• Matteo Licata

The Tragic Story Behind Alfa's "Quadrifoglio" Badge

The Giulia Quadrifoglio brought back into the limelight Alfa's picturesque four-leaf clover symbol back in 2015... And if you've ever wondered what it means and how it came about, you're in the right place.

The green cloverleaf first appeared on an Alfa Romeo in 1923, on the RL TF driven by Ugo Sivocci during that year's Targa Florio, one of the era's most prestigious races. Sivocci was one of the so-called "four musketeers," as the Italian press often called the four official Alfa Romeo drivers: Sivocci, Ascari, Campari, and Enzo Ferrari.

Alfa Romeo prepared four cars for the event, and Sivocci got a green cloverleaf over a white square painted on his one to bring him luck for the race.

It worked.

Ugo Sivocci crossed the line as the winner for the 1923 Targa Florio, giving Alfa Romeo its first major victory on the international racing circus.

Unfortunately, Sivocci's good fortune wasn't going to last, though.

A few months later, on the 8th September 1923, Ugo Sivocci lost his life on the Monza circuit during practice for the 1st European Grand Prix. His Alfa was devoid of the green cloverleaf due to the car's rushed preparation. This coincidence didn't go unnoticed in the quite superstitious racing world of the time.

Starting from the 1924 season, the Alfa Romeo factory racing cars were all decorated with the green cloverleaf and, in memory of Sivocci, the white square became a triangle to signify his absence.

It would take a further forty years to see the green cloverleaf symbol used to distinguish a particularly sporty version of a roadgoing Alfa Romeo, first with the 1963 Giulia Ti Super, then onto the GTA and GTA Junior coupés.

However, in a typically Italian fashion, Alfa wasn't very consistent in its use of the cloverleaf badge, which disappeared from production cars until the 1980s, with the gold cloverleaf badge's introduction. Used alongside the traditional green one, the new gold badge stood for luxury rather than performance, which remained symbolized by the old green badge.

While the gold cloverleaf disappeared as soon as Alfa Romeo entered Fiat's orbit, the green cloverleaf thankfully seems here to stay.