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Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., also simply known as Alfa Romeo, is an Italian automobile manufacturer.

Alfa Romeo has been a part of Fiat SpA since 1986. The company was originally known as ALFA, which is an acronym for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (translated: Anonymous Lombard Automobile Factory).


The company that became Alfaa Romeo was founded as "Darracq Italiana" in 1907 by Cavaliere Ugo Stella, an aristocrat from Milan, in partnership with the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq. The firm initially produced Darracq cars in Naples, but after the partnership collapsed Stella and the other Italian co-investors moved production to an idle Darracq factory in the Milan suburb of Portello, and the company was renamed ALFA. The first non-Darracq car produced by company was the 1910 24 HP (named for the 24 horsepower it produced), designed by Giuseppe Merosi. Merosi would go on to design a series of new ALFA cars with more powerful engines (40-60 HP). ALFA also ventured into motor racing, drivers Franchini and Ronzoni competing in the 1911 Targa Florio with two 24 HP models. However, the onset of World War I halted automobile production at ALFA for three years.

1916 saw the company come under the direction of Neopolitan entrepreneur Nicola Romeo, who converted the factory to produce military hardware for the Italian and Allied war efforts. Munitions, aircraft engines and other components, compressors and generators based on the company's existing car engines, and heavy locomotives were produced in the factory during the war. When the war was over, Romeo took complete control of ALFA and car production resumed in 1919. In 1920, the name of the company was changed to Alfa Romeo with the Torpedo 20-30 HP becoming the first car to be badged as such. Giuseppe Merosi continued as head designer, and the company continued to produce solid road cars as well as successful race cars (including the 40-60 HP and the RL Targa Florio).

In 1923 Vittorio Jano was lured away from Fiat, partly thanks to the persuasion of a young Alfa racing driver named Enzo Ferrari, to replace Merosi as chief designer at Alfa Romeo. The first Alfa Romeo under Jano was the P2 Grand Prix car, which won Alfa Romeo the world championship in 1925. For Alfa road cars Jano developed a series of small-to-medium-displacement 4, 6, and 8 cylinder inline power plants based on the P2 unit that established the classic architecture of Alfa engines, with light alloy construction, hemispherical combustion chambers, centrally-located plugs, two rows of overhead valves per cylinder bank and dual overhead cams. Jano's designs proved to be both reliable and powerful.

1955 Alfa Romeo Ghia Speciale 1900CSS

In 1928 Nicola Romeo left, with Alfa going broke after defense contracts ended, and in 1933 Alfa Romeo was rescued by the government, which then had effective control. Alfa became an instrument of Mussolini's Italy, a national emblem. The Alfa factory was bombed during World War Two, and struggled to return to profitability after the war. The luxury vehicles were out. Smaller mass-produced vehicles began to be produced in Alfa's factories.

By the 1970s Alfa was again in financial trouble. The Italian government bowed out in 1986 as FIAT bought in, creating a new group, Alfa Lancia Spa, to manufacture Alfas and Lancias.

The History of the Alfa badge

In 1910 it was a draftsman named Romano Cattaneo who was given the job of coming up with a badge for a new Milan-based company A.L.F.A. This stood for, Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. The story goes that as he was waiting for a tram at the Piazza Castello terminus in Milan, he gained inspiration from the great Visconti family's red cross and serpent coat of arms emblazoned over the great door of Castello Sforzesco.

With the help of Giuseppe Merosi, a designer, Cattaneo's sketches incorporated both the City of Milan's emblem and that of the Visconti family in a circular motif, bordered by a dark blue metallic ring containing the inscription "ALFA" and "MILANO" separated by two Savoy dynasty knots.

Racing history

The badge on the front of an Alfa in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

Alfa Romeo 159 detail

Alfa Romeo 6C

1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia from the Ralph Lauren collection

Alfa Romeo scored many prestigious victories in the following categories: Formula 1, Prototypes, Touring and Fast Touring. Private drivers also entered some rally competitions, with fine results.

In 1923 Vittorio Jano was lured to Alfa from Fiat, designing the motors that gave Alfa racing success into the late 1930s. (When Alfa began to lose in the late 1930s Jano was promptly sacked.)

In the 1930s Tazio Nuvolari won the Mille Miglia in a 6C 1750, crossing the finishing line after having incredibly overtaken Achille Varzi without lights (at nighttime).

The 8C 2300 won the Le Mans 24 Hours from 1931 to 1934, with Alfa Romeo withdrawing from racing in 1933 when the Italian government took over, and the racing of Alfas was then taken up by Scuderia Ferrari as Alfa's outsourced team. (Enzo Ferrari drove for Alfa before he went on to manage the team, and after that went on to manufacture his own cars.) In 1935 Alfa Romeo won the German Grand Prix with Nuvolari. In 1938 Biondetti won the Mille Miglia in an 8C 2900B Corto Spyder, thereafter referred to as the "Mille Miglia" model.

