Alfa Romeo History: Embark on a Timeless Journey Now
Genesis of the “Cuore Sportivo”
The legend began in 1910 when Ugo Stella bought the shares of the Italian Society of Darraq Automobiles, the Italian production headquarters of a French car manufacturer. The first headquarters is in the northwestern outskirts of Milan, and the company is called “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” ALFA.
The same year the first car emerged: the 24HP, designed by Giuseppe Merosi. The 24HP “Corsa” version debuts in the Targa Florio of 1911. The first Alfa Romeo brand comprises two Milanese symbols: the Visconti serpent (“Biscione”) on a blue background and the red cross on a white background of the municipality’s banner. From Milan, enclosed in a metallic circle with “ALPHA” and “MILAN” separated by two Savoyard knots.
In 1915, after the entry of Italy into the First World War, ALFA was acquired by the Neapolitan industrialist Nicola Romeo, who modified his production, orienting it towards the conflict. From the businessman’s last name, the new ALFA name and a new emblem are born.
New name, new emblem
Automobiles are once again the protagonists: in 1920, the first car with the Alfa Romeo brand saw the light: the “Torpedo 20-20 HP”. With Campari’s maiden Mugello victory behind the wheel of a 40-60 HP, Alfa Romeo lays the foundation for its sporting legend. In the same year, Enzo Ferrari entered Alfa Romeo and immediately conquered, with the 40-60 HP, a second place in the Targa Florio.
In 1921 Merasi designed the model that will make Alfa Romeo famous throughout the world. The RL of which 2640 units are manufactured. Derivatives of higher power were also prepared, the RLT (Tourism) and the RLS (Sports).
In 1929, the Scuderia Ferrari was born in Modena, which until 1938 would maintain an intimate relationship with Alfa Romeo. Enzo Ferrari exclusively manages the Biscione’s racing vehicles: Alfa’s racing section. Success is immediate with a first place in the Thousand Miles at the wheel of a 6C 1750. This model managed to save the company from a serious crisis caused by bad economic times. In 1928 Nicola Romeo left the company, which was about to close.
The Golden Age
In the 1930s, Alfa-Romeo acquired a large commercial presence with a magnificent sales network and technical assistance in France, England, Spain, etc. In 1932, Ugo Gobbato took control of the management, which restructured the departments. In this decade, models such as the 6C-1900, 6C-2300, 8C-2300, or the 8C-2900 came to light, considered “The fastest and most beautiful car in the world.”
War and postwar
With the entry of Italy into the war, Alfa Romeo finds itself mired in many organizational difficulties. The cars – to escape the bombings and requisitions – hide in Melzo, inside a factory. Supplies became increasingly scarce, while factories suffered three air attacks in 1940, 1943, and 1944. In 1945 production was relaunched, but employees produced electric cookers or metal furniture, unable to manufacture anything else. The only model produced in the 1940s was the 6C-2500. In 1946, Orazio Satta Puliga became Alfa Romeo’s Chief Designer and his first contribution was the 6C-2500 S Freccia d’Oro.
In the 1950s, Alfa Romeo devoted its greatest effort to reviving vehicle production. The new models are boasts of Italian industry and represent “made in Italy.” Among others, the 1900 models stand out (“The family car that wins races”), or the Giulietta in the Sprint coupé version, with a youthful and dynamic line designed by Bertone. Sports vehicles, such as the 1900 Sport -Disco Volante- participate in the Tourism categories of the various European championships. In 1957 they added up to 142 victories. In 1958, Alfa Romeo signed a contract with Renault to build the “Dauphine” sedan.
Alpha-passion is contagious
In 1960 the construction of the Arese plant began. The first vehicle manufacturing would be the Giulia, of which more than a million units will be sold in the different versions. The Giulia is a three-volume saloon with a new truncated tail line, an original design that would soon become a great success. Its range will be extended with the coupe (Giulia Sprint GT) and the famous Spider (1600 Spider “Duetto”). Designed by Pininfarina, the 1600 Spider with the Giulia mechanics is one of the most representative models. The car holds another record: it is the oldest of the Alfa Romeo, with 26 years of production. His resonance is worldwide with the movie “The Graduate” and Dustin Hoffman, making him famous in the United States.
The decline begins
The seventies were characterized by the collaboration between Alfa Romeo and the best Italian designers: Zagato, Pininfarina, or Bertone. This relationship gave its results in such renowned models as the Montreal, Alfasud, or the Alfetta.
In the mid-seventies, the decline began due to the 1973 oil crisis, which greatly affected the automobile sector. Fuel prices rose dramatically and, as a result, passenger car sales recorded a dramatic decline. These difficulties translate into substantial responsibility for updating older models and launching new vehicles.
The period between the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties was characterized by the presence, in the Alfa Romeo range of obsolete models, deteriorating the brand’s image, especially in the international arena. A turning point that temporarily improved the situation was 1983, with the new model that replaced the Alfasud, the Alfa Romeo 33. The firm found itself in a situation where it lacked the money to renew the range radically. Later, the management decided to launch a new flagship, the Alfa Romeo 90, which debuted in 1984 and replaced the Alfetta.
The light at the end of the tunnel came from the hand of the Alfa 75. Introduced in May 1985, the Alfa 75 is the latest rear-wheel-drive model. His style, along with his performance, was a great commercial success. The versions of the 75 continued until 1992 in a crescendo of aesthetic and technical evolutions. Thanks to the inclusion of Lancia in the Fiat group, the Alfa Romeo 164 was introduced in 1987, the new high-end salon that uses the same chassis used in the Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema, and Saab 9000
A breath of fresh air
The first model designed and developed in this decade was 155, which was introduced in 1992. Based on a platform used by the Fiat Tempra and Lancia Dedra, the 155 was not received with devotion by the Alfistas. The reasons for this: the questionable design, the engine derived from the Fiat group, or the abandonment of the rear-wheel drive, despite some fine mechanical solutions that characterized it as the technology of the Q4 all-wheel drive, derived from the Lancia Delta Integrale.
Shortly after, the models that replaced the Alfa 33, the 145, and the 146 were launched. 1995 was also the appearance of two models with historical names: the GTV and the Spider. The decisive year for Alfa Romeo, however, was in 1997, with the introduction of 156. The Alfa Romeo 156 replaced the 155 and marked a break with the Alfa’s of the past, marking the beginning of a new styling concept that applies to upcoming models. In 1998 production of the 164 ended, which was replaced by the new flagship of the house, the Alfa Romeo 166.
A new millennium
The new millennium for the House of the Biscione brought commercial prosperity. Models such as the Alfa 147, 159, GT, Brera, or Spider represent a great increase in sales for the firm. In 2007 came the debut of the 8C Competizione, marketed on a limited basis, with 500 copies sold. The car was a great success, and therefore the Fiat group decided to make a Spider version, which went into production in 2009. Once again, 500 units were produced. In 2008, the new MiTo was added to the list. Designed to increase sales, it is positioned below 147, with a dynamic and sporty image to attract young audiences to the snake brand.
In 2010, on the centenary of the house’s founding, Alfa Romeo revived the myth: the Giulietta, which replaced the Alfa 147. On the occasion of the centenary, there was also a rationalization of the range, with the disappearance of the GT, Brera, and Spider. In 2011, the Alfa Romeo 4C Concept was presented at the Geneva Motor Show. A beautiful coupé marked by a curved line and a lightweight thanks to materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum. This Alfa Romeo 4C began its series production in 2013.