Herb Chambers Alfa Romeo of Boston History of Alfa Romeo

Explore the History of Alfa Romeo at Herb Chambers Alfa Romeo of Boston

With any luxury car manufacturer, you're sure to find a storied history with plenty of twists and turns throughout. Perhaps one of the most well-established and historic brands, Alfa Romeo has gone through many changes over the years and all of them have pushed it towards the top of the luxury world. Beginning in 1910, Alfa Romeo has been around for over a century and it has continually demonstrated why it should be the first choice for a luxury car and SUV options.


Starting from the Beginning with the Birth of a Legend

Even though the origins of the luxury manufacturer begin in 1906, the Alfa Romeo brand didn't come into its own until an Italian aristocrat named Ugo Stella acquired the shares of Societa Italiana Automobili Darraq, an Italian plant of a French carmaker. The first plant was located on the western outskirts of Milan and Ugo Stella changed the name of the plant to Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili or "ALFA".

With the first year came the first vehicle from Alfa designed by Giuseppe Merosi. It produced 24 horsepower with a single block 4.1-liter engine and managed to reach a top speed of 62 mph. Four years later, Merosi designed the Alfa Grand Prix. Presented as a competitive sports car, it was the first automobile to feature a twin spark ignition. This 4.5-liter, four-cylinder managed to hit a top speed of 87 mph.

A year later, due to World War I, Alfa couldn't convert its automobile manufacturing to match the needs at the time and the company was purchased by an electrical engineer by the name of Nicola Romeo. He branded the company as Alfa-Romeo Milan. Thanks in part to a prosperous time during the war, investors decided to take the company public in the winter of 1918 and came up with the name Alfa Romeo. So the luxury brand was born!

Growing with the Times

Alfa Romeo went into the 1920s embracing its racecar lifestyle and hit its stride when race car driver, Ugo Sivocci, managed to take first in the legendary Targa Florio race in Sicily. He painted a Quadrifoglio, a four-leaf clover, on the front of his Alfa Romeo RL and took the racing landscape by storm. Two other drivers took second and fourth while driving Alfa Romeo RL models and helped usher in the racing dominance that Alfa Romeo was about to enjoy. Unfortunately, Ugo Sivocci lost his life while test driving a new car that was not bearing his lucky four-leaf clover. This began a tradition that lives to this day where all Alfa Romeo models bear the four-leaf clover on a white triangle to honor his memory.

In 1928, after nearly a decade of elite racing status and memorable Alfa Romeo models, the company realized that its vehicles were becoming status symbols and they began to consider mass production of their models. The trend of top place finishes and record-breaking speeds would continue into the 1930s and things would take another shift in 1933 when Alfa Romeo was bought out by Italy's Institute for Industrial Reconstruction. Under the new director, the Alfa Romeo's racing tasks were shifted to the Ferrari team.

In 1939, Ugo Gobbato arranged for a new San Martino factory to be set up near Naples in Italy and thus helping to spread the influence of Alfa Romeo further.

Leadership Change and Evolution

In 1945, Ugo Gobbato was shot and killed for being wrongfully accused of collaborating with Germans and Italian fascists. With most Alfa Romeo factories destroyed during the Second World War, the company found itself in a difficult position until Orazio Satta Puliga took over as chief engineer and demilitarized the company. He was instrumental in relaunching Alfa Romeo once and for all.

Two new models were introduced in 1947: the Freccia d'Oro and the Concorso d'Eleganza. Both demonstrated sophistication and class and continued the trend of speedy race cars that Alfa Romeo was known for. Continuing into the 50s, the company thrived under Giuseppe Luraghi who would help to guide and grow the company well into the mid-1970s. He would also help to manufacture the Giuletta and other new models that would take the company to even greater heights. In 1961, the Giuletta proved to be a winner with 100,001 manufactured, a confirmation of Italy's love for this impressive car. In 1961, the Alfa Romeo Giulia was introduced. With clever design and a nod to Alfa Romeo's sports car love, this model would establish a toehold in the lineup that still exits to this dam, some 50-plus years later.

The 1970s proved that Alfa Romeo had firmly planted itself in all the big races with continued winning streaks and a demonstration of stronger and faster cars. Many owners would catch the Alfa Romeo "bug" and understand what it truly meant to be an enthusiast.

Designing Bigger and Better Ways to Drive

In 1986, Alfa Romeo was sold to the Fiat group and its design center was moved to Arese, near Milan in Italy. It would handle significant projects and continue to come up with more impressive models over the coming years. The late '80s and much of the '90s saw continued success on the race track and a push to produce faster models with better engines and style. In 1998, the Alfa Romeo 156 marked a new way of designing automobiles and was awarded the "Car of the Year" in Europe.

Moving into the 2000s, Alfa Romeo continued to showcase new designs and models that could have only been dreamt about decades earlier. 2015 brought the introduction of the 4C Coupe and 4C Spider models that would cater to loves of fast and stylish models all around the world. 2017 introduced the all-new Giulia Quadrifoglio which is both quintessentially Alfa Romeo and its own model, all at the same time. 2018 introduced the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the first foray into the SUV market that employed speed and style to match utility at its finest.

There's a lot to love about the Alfa Romeo lineup and it's easy to see that things are only going to continue to improve over the coming years. We're excited to see where the lineup goes from here and how its history will continue to demonstrate a willingness to beat the competition and improve upon performance.