In 1950 Nino Farina won the Formula One World Championship in a 158 with compressor, in 1951 Juan Manuel Fangio won while driving an Alfetta 159 (an evolution of the 158 with a two-stages compressor). Alfa-Romeo returned to Formula One in 1976, initially as an engine supplier to Brabham and then as a constructor from the middle of 1979 until the end of 1985. Alfa also supplied engines to the tiny Italian Osella team from 1983 to 1988. There was little success, although Brabham-Alfa took two victories in 1978.

The Tipo 33 dominated the Prototype category from 1967 to 1977, winning titles in 1975 and 1977.

Alfa in popular culture

In the 1960s Alfa Romeo became famous for its small cars and models specifically designed for the Italian police - "Panthers" and Carabinieri; among them the glorious Giulia TI and Giulia Super, or the 2600 Sprint GT, which acquired the expressive nickname of "Inseguimento" (this car is wrongly supposed to be the one that the famous Roman police marshal and unrivalled driver Armandino Spadafora brought down on the Spanish Steps in 1960 while following some robbers - it was actually a black Ferrari 250 GT/E).

Before being bought by Fiat, Alfa Romeo always had a daring commercial policy, constantly experimenting with new solutions and using them in its series production, even at the risk of losing market share. Alfa often used controversial and unorthodox styling too, which often challenged assumptions about styling.

In an English sales brochure:

The Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 SS - For the man who has everything, here is the car to keep him company. ... The price is GBP 2394.1.3 including tax. Expensive? Naturally! What else would you expect a hand-built Alfa to be?

It represented those makes of cars that permitted sporty driving on common roads, provided the driver was enthusiastic enough to appreciate their particular "sound".

In Italian the owner of an Alfa Romeo is an "Alfista", and a group of them are "Alfisti". Alfa Romeo is sometimes worshipped by its owners, and many models have become cultural symbols. There are many thriving Alfa Romeo owners clubs and Alfa Romeo Model Registers.

In 1967 the famous film "The Graduate" gave unforgettable worldwide celebrity to the "Spider" (best known by the Italian nickname of "Duetto", or as "Osso di Seppia" or Round-tail), and its unique shape. The Spider was designed by Pininfarina.

Return To The U.S.?

In 1995 Alfa Romeo ceased exporting cars to the U.S. They may return, however as the FAQ on Alfa's UK website says "The long-awaited return of Alfa Romeo to the United States market should take place by 2007, with a range of new models." The models expected to come first in the U.S. are the Alfa Romeo 159, the Brera, and the Spider, which were initially designed to pass US safety regulations.

Alfa Romeo's return to America has been confirmed on May 5 of 2006 by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. Alfa Romeos are to be sold through American Maserati dealerships, possibly as soon as late 2007.


Until the 1980s, Alfa Romeos, except for the Alfasud, were rear-wheel-drive. According to the current Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, in order to reap economies of scale, all new Alfa Romeo models will be made from the same basic platform (i.e., frame). Even Maserati will share components with some Alfas.1

Cloverleaf or Quadrifoglio badges denote variants of Alfa Romeo cars where the name denotes the high-end of the range in comfort and engine size, but previously denoted Alfa Romeo racing cars in the pre-Second-World-War era. The image first appeared in 1923 when Ugo Sivocci presented one prior to the start of the 14th Targa Florio as a good luck token to the team. This became the symbol of competition Alfas, denoting higher performance. Some modern Alfas wear a cloverleaf badge which is typically a green four leaf clover on a white background (Quadrifoglio Verde), but variants of blue on white have been recently observed as well.

The Alfettas of the early 1980s had models available sold as the "Silver Leaf" and "Gold Leaf" (Quadrifoglio Oro). These models were the top of the range. Badging was the Alfa Cloverleaf in either gold or silver to denote the specification level. The Gold Leaf model was also sold as the "159i" in some markets, the name in homage to the original 159.

The trim levels (option packages) offered today on the various nameplates (model lines) include the lusso, “luxury,” turismo, “touring,” and the GTA (gran tourismo alleggerita, “lightened grand touring”). The GTA package is offered in the 147 and 156 and includes a V-6 engine. In the past, Alfa Romeo offered a Sprint (from Italian sprinta, "tuned") trim level.

In the late 1960s, a number of European automobile manufacturers established facilities in South Africa to assemble right hand drive vehicles for the Commonwealth markets. Fiat and other Italian manufacturers established factories along with these other manufacturers in Uitenhage, outside of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

With the imposition of sanctions by western powers in the 1970s and 1980's, South Africa became self-sufficient, and in car production came to rely more and more on the products of the Uitenhage factories. In consequence, production levels increased, and many manufacturers including Alfa Romeo transferred all their right-hand drive production to Uitenhage.

Through the Apartheid years, Alfa Romeo became the only significant 'exotic sports-car' manufacturer able to provide South Africans with an affordable alternative to the German super saloons also being manufactured in Uitenhage.

Since then, all right-hand-drive production of Alfa Romeo (and most other European manufacturers) remains in Uitenhage - so that many RHD European cars are actually South African in origin.

