Farewell to Alfa Romeo’s side-mounted number plate

Brussels’ pedestrian safety rules spell end of 70-year tradition

Tech&Science May 30, 2024 /idopress/

EU safety rules have decreed that offset number plates were a greater danger to pedestrians than centre-mounted versions

Credit: Alberto Giorgio Alquati

Alfa Romeos are to lose their iconic side-mounted number plates after more than 70 years because of EU rules.

Brussels regulations on pedestrian safety are to blame for the end of the seven-decade tradition,the company said.

Current models featuring the side-mounted plates are likely to be the very last,with future electric and petrol editions alike now having to have their number plates mounted centrally.

Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos,Alfa’s design chief,told Autocar magazine: “We cannot put the number plate on the side any more because of the homologation regulations for pedestrian [safety]”.

Alfa-Romeo’s tradition started with the 1955 Giulietta Spider and continues today with the current Giulia,Tonale and Stelvio models.

“Some die-hard Alfisti,” said the designer,referring to fans of the marque,“who think an Alfa Romeo isn’t an Alfa Romeo unless it has the number plate on the side won’t be happy,but there are plenty of beautiful Alfa Romeos in history which have the number plate in the middle.

“I own an Alfetta and a 1968 Giulia which have a central plate and look beautiful,” he added.

Offsetting the number plate means Alfa Romeo’s signature triangular ’scudetto’ radiator grille is not obscured.

Moving the number plate to the side was originally needed on the 1955 Giuletta Spider 750/101-Series because otherwise it blocked the radiator,causing the engine to overheat.

Danger to pedestrians

The change relates to changes made in the European Union’s new General Safety Regulations after Brussels bureaucrats decreed that offset number plates were a greater danger to pedestrians than centre-mounted versions.

Other car makers including supercar designer Bugatti as well as Ineos,maker of the Land Rover Defender-style Grenadier SUV,also use off-centre number plates on their vehicles.

In the past,car makers such as Mercedes and Mitsubishi have also adopted the practice.

The number plate controversy is not the only recent occasion where Alfa Romeo has fallen foul of politicians’ disapproval of its business practices.

In April the Italian carmaker had to change the name of its Milano SUV after Giorgia Meloni’s government criticised the company for making the vehicle in Poland,in spite of naming it after Italy’s second biggest city.

Jean-Philippe Imparato,Alfa Romeo’s boss,said: “We decided to change the name,even though we know that we are not required to do so,because we want to preserve the positive emotion that our products have always generated and avoid any type of controversy.”

The battery-powered electric vehicle is now known as the Junior.

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