Alfa Romeo logotype.
In the summer of 1910, Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (A.L.F.A.) began business. The new companys badge was taken from the coat of arms of Milan where Alfa originated. Alfa Romeo has been a part of the Fiat Group since 1986.
The Early Years.
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 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 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. also ventured into motor racing, 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, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and twin ignition. However, the onset of World War I halted 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 1928 Nicola Romeo left, with Alfa going broke after defense contracts ended, and in the end of 1932 Alfa Romeo was rescued by the government.
During this period Alfa Romeo built bespoke vehicles for the wealthy, with the bodies normally built by Touring of Milan or PininFarina.
The Alfa factory (converted during wartime to the production of Macchi C.202 Folgore engines) was bombed during World War II, and struggled to return to profitability after the war.
In 1954, Alfa-Romeo had experimented with its first front-wheel drive compact car named "33".
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.
By the 1970s Alfa was again in financial trouble. The Italian government company Finmeccanica bowed out in 1986 as Fiat Group bought in, creating a new group, Alfa Lancia Industriale S.p.A., to manufacture Alfas and Lancias.
In 2005 Maserati was bought back from Ferrari and brought under Fiat's full control.
In the beginning of 2007, Fiat Auto S.p.A. was reorganizated and four new automobile companies were created; Fiat Automobiles S.p.A., Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., Lancia Automobiles S.p.A. and Fiat Light Commercial Vehicles S.p.A. These companies are fully owned by Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A.
The history of the Alfa Romeo badge.
In 1910 a draughtsman named Romano Cattaneo was given the job of coming up with a badge for a new Milan-based company, ALFA. The story goes that as he was waiting for a train at the Piazza Castello terminus in Milan, he gained inspiration from the great Visconti family's red cross and biscione (human child-eating serpent) coat of arms emblazoned over the great door of Castello Sforzesco.
In 1918 after the company was purchased by Nicola Romeo, the badge was redesigned with the help of Giuseppe Merosi, including now the City of Milan's emblem and that of the Visconti family in a circular motif, bordered by a dark blue metallic ring containing the inscription "ALFA — ROMEO" and "MILANO" separated by two Savoy dynasty knots to honour the Kingdom of Italy.
After the victory of the P2 in the inaugural Automobile World Championship in 1925, Alfa added a laurel wreath around the logo.
In 1946 after the victory of the Italian Republic Savoy knots were replaced with two curvy lines.
The name "MILANO", the hyphen and the Savoy knots (lines) were eliminated when Alfa Romeo opened the factory at Pomigliano d'Arco, Naples in early 1970s.
(text source: Wikipedia)
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