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History of Alfa Romeo

The Italian brand based in Turin has become widely known for producing exciting performance cars over the last 100 years. Today many will recognise their fast saloon and sports cars but what sets the company apart is their deep roots in racing. Alfa Romeo created some wonderful cars that have proved themselves on roads and racetracks alike. Through the years they experienced many hardships yet still managed to attract skilled drivers to their cars and perform well in race events. By staying true to their racing pedigree they were able to strengthen the brand to become the fiery Italian manufacturer it is today. 

The Founding

Turning the clocks right back to 24th June 1910, a small group of business professionals took the reigns over the Italian car company Darracq. At this time it was re-branded as Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (ALFA).

With a new company formed, they released their first car the “24 HP’. The car was superior to its current competitors in build quality and outright performance, as a result it was a huge hit. Over the next year it performed well in the Targa Florio race but due to a slight driver mishap it had to withdraw. This would be the first of many racing events their cars would gain attention in.

Early Troubles

World War One placed severe stresses on the company as resources became scarce. By December 1915 an engineer named Nicola Romeo took over operations to focus on the war effort. At this time their main production was shifted to aircraft engines, compressors and ammunition.

Once peacetime came about, the company explored new markets in agriculture to promote growth. However, their development of cars was not neglected as they released the Torpedo “20-30 HP” during 1920. This was to be the first car to come under the new company name of Alfa Romeo.

By 1921 the post-war conditions had caused the collapse of the Alfa Romeo Company. Fortunately they were saved by support from the government, new models such as the “RL” continued to fuel the company through this time.

The Wall Street Crash triggered an economic crisis in Italy during 1929. This heavily constricted the company until 1933 when the Italian State’s Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI) was forced to support the company.

Pressure and Growth

By 1941 World War 2 was underway and the company was again distracted by war efforts, even whilst suffering from bomb raids. Nevertheless, the company and its high engineering standards survived. After the war they focused on rebuilding their facilities and their community with cookers, fittings and furniture.

During the 1960’s there was a bubble of opportunity. Since Italy had recently hosted the Olympics Games the country’s economy was flourishing. Alfa Romeo predicted a rise in demand for cars so they grasped at the chance to provide. The company grew and expanded through new manufacturing plants and prototype testing tracks.

By the 1970’s the company was experiencing financial hardship once more. Their current plans were failing them and the state put the company up for sale in 1986. Fortunately it was snapped up by Fiat who guaranteed the worker’s jobs and production to continue.

Recent Developments

The 1990’s became a period of great success for Alfa Romeo in both racing and car production. Their engine technology underwent refinement and many new interesting models were cranked out. Engineering re-defined along side vehicle styling. Many of the now iconic models were released and even won Car of the Year awards. This included the “156” saloon award in 1998 and “157” in 2001.

From 2000 onwards Alfa Romeos revamped its ranges with newer styling, greater performance and even 4-wheel drive systems. The company has released some really quite special models too, such as the limited edition “8C” coupe in 2007 (only 500 made).

In 2008 the modern iconic Mito was introduced. The new compact sports car broke the mould with daring Italian style and high performance, yet still maximising fuel economy. 2009 saw further development of the Mito including multiple engine options.

2010 marked the 100th birthday celebration of the company, with that it showed the world its promising new prototype “4C”. By 2011 the “4C” ultra light supercar was released. Brimming with new technology and performance focus it still weighs in at under 850Kg!


ALFA ROMEO  13/02/2015 11:56:15

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