Mold & District Alfa Romeo Owners Club
Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A. (Italian pronunciation: ['alfa ro'mɛːo]), sometimes colloquially referred to as simply Alfa, is an Italian manufacturer of cars. Founded as A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) on June 24, 1910, in Milan the company has been involved in car racing since 1911, and has a reputation for building expensive sports cars. The company was owned by Italian state holding company Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale between 1932 and 1986, when it became a part of the Fiat Group and since February 2007 a part of Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A.
The company that became Alfa Romeo was founded as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq, with some Italian investors. In the late 1909, the Italian Darracq cars were selling slowly and a new company was founded named A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, English: Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company), initially still in partnership with Darracq. The first non-Darracq car produced by the company was the 1910 24 HP, designed by Giuseppe Merosi. A.L.F.A. ventured into motor racing, with drivers Franchini and Ronzoni competing in the 1911 Targa Florio with two 24 HP models. In August 1915 the company came under the direction of Neapolitan entrepreneur Nicola Romeo, who converted the factory to produce military hardware for the Italian and Allied war efforts. 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.In 1928 Nicola Romeo left, with Alfa going broke after defense contracts ended, and at the end of 1932 Alfa Romeo was rescued by Benito Mussolini’s government, which then had effective control. The Alfa factory struggled to return to profitability after the Second World War, and turned to mass-producing small vehicles rather than hand-building luxury models. In 1954 the company developed the classic Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine, which would remain in production until 1998. During the 1960s and 1970s Alfa Romeo produced a number of sporty cars, though the Italian government parent company, FinmeccanicaAlfa Romeo has competed successfully in many different categories of motorsport, including Grand Prix motor racing, Formula One, sportscar racing, touring car racing and rallies. They have competed both as a constructor and an engine supplier, via works entries (usually under the name Alfa Corse or Autodelta) and private entries. The first racing car was made in 1913, three years after the foundation of the company, and Alfa Romeo won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. The company gained a good name in motorsport, which gave a sporty image to the whole marque. Enzo Ferrari founded theScuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929 as an Alfa Romeo racing team, before becoming independent in 1939.
Foundation and early years
A 1908 Darracq 8/10 HP assembled by Alfa Romeo's predecessor, Darracq Italiana
The A.L.F.A 24 hp (this is with Castagnatorpedobody) was the first car made by Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili in 1910. The company that became Alfa Romeo was founded as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq, with some Italian investors. One of them, Cavaliere Ugo Stella, an aristocrat from Milan, became chairman of the SAID in 1909. The firm's initial location was in Naples, but even before the construction of the planned factory had started, Darracq decided late in 1906 that Milan would be a more suitable location and accordingly a tract of land was acquired in the Milan suburb of Portello, where a new factory of 6,700 square metres (8,000 sq yd) was erected. Late 1909, the Italian Darracq cars were selling slowly and Stella, with the other Italian co-investors, founded a new company named A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili), initially still in partnership with Darracq. The first non-Darracq car produced by the company was the 1910 24 HP, designed by Giuseppe Merosi, hired in 1909 for designing new cars more suitable to the Italian market. Merosi would go on to design a series of new A.L.F.A. cars, with more powerful engines (40-60 HP). A.L.F.A. ventured into motor racing, with drivers Franchini and Ronzoni competing in the 1911 Targa Florio with two 24 HP models. In 1914, an advanced Grand Prix car was designed and built, the GP1914, which featured a four-cylinder engine, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and twin ignition. However, the onset of the First World Warhalted automobile production at A.L.F.A. for three years. In August 1915 the company came under the direction of Neapolitan 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 were produced in a vastly enlarged factory during the war. When the war was over, Romeo invested his war profits in acquiring locomotive and railways carriage plants in Saronno (Costruzioni Meccaniche di Saronno), Rome (Officine Meccaniche di Roma) and Naples (Officine Ferroviarie Meridionali), which were added to his A.L.F.A. ownership.
Car production had not been considered at first, but resumed in 1919 since parts for the completion of 105 cars were still lying at the A.L.F.A. factory since 1915. 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. Their first success came in 1920 when Giuseppe Campari won at Mugello and continued with second place in the Targa Florio driven by Enzo Ferrari. 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 inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars 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.
