A symbol of status for drivers across the Europe, the Alfa Romeo is best known for mixing style and speed. Such qualities are highly sought after by drivers everywhere and these are what makes Alfa Romeo stand out from its rivals on the road. The Alfa Romeo has an illustrious history that dates back to as far as 1910 and was acquired by the prestigious Fiat Group in 1986.
Italian aristocrat Cavaliere Ugo Stella and company partner Alexandre Darracq launched the car company as Societa Anonima Italiana Darracq. The first batch of cars were produced in Naples and eventually moved to a production site in Portello, Millan.
The company was renamed Aonina Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili or ALFA. The first major model of ALFA was the 24 HP engineered by Giuseppe Merosi. ALFA produced more popular cars over the next few years, but its operations were halted for three years when World War 1 erupted.
The year 1916 was crucial for Alfa as it was taken over by Neopolitan businessman Nicola Romeo. The new owner prioritized in diversifying the product line of the company and ventured in manufacturing train parts, generators and compressors. However, the core business of manufacturing cars was still well taken care of. The first car bearing the Alfa Romeo badge was the Torpedo 20-30 HP, which was also engineered by Mr Merosi.
However, Merosi's tenure as lead designer in Alfa Romeo ended when Vittori Jano was head-hunted from Fiat, partly due to the overtures made by Alfa racing driver Enzo Ferrari. Alfa Romeo was active in establishing and developing racing and even won the first Grand Prix world championships in for cars in 1925. Over the decades, Alfa Romeo has remained an integral participant in car racing all over the world.
Alfa Romeo has been a favourite among a subculture of small car enthusiasts. Even the Italian police did not escape the buzz of Alfa Romeo, as there have been models specifically designed to protect the law. Such vehicles include the Carabineri, Panthersan and the 2600 Sprint GT.
What has made Alfa Romeo very appealing to consumers was its penchant of using unorthodox designs in order to make its vehicles stand out in the market and always test the limits of creativity. However, Alfa Romeo's knack for risk taking somewhat was curbed with Fiat SpA, acquired it in 1986. However, the parent company has focused on retaining the uniqueness of the brand by keeping the models as cutting edge as possible.
Italian drivers that own an Alfa Romeo are known as "Alfista", while groups are tagged as "Alfisti". However, despite being a favourite in Europe, Alfa Romeo has failed to make significant inroads in the United States. The car company ceased export to the US in 1995 with the 164 being the last model shipped. However, various reports have circulated that Alfa Romeo will make a comeback in the US with the release of new models that are specially designed to appeal with American drivers.
Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has said that the 8C Competizione will be the first Alfa Romeo model to hit the US market in nearly two decades. With a colourful history and continued emphasis on creativity and quality, the Alfa Romeo will remain a force in the car industry and highways in future years.
Original Authors: Manny
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 21/05/2007