Ugo Gobbato, a great Alfa Romeo manager
24 March 2018

A great Alfa man, recounted by our "Lady in Red" Elvira Ruocco, another page of unmissable history to share with our Alfisti friends.

Ugo Gobbato was born in 1888 in Volpago di Montello, near Trieste, into a family of small farmers. He completed his technical studies and graduated in engineering. After gaining experience in small companies he joined Ercole Marelli and after the First World War he joined Fiat and, within two years, became director of the entire Lingotto complex where he remained from 1921 to 1929, the year in which Fiat assigned him tasks abroad: first in Germany, then in Spain where he met engineer Ricart who would arrive at Alfa Romeo in October 1936. In 1931 he was sent to Moscow to build Russia's first ball bearing factory.
In December 1933 he was called to Alfa at the direct request of Mussolini and with the approval of Fiat, which probably thought it would be good to have someone at Alfa who had close relations with the Turin company. But during the years he was at Alfa (1933-1945), Gobbato was often at odds with Fiat, and worked hard to make Alfa Romeo grow until it gained a large share of the aviation engine market at the expense of the Caproni group and Fiat itself. He also carried out a major reorganisation of the Portello factory, overcoming technical, professional training and labour recruitment obstacles.
He planned the San Martino aeronautical plant in Pomigliano d'Arco (NA), which started work in 1938, from scratch, and for him it was a great challenge, as can be seen from some of his expressions: 'we must act in Pomigliano with the faith of an apostle and enthusiasm', and again: 'we want the most perfect harmony to reign in this factory and above all we want everything to be crystal clear, from the point of view of work, management and orders'. Gobbato was a man of the shop floor, he travelled around the factory a lot, not only to observe the behaviour of the staff, but also to exchange a few words of encouragement and to make corrections when necessary, or to check the good technical execution of the work. The epilogue is unfortunately well known: Ugo Gobbato was killed on 28 April 1945. As he was returning from his office on his bicycle, he was approached by a blue Lancia Augusta car with three armed men on board, near Via Domodossola, in the Fiera area, who shot and killed him. Italian industry lost a great manager, a man who could have made an important contribution to post-war Italian industry and society.

Elvira Ruocco, historical memory of Alfa Romeo, thanks to her more than twenty years of experience at the Alfa Romeo Centro di Documentazione Storica, has become part of the Museum team and in the column "Elvira Racconta" she will share curiosities and anecdotes that you may not know or remember. We will retrace the legendary history of Alfa Romeo with her..