Enzo Ferrari proved to be a better team manager than driver, and when the factory team was privatised, it then became Scuderia Ferrari. When Ferrari left Alfa Romeo, he went on to build his own cars. Tazio Nuvolari often drove for Alfa, winning many races prior to theSecond World War.8C 2900B Touring Spider (1937)
In 1928 Nicola Romeo left, with Alfa going broke after defense contracts ended, and at the end of 1932 Alfa Romeo was rescued by the government, which then had effective control. Alfa became an instrument of Mussolini's Italy, a national emblem. During this period Alfa Romeo built bespoke vehicles for the wealthy, with the bodies normally built by Touring of Milan or Pinin Farina. This was the era that peaked with the legendary Alfa Romeo 2900B Type 35racers. The Alfa factory (converted during wartime to the production of Macchi C.202 Folgore engines, this engine was the daimler-benz 600 series built under license) was bombed during the Second World War, 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 beginning with the 1954 model year, with the introduction of theGiulietta series of berline (saloons/sedans), coupes and open two-seaters. All three varieties shared what would become the classic Alfa Romeo overhead Twin Cam four-cylinder engine, initially in 1300 cc form. This engine would eventually be enlarged to 2 litres (2000 cc) and would remain in production until 1995
Once motor sports resumed after the Second World War, Alfa Romeo proved to be the car to beat in Grand Prix events. The introduction of the new formula (Formula One) for single-seat racing cars provided an ideal setting for Alfa Romeo's tipo 158 Alfetta, adapted from a pre-war voiturette, and Giuseppe Farina won the first Formula One World Championship in 1950 in the 158. Juan Manuel Fangio secured Alfa's second consecutive championship in 1951.
In 1952, Alfa-Romeo experimented with its first front-wheel drive compact car named "Project 13-61". It had the same transverse-mounted, forward-motor layout as the modern front-wheel drive automobile. Alfa-Romeo made a second attempt toward the late 1950s based on Project 13-61. It was to be called Tipo 103 and resembled the smaller version of its popular Alfa-Romeo Giulia. However, due to the financial difficulties in post-war Italy, the Tipo 103 never saw production. Had Alfa-Romeo succeeded in producing the Tipo 103, it would have preceded the Mini as the first "modern" front-wheel drive compact car.
During the 1960s, Alfa concentrated on competition using production-based cars, including the GTA (standing for Gran Turismo Allegerita), an aluminium-bodied version of the Bertone-designed coupe with a powerful twin-plug engine. Among other victories, the GTA won the inaugural Sports Car Club of America's Trans-Am championship in 1966. In the 1970s, Alfa concentrated on prototype sports car racing with the Tipo 33, with early victories in 1971. Eventually the Tipo 33TT12 gained the World Championship for Makes for Alfa Romeo in 1975 and the Tipo 33SC12 won the World Championship for Sports Cars in 1977.By the 1970s, Alfa was again in financial trouble and creative measures were attempted to shore up Alfa's flagging fortures, including an ultimately unsuccessful joint venture with Nissan endorsed by Ettore Massacesi of Alfa's parent company, the Italian-government owned Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) and Italian Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga. By 1986, IRI was suffering from heavy losses, and IRI president Romano Prodi put Alfa Romeo up for sale. Finmeccanica, the mechanical holdings arm of IRI and its predecessors owned Alfa Romeo since 1932. Prodi first approached fellow Italian manufacturer Fiat, who offered to start a joint venture with Alfa. Prodi was initially unsupportive of the venture, citing the strained industrial relations between Northern and Southern Italy, with Fiat being based in Turin and Alfa being based in Milano.Fiat withdrew its plan for a joint venture when Ford Motor Company put Alfa Romeo up for sale. Finmeccanica, the mechanical holdings arm of IRI and its predecessors owned Alfa Romeo since 1932. Prodi first approached fellow Italian manufacturer Fiat, who offered to start a joint venture with Alfa. Prodi was initially unsupportive of the venture, citing the strained industrial relations between Northern and Southern Italy, with Fiat being based in Turin and Alfa being based in Milano.Fiat withdrew its plan for a joint venture when Ford Motor Company put in an offer to acquire part of Alfa Romeo and restructure the company, while increasing its stake over time. However, Fiat put in a bid to acquire the entirety of Alfa Romeo and offer job guarantees to Italian workers, an offer that Ford was unwilling to match would keep Alfa Romeo in Italian hands. In 1986, the deal was concluded with Alfa Romeo being merged with traditional rival Lanciainto Fiat's Alfa Lancia Industriale S.p.A.Carabinieri and Italian governmentItalian State PoliceFlyingIt also did not hurt any of the parties involved that an acquisition by Fiat Squad "Panther" 1971 Alfa Giulia Super In the 1960s Alfa Romeo became famous for its small cars and models specifically designed for the Italian police and Carabinieri; among them the glorious "Giulia Super" or the 2600 Sprint GT, which acquired the expressive nickname of "Inseguimento" dir. trl. "to chase or predate" . The colours of the Alfa Romeos used by the Polizia were/is green/blue with white stripes and writing, known as "Pantera" (Panther), enhancing the aggressive look of the Alfa (particularly the Giulia series), while the Carabinieri Alfas were dark blue with white roofs and red stripes, known as the "Gazzella" (Gazelle) denoting the speed and agility of these "Pattuglie" (armed response patrol units). However, the term "Pantera" became used interchangeably and the image helped create a no-nonsense, determined and respected perception by the general public of the men that drove these cars, true to their history.Since then, Alfas remain the chosen mount of the Carabinieri (renowned arm of the Italian Armed Forces seconded only partly for civilian Policing purposes), Polizia Autostradale (Highway Police) and the conventional police service (Polizia). Successively, the following Alfa Romeo Berlinas have found favour for Italian Police and Government employment.
More to be added soon - info from Wikipedia