Alfa Romeo, also known as Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A, is a car maker based in Italy. It was founded as A.L.F.A in June 1910 in Milan, Italy, and its racing roots go back to 1911. Alfa Romeo has a worldwide reputation for building quality, high-priced sports cars. Between 1932-1986, Alfa Romeo was owned by the holding company Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale. In 1986, it was bought by Fiat, and in 2007, it became a part of Fiat Group Automobiles.
The company that is today called Alfa Romeo was originally called Societa Anomina Italiana Darracq, and it was founded in 1906 by a French auto firm, and had some investors from Italy. At the end of 1909, the Italian cars from Darracq weren’t selling well, so a new company called A.L.F.A. (Anomina Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) was started, in conjunction with Darracq. In 1910, a non-Darracq car was made, the 24 HP, and it was created by Giuseppe Merosi. Shortly thereafter, A.L.F.A started in racing, with two drivers entered into 1911′s Targa Florio. In the middle of 1915, A.L.F.A. came under the leadership of Nicola Romeo, who changed the factory over to the production of hardware for Italy’s war effort. In 1920, the company’s name was officially changed to Alfa Romeo, with the Torpedo 20-30 HP being the first car to bear the Alfa Romeo name.
Nicola Romeo left the company in 1928, and Alfa Romeo went bankrupt after the wartime contracts ended. At 1932′s end, the company was resurrected by the fascist government of Benito Mussolini, but struggled after WWII ended. Following the war, Alfa Romeo started mass producing smaller cars, rather than handcrafting luxury vehicles. In 1954, the twin cam engine was developed, to remain in production through 1995. During the 60s and 70s, Alfa Romeo made a variety of sports cars, through the government-run company Finmeccanica. Despite the government intervention, Alfa Romeo still struggled to make a profit, and the brand was sold to the Fiat Group in 1986.
Alfa Romeo has a long history of successful competition in motorsports, such as Formula One, Grand Prix, sportscar series, touring series, and road rallies. They’ve seen competition as a supplier of engines and a builder, as well as through works entries (under the Alfa Corse and Autodelta marques). Alfa Romeo’s first race car was manufactured in 1913, when the company was just three years old. Alfa won the first Grand Prix world championship in 1925, gaining a reputation in motorsports. Alfa Romeo also gave rise to the Scuderia Ferrari team (1929), when Enzo Ferrari worked for the company.
Alfa Romeo exported cars to the US until 1995, with the last model being the 164. The company returned to America in the beginning of May 2006, with a variety of new models such as the 8C Competizione. As of now, Chrysler and Alfa are in talks for Alfa to use some of Chrysler’s plants that had been shut down due to downsizing. Alfa Romeo has a long-standing reputation as a maker of sporty, but luxurious cars, and they continue to provide quality vehicles today.
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