One of the top names in the history of automobiles was Vittorio Jano, who was born Victor János on 22 April 1891. Originally from San Giorgio Canavese, in the province of Turin, Jano graduated from the Istituto Professionale Operaio and entered Fiat in 1911 as a mechanical designer of racing cars under Giulio Cesare Cappa. Those were the days of the Fiat 804 and of the victories of Felice Nazzaro. He remained at FIAT until 1923 when, thanks to the good offices of Enzo Ferrari, he moved to Alfa Romeo: thus it was that the meeting of the two great minds, of Jano and Ferrari, led to the encounter with Luigi Bazzi from Novara and to the creation in 1924 of the Alfa Romeo P2, an icon of motorcar racing in the 1920s. The car was fitted with Pirelli Superflex Cord tyres, which were praised by engineer Nicola Romeo himself: a further guarantee of high performance and safety. Antonio Ascari won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in October 1924 in his P2, ahead of the other Alfa P2s driven by Louis Wagner, Giuseppe Campari and Ferdinando Minoia. The following year, Gastone Brilli Peri took his Alfa P2 to victory at Monza, in the first World Championship for Grand Prix cars: a triumph for Alfa Romeo and for Vittorio Jano.
1925 also saw the unveiling of the Alfa 6C at the Portello factory. Jano had been asked for “an economic, lightweight car with brilliant performance”, and here it was: light, robust, and modern. For over twenty years, the 6C – renamed NR as a tribute to Nicola Romeo – was followed by a whole generation of six-cylinder Alfa 6 cars, all the way to 1950.
Vittorio Jano later moved to Lancia, where he helped design the amazing Aurelia, which came out in 1950: another stroke of genius. It was the legacy of a man who, behind the scenes, contributed to the success of the Made in Italy label and to the memorable records broken by motorcar racing champions.