20 interesting facts about Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo is more than just a vehicle. Every Alfa is a piece of art, which embodies the beauty and technological perfection of Italian design. The name Alfa Romeo stands out even among such famous automobile marques as Maserati, Ferrari or Lаmborghini. This famous Italian company has many aficionados and they often say that one who has driven the Alfa Romeo even once, will never look at other cars. Here is a brief review of the history of the magnificent Italian company in 20 facts.
1. The famous Italian automobile marque was founded by a French businessman Alexandre Darracq as an Italian division of his automobile company. The newly created company produced two types of vehicles, powered by one and two cylinder engines with an effective power of 8/10 and 14 h/p respectably. The company was named Societa Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID). However, this venture was not successful and in 1909 the car production was discontinued.
2. The same year, in 1909 the production facility was moved to the city of Milan in the northern Italian province of Lombardy. The company continued car manufacturing under the direction of Ugo Stella. In order to mark this change properly, the company was given a new name: Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (A.L.F.A.).
3. The famous Alfa Romeo logo was created the same year, in 1909. It became the essential symbol of the brand. Its design incorporated the symbols of the city of Milan: a green snake devouring a man and a red cross on the white background. With minor changes, it served as an official logo throughout the history of the famous Italian marque.
4. Alfa Romeo started motor racing almost immediately after it was founded. The Italian company is considered to be one of the most successful brands in the auto sport history for good reason: it has been involved with motor racing since 1911. The Alfa Romeo motorsports team debuted at Targa Florio race in 1911. The first racing models, built by the A.L.F.A., were quite advanced for their time: powered by 12 h/p or 24 h/p engines, they could reach the top speed of 100 km/h. The next generation of racing cars was represented by even better model, the Alfa Corsa, powered by a 15 h/p engine. This early successes became an important foundation for future greater victories in the most prestigious motorsports events, including the Formula One Grand Prix races, Indy Racing series, Touring circuit car racing and rallying.
5. Despite, the initial success of the company development was halted by an outbreak of World War I. The company was saved by a big businessman from Naples, Nicola Romeo, who bought A.L.F.A. and established the production of aircraft engines and other military-oriented products. Thanks to this change the company survived, and its name was changed to Alfa Romeo. In 1919, the company returned to the car manufacturing.
6. In 1923, a new constructor Vittorio Jano, an ex-employee of Fiat, joined Alfa Romeo. Five months later, the company produced the P2 – a two-man racing car, powered by an 8-cylinder engine. In 1925, this model won the World Cup for the Alfa Romeo racing team and became a legend. In 1925, the company released the Alfa Romeo 6C 1500, a new racing car, that was an improvement from the P2. In honor of Nicola Romeo the car was assigned a special “NR” emblem.
7. In 1929, a new racing team, called Scuderia Ferrari was created under the auspices of Alfa Romeo. The new racing team was leaded by none other than the famous Enzo Ferrari.
8. According to one of the automobile legends, the famous American industrialist Henry Ford was a big fan of Alfa Romeo marque. He removed his hat as a sign of respect for the brand, whenever he saw an Alfa on the street.
9. In 1939, Alfa Romeo was working on a new model, the 6С 2500. After the war, an upgraded version of this model was released as the famous Alfa Romeo Golden Arrow. The success of the new model enabled fast recovery after World War II. For instance, thanks to an excellent performance of his Alfa Romeo 6С 2500, an Italian auto racing driver Clemente Biondetti won the Mille Miglia race in 1947.
10. In 1949, the company launched a new model, the Alfa Romeo 1900. The small, affordable car with an integral body frame gained a cult following among automobile enthusiasts. Alfa Romeo line-up was further extended, when an ex-Porsche employee, Venetian Rudolf Hruska became the new engineering director of the company. Under his leadership, the company launched a new model, the Alfa Romeo Giulieta (this name was suggested by a poet Leonardo Sinisgalli). The main feature of the vehicle was a fully independent suspension.
11. 1950 was a great year for the motorsport, as it was the year of the first Formula One World Championship. Especially the fans of Alfa Romeo remember that year very good, as their favorite marque claimed victory at this prestigious competition
The year 1950 was marked by the first Formula One World Championship. The first Formula One World Championship was won by Alfa Romeo team in 1950. In the ’50s, Alfa Romeo moved to assembly line production. In 1961, the Italian automaker launched a new series of luxury cars, the Alfa Romeo 2600. This series of luxury vehicles was extremely popular among celebrities. Even the Pope owned an Alfa Romeo 2600. By the way, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States used to own an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider.
12. During the ’60s, Alfa Romeo opened production facilities in Brazil and Mexico. Those new factories focused on production of the Alfa Romeo 2000. At the same time, the company opened assembly factories in Spain and South Africa for production of Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Romeo van.
13. During a period of 1970 – 1976, Alfa Romeo racing team won prestigious 24-hour race seven times in a row.
14. Until 1980s, the Italian automaker produced only rear-wheel drive vehicles. The Alfa Romeo Alfasud was a rare exception.
15. The ’80s were a period of a decline for Alfa Romeo. The dire situation was partially saved by the Alfa Romeo Arna, created in cooperation with Nissan Automobili. However, this just was not enough and the famous Italian company still lost its financial independence. In 1986, Alfa Romeo became a part of the Italian automobile giant Fiat. However, Alfa Romeo was able to keep its traditions and unique technologies.
16. With financial support of Fiat, Alfa Romeo restored its former glory. The company was able to produce a few successful models. In 1997, the Alfa Romeo 156 gained the title “Car of the Year”.
17. In 2000, Alfa Romeo celebrated its 90th anniversary. In 2001 the Italian company presented its new prototype models, Alfa Romeo Sportwagon GTA and Alfa Romeo 156 GTA. The same year, in 2001 the Alfa Romeo 147 was awarded two prestigious awards, the Car of the Year and the Golden Steering Wheel, by the German magazine Bild am Sonntag.
18. Notably, famous Formula One drivers Michael Schumacher and Kimi Räikkönen prefer to drive Alfa Romeo vehicles in everyday life. Michael Schumacher owns an Alfa 159 and Sportwagon GTA. Kimi Räikkönen prefers a sports coupe Alfa Romeo Brera, which is considered by many “the most beautiful car in the world”.
19. Throughout its history, Alfa Romeo often changed its slogans according to the needs of market. But they always emphasized originality and sporty nature of the marque. Here are few examples: “The family car that wins races”, “Racing since 1911”, “The car you drive to work is a champion”, “Mediocrity is a sin”, “Driven by Passion”, “Without heart we would be mere machines”.
20. Alfa Romeo is one of a few classical automakers that continue to thrive after its 100th anniversary. Perhaps if Henry Ford was alive and saw the Alfa Romeo passing by, he would most certainly tip his hat. Alfa Romeo is the legendary brand that is still actively producing legendary vehicles.