Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Saturday, March 14, 2015

F-35A Fighter Jets Unveiled

"Lockheed Martin has rolled out the first F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft from the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at Cameri Air Base in northern Italy."

"...Lockheed Martin is proud of its relationship with Italy and values the highly-skilled Alenia Aermacchi workforce building this incredible jet...."

"...The F-35 is a fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft, and is designed to conduct a wide range of ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defence missions with stealth capability.
The three F-35 variants include a conventional take-off and landing aircraft for the US and allied air forces, a short takeoff and landing fighter for the US Marine Corps and the UK Royal Navy, as well as a carrier version for the US Navy...."

The Men Behind Timless Engineering Designs

Prior to offering his engineering skills to Maserati and Lamborghini, Giulio Alfieri built his reputation at Lambretta and Innocenti. In addition to building chassis and engines (including for Citroen) he also designed Maserati motorcyles.

After Alejandro De Tomaso bought Maserati in 1975, he summarily dismissed Alfieri who was influential in blocking the sale while the company was still owned by the Orsi family seven years prior.

Here are snippets of his creations:

Image credits: Top - From Mega Deluxe 1951 Lambretta; 2nd image a scooter that reached 200 km/hr. Third, Lamborghini Countach (25th anniversary edition); Fourth, Maserati (Birdcage 1961); Last, Alfieri working on engine.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Racing Cars And The Italian Economy

Here are some excerpts from a paper titled The Italian Sports Car Cluster (Harvard):

"...Another interesting phenomenon in Italy’s business environment is the prevalence of small-
medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly in manufacturing. Two-thirds of Italian manufacturing workers are in firms with fewer than 100 employees, versus 37% in the U.S. and 31% in Germany. Italy has more SMEs than any other country in Europe—more than 50% more than Germany, the next largest. The Economist argues that a globalize world puts a premium on size, so that Italy’s SME legacy will be forced to change...."

"...Northern Italy is among the richest regions in all of Europe, when measured by disposable income..."
"...Exports of goods, including automotive, are sent mostly to Europe (72%).

Italy’s natural resources exports account only for 0.5% of its
GDP and 2.4% of exports.

Italy has the most industrially-diversified exports in the ICCP sample, measured by the
lowest percentage of exports concentrated in the Top 50 Industries (42%).

Italy has significant strength at the cluster level in world markets (Tab
le 1): Seven Italian clusters are among the top 3 in the world, and 15 are in the top 5 (from
a sample of 42 clusters), giving Italy a 17% and 36% share. Similar strength exists with sub-clusters

Italy is among the richest countries in the world, with development indicators comparable to its
European peers and the OECD average.

How does Italy achieve such high levels of income with a relatively poor business environment?
-worsening business environment
-north dragging down by south
-clusters not affected by government policies

"...Modena, Italy, the home of the Italian sports car cluster, is known as the "international capital of sports cars." It is the birthplace of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and De Tomaso. The first
three of these (De Tomaso no longer manufactures cars) comprise the core of the cluster we will
be analyzing. All three companies have their headquarters within a 15-km radius of one another. This small geographic area produces a surprisingly large portion—nearly a third, overall—of the high end sports car units sold worldwide every year..."

"...As we can see from Exhibit 13, given Italy’s level of GDP per capita, it has an extremely high penetration of cars per thousand.

In fact, Italy has the second highest absolute car penetration behind Luxembourg."

*Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta (1964) image from Bold Ride.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Venturi's Physics And Random Car Photos

"The Venturi effect is the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe. The Venturi effect is named after Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822), an Italian physicist."

In F1 it helps to improve downforce.

Wind tunnels a key component/feature in the aerodynamic designs of Italian cars.

***  ***

Some random car photos:

Images: 1st The most expensive car in the world Ferrari 250 GTO (1964); 2nd Concept car extraordinaire DeTomaso Vallelunga (1966);  3rd: The exquisite Lancia Flaminia Zagato (1966); The audacious Lamborghini Diablo (1992). Last, Lamborghini LM002 (1985).

Sports Car Racing History

In-depth history lesson of the sports car industry at the Gutenberg project.

Hint: Italy features prominently.


"...In the 1920s, the cars used in endurance racing and Grand Prix were still basically identical, with fenders and two seats, to carry a mechanic if necessary or permitted. Cars such as the Bugatti Type 35 were almost equally at home in Grands Prix and endurance events, but specialisation gradually started to differentiate the sports-racer from the Grand Prix car. The legendary Alfa Romeo Tipo A Monoposto started the evolution of the true single-seater in the early 1930s; the Grand Prix racer and its miniature voiturette offspring rapidly evolved into high performance single seaters optimised for relatively short races, by dropping fenders and the second seat..."

"...In open-road endurance races across Europe such as the Mille Miglia, Tour de France and Targa Florio, which were often run on dusty roads, the need for fenders and a mechanic or navigator was still there. As mainly Italian cars and races defined the genre, the category was called Gran Turismo, as long distances had to be travelled, rather than running around on short circuits only..."

"...Italy found itself with both grassroots racing with a plethora of Fiat based specials (often termed "etceterinis") and small Alfa Romeos, and exotica such as Maserati and Ferrari – who also sold cars to domestic customers as well as racing on the world stage. Road races such as the Mille Miglia included everything from stock touring cars to World Championship contenders. The Mille Miglia was the largest sporting event in Italy until a fatal accident caused its demise in 1957. The Targa Florio, another tough road race, remained part of the world championship until the 1970s and remained as a local race for many years afterwards..."