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110 Years of Style and Performance: How Alfa Romeo Became an Italian Automotive Icon

Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ2 1960s

When you think about Italian culture, what comes to mind?

It’s undeniable that Italy has graced the world with outstanding cultural contributions. Choose any category and you’re likely to find them: culinary comforts, cinematic masterpieces, marvelous runway creations, and of course, excellence in automotive design. The passion for fast and beautiful cars runs deep in Italian culture where the pursuit of perfection has produced some of the most respected car brands in the world synonymous with craftsmanship, engineering, luxury and performance.

At the forefront of the Italian greats stands Alfa Romeo, a revolutionary automaker that has stood the test of time throughout its 110-year history of crafting beautiful performance vehicles. Since its inception in 1910, the Italian car manufacturer has built some of the world’s most stylish and enviable automobiles. 

The Beginnings

Alfa Romeo began on June 24, 1910, when a group of businessmen and entrepreneurs acquired shares of an Italian plant belonging to a French carmaker. The first plant sat on the outskirts of Milan, Italy, and they called the company “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili” —hence the acronym A.L.F.A.

Alfa Romeo Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili
Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (Courtesy Alfa Romeo)
1910 Alfa Romeo 24HP
1910 Alfa Romeo 24HP (Courtesy Alfa Romeo)

The car manufacturer’s first creation was the 24 HP. It was a 4.1-litre engine and reached a maximum speed of 100 km/h, which was considered fast for its time. However, it wasn’t until after World War I when the company really began to pick up speed.

Racing History

After coming under the leadership of a young Neapolitan entrepreneur named Nicola Romeo, the name was changed to Alfa Romeo. With numerous successful sport model vehicles, Nicola was determined to make a name for the company in the racing world – something Alfa Romeo soon did.

Throughout its racing history, Alfa Romeo became known for its green four-leaf clover good luck charm, the Quadrifoglio – which still graces high-performance Alfa Romeo models to this day – and was the brand behind numerous prestigious wins including: 11 Mille Miglias, 10 Targa Florios, 4 Le Mans, 5 World Championships, and 17 European Championships. From 1930 to 1938, future car builder Enzo Ferrari joined the company and dedicated himself to developing and managing Alfa Romeo’s winning racing team, including the legendary Tazio Nuvolario.

Alfa Romeo racing cars
Courtesy Alfa Romeo

Building on its success in the racing world, Alfa Romeo solidified its reputation as a premier auto company that could deliver luxury and timeless elegance without sacrificing innovative design and adrenaline-pumping performance. Some of its most notable early models included the Giulietta, Spider, and Berlina. The company found major success with the Giulia model, a vehicle which has evolved over the years and remains at the top of Alfa Romeo’s stable of vehicles. 

When it comes to their approach to automotive craftsmanship, Orazio Satta Puliga (Alfa Romeo’s Head of Design in 1946) put it best:

“Alfa Romeo is a particular way of living, of experiencing an automobile. The real essence of Alfa defies description. It can be compared to those irrational movements of the spirit that sometimes occur in man, and for which there is no logical explanation. We are in the realm of sensations, passions, things that have more to do with the heart than with the head.”

From its humble beginnings, Alfa Romeo has grown into a name that is admired around the world for its uncompromising commitment to quality, innovation, performance, and design. 

Alfa Romeo heritage logos
Courtesy Alfa Romeo

Celebrate with Alfa Romeo 

Few companies can boast a history that spans more than a century. Those that do are the result of an unwavering commitment to quality, design, and a passion for excellence. Now in its 110th year, Alfa Romeo continues to deliver vehicles that highlight Italian style and exceptional performance. 

Alfa Romeo logo
Courtesy Alfa Romeo

Among its lineup, the Alfa Romeo Giulia continues the legacy of race-inspired performance with an exhilarating driving experience wrapped up in a midsize sedan. While style and design may be the first things you notice when you get into the Giulia, one drive will show that this car is as practical as it is luxurious. The Giulia offers a suite of features that integrate seamlessly into the driver’s life, giving this car an edge over other luxury vehicles that may not be so considerate of their passengers. 

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (Courtesy Alfa Romeo)
Alfa Romeo clover leaf
Courtesy Alfa Romeo

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an SUV that blends the best of performance, style, and technology with the room for people and their belongings that an active life demands. The 4C Spider brings attributes reserved for the supercar class – such as a hand-laid, carbon fibre monocoque chassis combined with luxury details and masterful driving dynamics, punctuated by an unmistakably Alfa Romeo exhaust note.

2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (Courtesy Alfa Romeo)
2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider (Courtesy Alfa Romeo)
2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider (Courtesy Alfa Romeo)
2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Driving Console
2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider (Courtesy Alfa Romeo)

Today, Alfa Romeo forges the path ahead as a leader in automotive excellence by immersing the driver in an experience unlike any other. In a saturated and busy landscape where consumers are constantly pulled in every direction, it is more important than ever for brands to have a product customers can see themselves being a part of and, perhaps most importantly, be excited about. For Alfa Romeo, that has always been about a premium driving experience rooted in over a century of engineering innovation, passion, and artistry that Italians have become known for around the world.

Here in Canada, you can experience the rich history of Alfa Romeo by visiting a dealership near you. To celebrate the 110th anniversary, Alfa Romeo is inviting car enthusiasts and curious minds to get in the driver’s seat and take a test-drive either at the dealership or right from your driveway – an experience sure to give you a taste of luxury and performance you won’t soon forget. In addition, test drivers will receive a limited-edition poster (while quantities last) celebrating Alfa Romeo’s rich history and incredible legacy. Here’s to another 100+ years, Alfa Romeo.

Alfa Romeo 110 Anniversary Poster Design
Alfa Romeo Limited-Edition 110th Anniversary Poster