ALFA Romeo used the unveiling of its new game-changing Giulia sports sedan to give its iconic badge a tweak, simplifying the design while retaining its ancient, slightly politically incorrect overtone.
Revealed in Italy overnight on the Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan at the Alfa Romeo museum – also given a revamp for the occasion – the badge has fewer elements and more muted colours, but retains the famous red cross of the fifth-century Crusaders and the green serpent that reputedly is shown swallowing a Moor – a Muslim of the mediaeval era.
Both elements of the badge were incorporated in the first Alfa badge when the company was founded 105 years ago, and were taken from old emblems around Milan.
The serpent is said to be called Biscione, the emblem of the 14th-century Milanese rulers House of Visconti, while the red cross is the emblem of Milan itself.
It is not the first time the badge has been tweaked, having been altered at least three times since 1910 when the company was born as Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, which translates as Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company.
In the latest change, gone is the gold lettering and outlines, replaced by chrome. The white (on the left) and blue (on the right) have made way for a silver patina, and the Alfa Romeo lettering has a slimmer new seraph font.
The doomed Moor is less obvious, losing his red enamel colouring for a plain chrome look, while the serpent has fewer coils – three instead of five. The serpent’s crown also has been reduced in both size and complexity.
Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is spending billions of dollars on revving up the Alfa brand, with eight upcoming models unabashedly designed and engineered to take on rivals such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar and Lexus.
The multi-billion-dollar plan has been driven from the top, where FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is keen to not only quadruple Alfa sales but restore its lustre as a premium sports brand with global reach, particularly in the United States where it has struggled.
The Giulia has been at least eight years in development, with the design reportedly changed at least once on the orders of Mr Marchionne.
The Giulia name revives a legendary moniker from the 1960s and 1970s. The original Giulia combined a lightweight body with a small but powerful engine to provide sprightly performance, carving out a place in the hearts of Alfisti of the era.
The same formula is being applied to the born-again Giulia, although the technologies and performance are truly 21st century.
Like the old model, the new Giulia is set to get a wagon version, as well as a variety of engine choices, including diesel.
Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo has spent almost a year rebuilding its defunct company museum at Arese, on the site of an old Alfa car plant outside Milan.
Originally opened in 1976, the ‘Museo Storico Alfa Romeo’ housed Alfa’s own collection, gathered since the early 1960s.
However, it was only open to visitors by reservation, and ultimately closed after the Alfa plant at the site was decommissioned in 2009.
In 2013, the company decided to renovate and reopen it, with work starting mid-2014. It now houses 69 of the finest Alfa Romeo classics, including racecars driven by heroes such as Tazio Nuvolari and Juan Manuel Fangio.
The museum will open on June 30, with daily showings except on Tuesdays.