd Image: Alfa Romeo

Alfa dominated the race, Sivocci won, and Alfa Romeo’s notched up its first international victory. The Quadrifoglio, the team believed, had broken the string of misfortune and it has since appeared on all Alfa race cars.

READ MORE Alfa Romeo features on Carman’s Corner

But not quite – especially for Sivocci… A few months later technical complications resulted in his Alfa Romeo P1 being the only car in the team without the charm. A crash cost him his life. So, to honour him, the remaining three drivers removed a side of the square to make a white triangle in honour of their missing team-mate.

The symbol remains that way to this day. However…

THERE THROUGH THE DECADES: Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super. Image: Alfa Romeo

The performance triangle continued on many Alfa Romeo race cars and then came the first production car to carry the Quadrifoglio – a 1963 Giulia Ti Super that, although designed to race, was widely sold as a road car. The 1965 Giulia GTA also bore it proudly on production and race cars. It’s also seen on the latest GTA (March 2020).


During the 1970s the green four-leaf clover became the model name for the sportiest road-going Alfa Romeos. It was also seen in gold on the most luxurious models and then in 1992 became another name for Alfa Romeo, defining the four-wheel drive transmission of the turbocharged 155 Q4.

It has since appeared on the 2007 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, the sportiest Giulietta and the 4C and has become a badge of high-performance for anybody lucky enough to own one of Alfa Romeo’s sportiest cars.

RIGHT FROM THE VERY START: Alfa-Romeo-RL-Super-Sport_HP. The clover-leaf badge as it originally appeared. Image: Alfa Romeo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s