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Alfa Romeo is history
By Fritz Burmeister
published October 2005
Anomina Lombarda Fabrica Automobili, abbreviated A.L.F.A., was a group of businessmen in Milano, Italy, who acquired a taxicab producing factory from Daracq- Italia, a joint venture between France and Italy. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century the group hired an experienced car designer and branched out into the production of other vehicles. The first ALFA appeared in 1910, a touring car. Subsequent models quickly gained popularity because ALFA cars were found to be of  high quality and reliability.  At the outbreak of WW I the Daracq-Italian partnership was dissolved and the ALFA factory was forced to participate in the war effort, producing munitions and military vehicles. Nicola Romeo, a professor of mathematics, bought the ALFA Company in 1915 and attached his sir name to the company name, which henceforth was called ALFA ROMEO.  With the new owner at the helm, the company lost no time to compete in the racecar market and in a few years time participated in the Grand Prix motor race. It seems that the company had found its niche, for in the following decades many victories were scored with Alfa Romeo cars such as the Formula One, Mille Miglia and Le Mans. One of their famous racecar drivers was Enzio Ferrari, (1898-1988). After he departed from racing, he retained a close affiliation with the carmaker by consulting and exchange of technical information, even after he had founded his own company.  But in spite of  Alfa’s success the big industrial crash of 1929 sent the company into government receivership and signor Romeo was removed from the company directorship. When WW II broke out, automobile production was again halted and could not be resumed after the war until the bombed out factory was replaced. Production of passenger cars resumed in 1950 and with the introduction of the Giulietta in 1954 a new era in the history of Alfa Romeo had begun. Since then a variety of models hit the market, from the conventional family sedan to the hand-made Giulia 1600 SS, for the man who has everything. Seeking new solutions in automobile manufacturing always remained a daring policy of the Italian carmaker, even to the point of losing a share in the market. Moreover, a joint venture with Nissan to bridge the widening of an economical gap ended in failure. This forced the Italian government to sell the company to Fiat in 1986.  Alfa Romeo car exports to the US came to a halt in 1995, although rumors circulate ever since that a special model could make an appearance in American showrooms again. Alfa Romeo had lost out to Japanese carmakers that constantly upgraded their products with extras and trinkets, which the Italians were unwilling to do. High priced quality automobiles need to present more than an illustrious past to compete on US markets.  For Alfa Romeo owners there is always hope that one day they may be able  replace their pride and joy with a brand new one. They console each other that this day may be here soon.





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