Speed, Style, Quality, and a Dash of Luck: the Story Behind the Quadrifoglio

The legendary four-leaf clover on some Alfa Romeos carries a history of both victory and tragedy. The Quadrifoglio badge became a symbol of luck for the brand. But what is the story behind it?

Back in the 1920s, Ugo Sivocci, an Italian race car driver, joined the Alfa Romeo works team alongside his friend Enzo Ferrari, Antonio Ascari, and Giuseppe Campari. Sivocci, though talented behind the wheel, seemed to have a bit of bad luck. Always the bridesmaid, Sivocci time and time again finished in second place but never first. Wanting some good fortune at the 1923 Targa Florio, he painted a white square with a green four-leaf clover on the side of his RL’s front end. He won.

Quadrifoglio on 1923 Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio
1923 Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio. Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

A few months after his victory, Sivocci was testing the new Alfa Romeo P1 at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. He didn’t have time to paint the cloverleaf on his car before going out on the track. Sivocci went off the track in a turn and tragedy struck. He lost his life at the age of 38.

Ever since, Alfa Romeo’s race cars and high-performance production cars have carried the “Quadrifoglio Verde” badge as a lucky charm, though the four-leaf clover is now within a triangle instead of a square. The missing point commemorates Sivocci. Additionally, Sivocci’s racing number, 17, was never assigned to another Italian race car.

The first production road car to sport the Quadrifoglio badge was the 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia TI Super, a sporty variant of the Giulia saloon. Only the cloverleaf, no white triangle, appeared the car’s sides. The Quadrifoglio has been a trim level of the sportiest variants of Alfa models, including today’s small MiTo and Giulietta hatchbacks and the Giulia sedan. In the 1970s and ’80s, the some of the cloverleafs were gold, designating the most luxurious and well-equipped variants. These “Quadrifoglio Oro” Alfas included the Alfasud, Alfetta, and 33.

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