An Alfa Romeo's serial number is identified by the first letter of the chassis number which is Z denoting place of manufacture (Z is the letter all Italian manufactured cars are given]), and the "AR" denoting the maufacturer- in this case, Alfa Romeo.

Product Gallery

Automotive Models

An exhibition celebrating 50 years of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta in Milan, 2004

Alfa Romeo Cars by Era
1950-1960 Alfa Romeo 1900
Alfa Romeo AR 51 The 'Matta' off road 4WD.
Alfa Romeo Disco Volante
Alfa Romeo Giulietta - 1.3 - Sprint Speciale
Alfa Romeo 2000
1960-1970 Alfa Romeo Giulia - Super 1600 - TI
Alfa Romeo TZ
Alfa Romeo GTA
Alfa Romeo Sprint GT (Veloce)
Alfa Romeo 2600

Alfa Romeo Spider
Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Alfa Romeo 1750

1970-1985 Alfa Romeo Montreal (1970–1977)
Alfa Romeo Alfasud (1972–1983)
Alfa Romeo Alfetta (1972–1984)
Alfa Romeo Sprint (1976–1989)
Alfa Romeo Alfa 6 (1979–1986)
1985-1995 Alfa Romeo GTV
Alfa Romeo GTV6
Alfa Romeo Arna (1983–1986)
Alfa Romeo 33 (1983–1994)
Alfa Romeo 90 (1984–1987)

Alfa Romeo 75 (1985–1992)
Alfa Romeo 164 (1987–1999)

1995-2000 Alfa Romeo SZ
Alfa Romeo GTV & Spider (1995–2006)
Alfa Romeo 145 (1995–2001)
Alfa Romeo 146 (1995–2001)
Alfa Romeo 155 (1992–1998)

Alfa Romeo 156 - GTA (1997–2005)
Alfa Romeo 166 (1999–present)

2000-2010 Alfa Romeo GT (2004–present)
Alfa Romeo 147 - GTA (2001–present)
Alfa Romeo 159 (2005–present)
Alfa Romeo Brera & Spider (2006–present)
Alfa Romeo 169 (Expected-2007)

Alfa Romeo 149 (Expected-2007)
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione (Expected-2007)
Alfa Romeo 189 (Expected-2007)
Alfa Romeo 169 (Expected-2007)
Alfa Romeo 149 (Expected-2007)
Alfa Romeo Junior (Expected-2007/2008)

2010-2020 Alfa Romeo 240
Alfa Romeo 250
Alfa Romeo 260
Alfa Romeo 280
Alfa Romeo Brera II

Automotive concepts

  • Alfa Romeo Nuvola - 1996 design unveiled in Paris
  • Alfa Romeo Carabo - 1968 design shown in Paris


Years Engine Cylindrates
1954–1994 Twin Cam 1290, 1570, 1750, 1779, 1962
1992–present TwinSpark 1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 2.0
1971–1995 Flat-4 1186, 1286, 1350, 1490, 1712
1979–2006 V6 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.2
2006–present GM based V6 3.2

See also

Grille 4c.jpg

The Fiat Group

Abarth | Alfa Romeo | Autobianchi | Fiat | Lancia | Innocenti | Maserati | Iveco | Chrysler | Dodge | Ram | Jeep

Prewar: 6C · 8C 2900

1950-1960: 1900 · AR 51 · 1900C Disco Volante · Giulietta · Giulietta Sprint Speciale · 2000

1960-1970: Giulia · Super 1600 · TI · TZ · TZ2 · GTA · Sprint GT (Veloce) · 2600 · Spider · 33 Stradale · 1750

1970-1985: Montreal · Alfasud · Alfetta · Sprint · Alfa 6

1985-1995: GTV · GTV6 · Arna · 33 · 90 · 75 · 164

1995-2000: SZ · GTV · Spider · 145 · 146 · 155 · 156 · 156 GTA

2000-2010:147 · 147 GTA · 8C Competizione · 8C Spider

Current Vehicles: GT · 159 · 159 GTA · Brera · Spider · 166 · Mi.To · Giulietta

Concept Vehicles: B.A.T. Cars · B.A.T. 5 · B.A.T. 7 · B.A.T. 9 · B.A.T. 11 · Nuvola Concept · Carabo Concept · P33 Roadster Concept · 33 Prototipo Speciale Concept · Iguana Concept · 33 Spider Cuneo Concept · Navajo Concept · Disco Volante 2005 Concept · Vola Concept · Schighera Concept · Mi.To GTA Concept · Diva Concept · 2uettottanta Concept · Pandion Concept · TZ3 Corsa Concept · 4C

Racing Vehicles:164 Procar

Nicola Romeo · Enzo Ferrari · A.L.F.A. · Alfa Romeo in motorsport

Cavaliere Ugo Stella Corporate website A brand of the Fiat group

External links


  1. "Saving Fiat," The Economist, December 3, 2005, p. 64, vol. 377.