Born on April 22, 1891 as Viktor János in San Giorgio Canavese to Hungarian immigrants, Vittorio Jano was the son of the Technical Director at one of Turin’s two arsenals. At 18, after completing instruction at the Instituto Professionale Operaio in Turin he took a job as a draughtsman for the Rapid motor works. In 1911 he became an employee of Fiat and worked under the brilliant designer Carlo Cavalli. Fiat at the time was one of the world leaders in automobile technology. In 1921 he became head of a design team within Fiat and worked on the historic 2 liter 805 race car. During this time he befriended Luigi Bazzi who would later move to Alfa Romeo in Milan.
Nicola Romeo owned the Italian franchise of the American Ingersoll company, makers of earth-working equipment, pneumatic drills and air compressors. Because of WW I the importation of equipment became a major problem and Ingersoll decided to give Romeo the license to design and manufacture their products in Italy. Romeo took control of the Alfa factory in Milan and produced the equipment there. After the war there was a need for automobiles in Italy and Romeo turned to producing automobiles full-time as Alfa-Romeos. Motor sport was seen as a proper avenue for the promotion of this “new” company and the former Darracq engineer, Giuseppe Morosi, was tasked to design a new race car. The P1 Alfa was a disappointment and Luigi Bazzi, Alfa-Romeo’s test driver suggested that they hire the young Fiat designer Vittorio Jano. Fiat had a reputation for producing talented designers so Giorgio Rimini went to meet with Jano. He was earning 1800 lire per month at Fiat and Rimini offered him 3500 lire, plus lodging and other inducements. The offer that was too good to be refused and Jano joined Alfa in October of 1923.
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