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Pirelli Wunderbar!”

The history of Pirelli in Germany is one of travels, market analyses and investments. Pirelli’s headquarters in Germany is now in Breuberg, in the south of Hesse, in a factory that was taken over by the company in 1963 after its acquisition of Veith, a company that had been making tyres for bicycles and vehicles since 1903. But the history of Pirelli in Germany goes back much further, to the late nineteenth century, and our Historical Archive contains masses of information about what the company and its people have achieved over the years. A journey in many successive stages that, on closer inspection, goes back to even before Giovanni Battista Pirelli decided to set up the company in 1872. It was indeed he who also visited the German Länder in 1870 while on his “educational trip abroad”.

Further travels and studies continued in the years that followed. This can be seen, for example, in the letter that Alberto Pirelli wrote to his brother Piero on 24 November 1915 with a detailed report on the supply of rubber and derivatives in Germany and Austria, as well as on the export bans on Pirelli products. The report offers a careful analysis not only of the commercial regulations, but also of the international competition that Pirelli had to face on the German market. A few years later, in April 1921, after the end of the First World War, Pirelli sent Luigi Emanueli to Germany. Emanueli was one of the company’s engineers who made history, inventing the oil-filled cable in 1917 and the famous Cinturato™ tyre in the 1950s. He came back from his trip with a great stash of information: reports on dozens and dozens of companies he had visited and spoken with, quotations for raw materials, patents, drawings and technical surveys, and detailed notes on numerous companies in the same or similar sectors. This invaluable information formed the basis for further studies of market and technical factors that were carried out over the following years.

Our Archive also contains information about the advances Pirelli has made in Germany year after year, ever since production started in Breuberg. These include the progress the company has made in terms of both production and sales. Fatti e Notizie, the company house organ, gave ample space to news from Germany: 1988, for example, was the year when a new truck tyre plant went into operation, and in 2005 the magazine hailed the production record achieved by the factory with the title “Pirelli Wunderbar!”. The Breuberg plant celebrated its first 50 years in 2013. This was an important occasion, for the Long P factory was involved on both the car and motorcycle fronts, with a special role being played by the Metzeler brand, a historic German company taken over by Pirelli in 1986 and specialised in the manufacture of tyres for the two-wheel market.

Pirelli also made its presence in Germany known through advertising. In its collection, the Archive has many advertisements for the Cinturato, which also in Germany focused on “the safety of motorists”. This can be seen in the communication campaign of 1968, created by the graphic artist Pino Tovaglia, which includes the German flag. And the concept of safety returned to Germany in the 1980s with the Die Beine Ihres Autos campaign, in which a series of short films were released over a number of years, with several subjects (as well as a printed version), where the protagonists travel while balanced on a tyre, as though they really were “on the legs of their cars”.

Over the years, the Breuberg plant has turned into a high-tech factory devoted to the production of high-end tyres, with a close eye on production efficiency and on its environmental implications. Over the decades, the tyres manufactured in Breuberg have been mounted on the cars of such manufacturers as Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo, as well as on BMW, Ducati and Honda motorcycles. “Pirelli Wunderbar!” has never rung so true.

The history of Pirelli in Germany is one of travels, market analyses and investments. Pirelli’s headquarters in Germany is now in Breuberg, in the south of Hesse, in a factory that was taken over by the company in 1963 after its acquisition of Veith, a company that had been making tyres for bicycles and vehicles since 1903. But the history of Pirelli in Germany goes back much further, to the late nineteenth century, and our Historical Archive contains masses of information about what the company and its people have achieved over the years. A journey in many successive stages that, on closer inspection, goes back to even before Giovanni Battista Pirelli decided to set up the company in 1872. It was indeed he who also visited the German Länder in 1870 while on his “educational trip abroad”.

Further travels and studies continued in the years that followed. This can be seen, for example, in the letter that Alberto Pirelli wrote to his brother Piero on 24 November 1915 with a detailed report on the supply of rubber and derivatives in Germany and Austria, as well as on the export bans on Pirelli products. The report offers a careful analysis not only of the commercial regulations, but also of the international competition that Pirelli had to face on the German market. A few years later, in April 1921, after the end of the First World War, Pirelli sent Luigi Emanueli to Germany. Emanueli was one of the company’s engineers who made history, inventing the oil-filled cable in 1917 and the famous Cinturato™ tyre in the 1950s. He came back from his trip with a great stash of information: reports on dozens and dozens of companies he had visited and spoken with, quotations for raw materials, patents, drawings and technical surveys, and detailed notes on numerous companies in the same or similar sectors. This invaluable information formed the basis for further studies of market and technical factors that were carried out over the following years.

Our Archive also contains information about the advances Pirelli has made in Germany year after year, ever since production started in Breuberg. These include the progress the company has made in terms of both production and sales. Fatti e Notizie, the company house organ, gave ample space to news from Germany: 1988, for example, was the year when a new truck tyre plant went into operation, and in 2005 the magazine hailed the production record achieved by the factory with the title “Pirelli Wunderbar!”. The Breuberg plant celebrated its first 50 years in 2013. This was an important occasion, for the Long P factory was involved on both the car and motorcycle fronts, with a special role being played by the Metzeler brand, a historic German company taken over by Pirelli in 1986 and specialised in the manufacture of tyres for the two-wheel market.

Pirelli also made its presence in Germany known through advertising. In its collection, the Archive has many advertisements for the Cinturato, which also in Germany focused on “the safety of motorists”. This can be seen in the communication campaign of 1968, created by the graphic artist Pino Tovaglia, which includes the German flag. And the concept of safety returned to Germany in the 1980s with the Die Beine Ihres Autos campaign, in which a series of short films were released over a number of years, with several subjects (as well as a printed version), where the protagonists travel while balanced on a tyre, as though they really were “on the legs of their cars”.

Over the years, the Breuberg plant has turned into a high-tech factory devoted to the production of high-end tyres, with a close eye on production efficiency and on its environmental implications. Over the decades, the tyres manufactured in Breuberg have been mounted on the cars of such manufacturers as Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo, as well as on BMW, Ducati and Honda motorcycles. “Pirelli Wunderbar!” has never rung so true.

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