Despite not enjoying the same level of fame as Ferrari or Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo has solidified its position in the pages of Italian automotive history. Discover here, 10 intriguing Alfa Romeo facts that might be unfamiliar to you.
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#1 Older than you thought
Officially, 1910 is recognized as the founding year of ALFA. However, its history can be traced back to a company named Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID), which was established in 1906. SAID was initiated by the Frenchman Alexandre Darracq in Naples. Nonetheless, Darracq soon realized that Naples was not the most suitable location for car production, leading to the choice of Milan as the new plant’s location. Subsequently, the investors in SAID, in collaboration with Darracq, established ALFA in 1910. Initially, the new company manufactured cars under the Darracq brand.
#2 Military Service in WWI
During World War I, the company shifted its production away from cars and instead focused on manufacturing military hardware, including aircraft engines, compressors, and generators that were based on their car engines. For devoted petrol enthusiasts, it might be challenging to envision the combination of luxury cars and generators, but this is indeed one of the intriguing Alfa Romeo facts.
#3 Nationalization and government control
In 1933, the company fell under the control of the Italian government due to the financial troubles of Nicola Romeo’s holding company (you can refer to this page for more information on Nicola Romeo). While under government ownership, Alfa Romeo forged strong connections with Benito Mussolini’s regime and began crafting custom vehicles for the affluent. Remarkably, even today, Alfa Romeo continues to supply government limousines for the Italian Prime Minister and other high-ranking bureaucrats.
#4 Alfa Romeo even produced small cars
This is a surprising twist in Alfa Romeo’s history. Renowned for its innovative and stylish designs, the company found itself compelled to manufacture compact cars and police vehicles during the 1960s. Consequently, numerous Alfa Romeo models became popular choices for the Italian police force, including the Alfa Romeo 33.
#5 Experimented with trucks and buses too
It may be difficult to envision an Alfa Romeo emblem adorning buses, trucks, or trolleybuses, but that’s precisely what the company ventured into during the 1930s. This business diversification expanded notably during World War II, when the company was tasked with manufacturing trucks for the Italian army. The production of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) continued until 1967. It’s quite a lengthy period to ponder whether Alfa Romeo wanted to specialize in car manufacturing or commercial vehicle production!
#6 A really weird logo
Alfa Romeo’s logo could arguably earn a trophy for its uniqueness if such awards existed. This distinctive emblem is, in fact, a combination of two historic symbols closely linked to its place of origin, the city of Milan. There are several theories explaining the peculiar yet unforgettable logo featuring a serpent devouring a human. For more in-depth information about the logo, you can explore further details here.
#7 Alfa Romeo factory was bombed in WWII
Like many industrial factories, the company’s plant was a target during the bombings of World War II. This led to substantial damage to the factory, with some machines being destroyed, including those used for manufacturing the badges installed on the vehicles. Consequently, the company had to adopt a minimalist single-color logo for an extended period.
#8 Alfa Romeo could have ended up in Ford’s portfolio
Here’s another of the lesser-known Alfa Romeo facts: The Italian brand could have become a part of Ford if Fiat hadn’t stepped in with an offer to acquire the struggling automaker completely in 1986. While Ford was interested in purchasing only a portion of Alfa Romeo, their offer was outbid by Fiat, which not only took over all the operations but also offered job security guarantees. Currently, Alfa Romeo, along with its traditional rivals Lancia and Maserati, is part of the same FCA group, and they collaborate on shared components to achieve cost advantages.
#9 Racing Heritage
Similar to many other Italian brands, Alfa Romeo has deep roots in the world of racing and even maintains a distinct logo for its racing vehicles. The Quadrifoglio logo, featuring a green four-leaf clover within a white triangle, has served as the symbol for Alfa Romeo’s racing cars since 1923.
#10 Connection with Ferrari
Due to its illustrious racing history, the company has played a significant role in the development of racing cars. The iconic Enzo Ferrari, who later founded his eponymous car company, initiated his career at Alfa Romeo and refined his skills there for an extended period. Alfa Romeo essentially served as a business incubator for Scuderia Ferrari.