In 1910, a Milanese aristocrat named Ugo Stella founded a company that was interested in the most groundbreaking technology of its day. This company was called the Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, which was usually referred to as “Alfa”, which, by a happy coincidence, is the Italian spelling of the first letter of the Grek alphabet, Alpha, indicating supremacy and dominance. The Alfa car company plunged into producing cars for the glamorous world of Italian motor racing. In 1916, a designer from Naples joined the Alfa team, which had by this time turned its attention to manufacturing goods for Italy’s WWI effort. This designer, Nicola Romeo, took over direction of the Alfa company, and in 1920, once the war was over, lent his name to the company as well. These were the glamorous beginnings of the Alfa Romeo car company.
Between the world wars, Alfa Romeo concentrated its attention on the racing world. During this stage in its life, Alfa Romeo boasted the services of a stylish racing driver, none other than the renowned Enzo Ferrari himself. Ferrari eventually left to form his own racing company.
In the build-up to World War II, the Alfa Romeo company nearly went under, but was rescued by the dictator Mussolini, who made the Alfa Romeo a matter of national pride. Alfa Romeo continued to produce luxury cars for wealthy Italians, staying true to its glamorous and aristocratic beginnings. Alfa Romeo were dealers to the rich and famous.
This glamorous epoch in Alfa Romeo’s history came to a close when the factory was bombed. In the post-war reconstruction phase, Alfa Romeo turned to more run-of-the mill cars, and introduced the Giulietta range, which boasted the 1.33 Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine. This engine design was popular and successful and remained in production until 1995 (in 2 litre form). You could say that Alfa Romeo’s relationship with the Giuletta was more lasting and successful than that of the famous star-crossed lovers with similar names, Romeo and Juliet.
After the 1950s, Alfa Romeo had various ups and downs, but continued to produce the stylish and sporty cars that make this marque so well loved by its fans. Alfa Romeo also continued its success story in the racing world. In 1986, the Alfa Romeo was bought out by Fiat and went on to new heights of success.
These days, Alfisti (the Italian name for Alfa Romeo enthusiasts) are found around the globe. In Australia, the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club is the largest single-marque clubs in Australia. This organisation has chapters in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, and holds an annual Alfa Romeo get-together over Easter, and has many other fun social and competitive events. If you are interested in this Alfa Romeo owners’ club, regular meetings are held in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and other centres. Information about these meetings can be found at certain Alfa Romeo dealers.
Alfa Romeo is a marque that speaks of glamour, high performance, racing pedigree and innovative style, from its beginnings to today.
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