This Isn’t Even the First Time Alfa Ditched the Milano Name for a Car

Like the new Junior, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta originally went by “Milano,” until a similar last-minute name change.

byAdam Ismail|
Alfa Romeo News photo
Stellantis, edited by The Drive


The unusual tale of Alfa Romeo caving to political pressure over the name of a small SUV has captivated the world over the last week. Apparently, the automaker's website crashed as a consequence of the headlines and, if you run PR for the Italian marque, you really can't be too disappointed about the publicity that the formerly Milano, now Junior has received. Thing is, this isn't the first time Alfa Romeo has had to walk back a name change of a new model at the last minute. Even more amusingly, this isn't even the first time it's happened to a car that was going to be called "Milano."

Students of automotive history will know the Giulietta hatchback that shared bones with our ill-fated Dodge Dart and lasted from 2011 to 2020 was originally intended to be named after the city in which Alfa Romeo was founded. However, the company wasn't forced to swap in a new moniker for the same reason it has for the Junior, because the Giulietta was built in Italy, and therefore didn't break any laws about products with Italian names not actually manufactured there.

Rather, back in 2009, Alfa Romeo was in the process of shuttering facilities in Milan and moving house to Turin, where it's located today. Press was referring to the yet-unnamed hatch as the Milano, as a Top Gear article from the period proves. In fact, when Alfa began reaching out to media, it sent photos of the compact we now know as the Giulietta wearing a badge that read "Milano." I'll have you know I've searched all over the internet for these images and I have nothing to show for my trouble—yet.

Anyway, at some point, someone in the company realized that naming a new product after the city in which you're closing down factories and relocating employees away from wouldn't be the finest look. We can thank Nir Khan and Richard Porter, a.k.a. Sniff Petrol, for bringing this to our attention today on X.

(By the way, you can buy A Medium-sized Book of Boring Car Trivia, right here from that big website that originally sold books but now sells everything.)

And so, the hatch Alfa had wanted to call Milano suddenly became the Giulietta, which also, like the Junior, was a reference to an older nameplate. At least in the Giulietta's case, only journalists were aware of the last-minute decision, and the car hadn't been revealed to the public in a glitzy livestream before the proverbial excrement hit the fan. Livestreams weren't really a thing back then; these were the halcyon days when Hulu was still completely free. We didn't know how good we had it.

It's worth noting that Alfa did sell a car named Milano once upon a time; it was the North American moniker for the Alfa Romeo 75 sedan, which lasted from 1985 to 1992, three years before the manufacturer left the region for nearly two decades. Perhaps that's what started the curse?

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