Abstract: Motor Racing Competitions as Fashion: The Influence on Alfa Romeo's Image, 1924-1951

Alan Guido Mantoan


The aim of this paper is to investigate the importance of motor racing as a means to affect Alfa Romeo car sales. During the 1920s the firm produced artisanal sports cars for wealthy costumers. Alfa Romeo, in spite of financial difficulties, started to win a great number of competitions and the Italian fascist regime used these results and the popularity of the firm to make political propaganda. Thus the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI) recovered the firm during the 1930s with a concentric diversification, but the factory carried on the effort in races achieving important results. After the war Alfa Romeo resumed winning until the company's decision to suspend Formula One racing activities starting from 1951, judged too expensive. The 1900 was the first Alfa Romeo car built on an assembly line that was sportive, but at the same time oriented toward the postwar Italian middle class. Alfa Romeo is a significant case of a firm capable of using racing fashion to make the image of its sports car famous around the world.