Alfa Romeo

THE ORIGINS OF ALFA ROMEO

Alfa Romeo is one of the great Italian car manufacturers, noted for the style, flair, and aerodynamic design of its cars. It was founded in 1906 by the French car maker Alexandre Darracq, together with Italian investors including the aristocratic Ugo Stella. Alexandre Darracq had in 1891 founded a Cycles Gladiator in Paris - one of dozens of firms making cycles during the great cycling craze which reached its peak in 1895. An 1895 art poster advertisement for Cycles Gladiator is pictured above. Alfa Romeo is one of the great Italian car manufacturers, noted for the style, flair, and aerodynamic design of its cars. It was founded in 1906 by the French car maker Alexandre Darracq, together with Italian investors including the aristocratic Ugo Stella. Alexandre Darracq had in 1891 founded a Cycles Gladiator in Paris - one of dozens of firms making cycles during the great cycling craze which reached its peak in 1895. An 1895 art poster advertisement for Cycles Gladiator is pictured above.

The name Alfa is an acronym for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. The Romeo part of the name was added in 1915 when the company came under the direction of Neapolitan entrepreneur Nicola Romeo. The company went bankrupt in 1932 and was rescued by the Italian government. The Alfa Romeo factory, which had been converted to aircraft engine production, was bombed during World War II, and struggled to return to profitability after the war. A mainstay of the company during the post-war period was the Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine, originally produced in 1300 cc capacity. It was eventually enlarged to 1962 cc, and remained in production until 1995.

In the 1970s Alfa Romeo was again in financial difficulty, and ownership was transferred from the Italian government to the Fiat group. 

ALFA ROMEO: THE EARLY HERITAGE



Throughout their history, Alfa Romeo cars have been notable for their lively performance and adventurous design. Their character and technology was much influenced by Alfa Romeo's success in motor racing in the late 1930s and the 1940s. During this period Alfa Romeo cars won most of the races for which they entered, including the Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. The image above is of Enzo Ferrari racing an Alfa Romeo in 1922. Enzo Ferrari parted company with Alfa Romeo in 1937 and went on to found the Ferrari company. He is pictured in later life at the right.



Guiseppe Campari, racing driver and opera singer, gave Alfa Romeo its first racing victory in 1920. He also won the French Grand Prix with Alfa Romeo's first Grand Prix car, the P2 which was designed by Vittorio Jano. Alfa's P3, introduced in 1932, was the first monoposto (oneseater) Grand Prix-car. The P3 was a very fast car in which champion drivers such as Nuvolari achieved many victories. Guiseppe Campari not being available, we present below in homage to him a rendering of 'O Sole Mio' by Luciano Pavarotti. Please click on the play button:


ALFA ROMEO: THE MODERN HERITAGE


After the Second World War, Alfa Romeo produced a wide range of small saloon cars. Their lively performance, which was inherited from the racing tradition of Alfa Romeo, commended them to the Italian police.
 


Alfa Romeo cars found their way all over the world. Customers included, improbably, Fidel Castro who is pictured above with his Alfa Romeo in Cuba. If you would like some Cuban background music, please click on the play button below:



 


The most popular classic Alfa Romeo car is the Alfa Romeo Spider, shown above. It famously featured in the 1967 film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.

The music for the film was written and sung by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, pictured on the right. To hear them singing 'Sounds of Silence', one of the songs from the film, please click on the play button below:
 

 


An Alfa Romeo Spider also featured in the 1971 film 'The Day of the Jackal' based on the thriller by Frederick Forsyth. The central figure, a professional killer hired to assassinate President de Gaulle, was played by Edward Fox. He is seen in his white Alfa Romeo Spider, on his way to Paris, in the picture above.
 

 

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This website is published by Alex Reid, 27 Millington Road, Cambridge CB3 9HW. Telephone: +44 1223 319733. Email: aalreid(at)gmail.com. It is an electronic scrap book, containing family life stories, casual articles, and family memorabilia.

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