Fiat-Chrysler CEO Marchionne Uses Racial Slur for New Alfa Romeo Engine


Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. market, which is supposed to revive the historic Italian brand that’s currently on life support, has been announced more times than we can recall, only to be postponed time and time again.

In our 2013 NAIAS review we wrote that, compared to GM and Ford, not to mention foreign carmakers, the Fiat-Chrysler Group presence was underwhelming and we were wondering where Alfa Romeo was.

Apparently, others were thinking along the same line so they questioned the group’s CEO about it. Sergio Marchionne replied that he won’t be bringing the brand to the U.S. until the –long overdue- 159 mid-size sedan replacement, aka the Giulia, is perfect.

So far, so good; the problem is that, while there are many ways to say the exact same thing, Marchionne’s choice of words didn’t exactly sit well with his audience.

“I cannot come up with a schlock product, I just won’t. I won’t put an American engine into that car. With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a wop engine. There are some things that are well-done in Italy.”

Wop is a racial term used for people of Italian heritage that comes from the Italian word “guappo”, which means ruffian or pimp.

When the reporters displayed their evident shock of Marchionne’s use of this term, he turned to one of them and asked: “Why are you surprised?”

Marchionne, who isn’t so sensitive in using American engines in his group’s other brands (Lancia anyone?) is no stranger to using insulting language publicly. In February 2011, while referring to the 2009 bailout loan that Chrysler had received, he had said, “I want to repay the shyster loans”. The word comes from the German term "scheisser", which translates as “one who defecates”...

He apologized for his inappropriate remark the next day.

In the meantime, while in no way are we questioning the fact that there are some things done well in Italy, we’re still waiting for the outspoken Italian-Canadian CEO to make Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. finally happen.

By Andrew Tsaousis

Story References: Reuters




Huge Dom said... »January 17, 2013

Must be a slow news day, never mind Marchionne is Italian himself.

paul Grant said... »January 17, 2013

Frankly I could care what engine he wants to use. Just get Alfa the hell back in the USA.All that seems to happens is Marchionne dangle's the "Carrot" to the news media and then pulls it away. If he is waiting for Europe to get better everyone will be dead and buried before Alfa returns.

Eric Santos said... »January 17, 2013

Very understandable why he's waiting until the car is perfect before it's launched, he doesn't want to repeat the same mistakes in the 159. The 159 itself was supposed to be that perfect 3 series killer, but apart from looks it didn't quite cut it. As for the American engine crack, that also stems from the 159 which had a top of the line V6 with virtually all of it's running components Alfa made. Only the empty engine block itself was made by GM, but according to many Alfisti, (Alfa Romeo fans) that was enough to deem the engine American made and thus a VERY poor replacement of the beloved Arese made "Busso" V6 engines used in previous Alfa Romeo models. Nothing racial about this though, it's just tradition and common sense. Alfa Romeo is a brand with a rich racing history and tradition. Most American brands don't even have a fraction of that same kind of history and tradition and they have various brands and engines being shared and swapped around from model to model with few brands standing out individually as their own. It's not just American engines mind you, it's any non Italian Engines. It's Italian cars with engines of different countries that take a step back in the shadows instead of standing out. Think about how much more popular Pagani would be in relation to the two Italian giants Lamborghini and Ferrari if Pagani made it's own Italian engine instead of using an AMG engine. Or how much more of a hit the Argentine made (made by an italian immigrant) Detomaso Pantera would be if they finished off their "affordable" exotic car with an Italian made engine; Or at least their own Argentine made engine instead of using a Chevy 308. Lancia has the opposite problem. Their engines are great! but their styling is what's un-Italian, thus why Lancia has nearly fallen off the map. The Lancia Delta integrale would be the talk of the WRC world if it only had looks to match it's legendary engine and performance. Many Integrale's could still leave modern Suburu's in the dust, but Suburu's and Lancer Evo's take all the headlines these days. (ie: Ever wonder where Mitsubishi got the idea for that name: Lancer?)

europeon said... »January 18, 2013

Yeah, it would be nice and it would make sense if Marchionne would give a damn about history and tradition, but he was appointed Fiat CEO to make money for the those retarded Elkann brothers. See what he did with Lancia and what he does with Maserati right now.

So, as an aging 159 owner (that will get replaced by german car this year) I would really love to see a proper Alfa, but that won't happen. It will be a rebranded POS Chrysler with crappy engines, a questionable design (like MiTO or Giulietta) and poor interior quality.

Akash Gura Goredo said... »January 18, 2013

Got your point very well, Eric bro, A-OK. But.

But, SubAru.
SubAru, Eric bro.

bruno s said... »January 18, 2013

Agreed ... any engine in an Alfa must be from Alfa. I have two Alfas (twinspark, V6 Busso) and their charisma stems directly from their great powerplants. Its good to see Marchionne understands this. I have a feeling that this is the right man to get Alfa back on track.

Bruno Silva said... »January 18, 2013

I'm sorry. "Guappo" means handsome, elegant. If "Wop" derives from it then your interpretation is wrong. You'd better check your italian dictionary.

dumblikeyou2 said... »January 18, 2013

Well the Italians in the NY/NJ area know the phrase WOP as WithOut Papers. The guappo answer is just a really bad research on Wiki used by the author of this article.

dumblikeyou2 said... »January 18, 2013

And if I'm not mistaken, because of the great WOP engines that he speaks about, were they not the root cause of why people referred to FIAT as Fix It Again Tony?

jh said... »January 18, 2013

sorry, but american enginges just don't work in an european car - especially not in an alfa! alfa is about emotions and the arese was alfa's heartbeat. the 'new' v6 was developed by holden (belongs to gm, but it is australian...) and it was plain crap. no emotions, no real power, burned fuel just like an american bigblock, though...

alfa needs to return to its roots - it's its last chance. the last 20 years were all about the arese and the design. the design part was screwed up, once the beautiful 8c was finished.

i'm fine with the 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. but alfa just needs its own v6 with an astonishing sound and an emotional character. and cut down on the "wanna-be" alfa design language of the past 5 years.

and screw all that fwd and pseudo dna sporty equipment. make alfas real sportscars again that rival bmw and some of them even porsche. give them rwd and lightweight construction. let lancia do the rally stuff with 4wd and fiat just the tiny cars and people carrier...

it could be that simple...

Lorenzo said... »January 18, 2013

Umh.. Shyster loans? It probably comes from German language as most part of english words comes from German language but what surprise me that I am Italian is the google translation that use as translation the strange word " azzeccagarbugli" that is a word invented in a famous ( in Italy ) romance as surname for one of the character ( a lawyer ) very able to get entangled ( to garble ) the law or better to find the way to escape from difficult laws problem. ( azzeccare means to guess, to find + garbugli means twine, garble ). If I check this translation in the sentence of Mr.MArchionne the translation of Shyster is correct in the meaning. If I reverse and I translate the italian word in German.. I obtain correctly : Rechtsverdreher - Winkeladvokaten and also Shyster...that sound like trickster and in any case sound a good translation...

The italian word Guappo ( is a regional expression for a type of person ) has a twiced value. Originally the Guappo is a typical honorable gentleman, romantic, ready to settle disputes between people but in the meanwhile that take a lot care of beauty ( the word Guappo comes from Spanish Guapo that should means Beautiful, or pleasant - in Italian it means BELLO ) and distinguished for the dress code oftene excessive, its particular posture tense to ostentation of himself and a meticulous care of its body and its face. It's role was a people of power that solve criminal situation in some areas ( such as a local hero that help poor people). Later the meaning and function of these kind of person has been involved in underworld criminal organization and become negative. Probably in the american language the word gauppo translated in Wop has a dispregiative meaning that indicates, in a derogatory sense, the Italians.

John Goodwyn said... »January 18, 2013

Well you know the old joke why are helicopter's are not allowed to fly in ITALY ?
because they go whop whop whop.........

Richard Wright said... »January 18, 2013

Thanks for this article. I think its great what Chrysler-Milton is doing, I think they are to the point when they have to consider taking risks anyways.

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