French manufacturer Darracq opens the Societa Italiana Automobili Darracq factory outside Milan. The venture failed and in 1910 it is bought by an Italian consortium and renamed Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili or A.L.F.A. for short.
Motor racing is flourishing and car makers use racing for promotion. In 1911, ALFA enters its 24HP model in the Targa Florio road race. Powered by a 4.0-litre four, the 24HP could hit 100km/h and it sets the fastest lap before being retired. In 1913, a 6.0-litre 40-60HP Corsa ALFA wins its class in its first race.
Italian businessman Nicola Romeo (left) purchases a controlling interest in A.L.F.A. in 1915. Five years later his name is added to sign outside the factory and Alfa Romeo is born. That same year Enzo Ferrari becomes a works driver and later race team manager for Alfa Romeo before forming his own team in 1939.
Overseas Motors – the first Alfa Romeo dealership outside Italy – is opened in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, in 1922 by the Nicholas family (of Aspro fame), importing luxury 20-30 ‘Torpedo’, G1, and RL models.
The ‘quadrifoglio’ badge denotes Alfa Romeo performance cars. Ugo Sirocci uses the good luck symbol on his Alfa RL and wins the 1923 Targa Florio. Sirocci is killed a year later in a car without this lucky charm. Since then Alfa Romeo has used the quadrifoglio.
Alfa Romeo dominates Grand Prix racing in the mid-20s with the Vittorio Jano-designed P2 (right). The supercharged, straight-eight powered ‘monoposto’ wins the inaugural Automobile World Championship in 1925.
Racing success continues with the straight-six-powered 6C 1750, which is built between 1929-33 in two and four-door configurations with bodywork by coachbuilders like Zagato and Touring. In 1929, 6C 1750s win every major race Alfa Romeo enters, including grands prix and the treacherous 1000km Mille Miglia road race.
Alfa Romeo’s success in Italy’s famous road races continues into the 1930s, with various 8C 2300, 8C 2600 and 8C 2900 sports cars winning the Mille Miglia endurance classic from 1932-38, while 8C 2300s win four consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours from 1931-34.
The 1939 Australian Grand Prix is held at Lobethal in South Australia on a 14km circuit on country roads. It’s a handicap event and Jack Saywell, starting from scratch (11min 30sec behind the eventual winner) finishes sixth in a 2.9-litre P3.
Production resumes after WWII and the first car off the line is the 6C 2500 Sport ‘Freccia d’Oro’ (Golden Arrow). Fast and stylish, the 155km/h saloon was said to be favoured by the Mafia.
Alfa Romeo dominates the new Formula One World Championship with its 1.5-litre 158/159 racers (above). The Alfettas (little Alfas) are so good Farina and Fangio win every race in 1950. Farina wins the 1950 championship, Fangio in ’51.
Alfa Romeo kicks off the ‘50s with a new design style exemplified by the Disco Volante (Flying Saucer) in 1952. The curvaceous Disco Volante does not go into production but its design influences the Giulietta, the first car to be given a person’s name. Launched as the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 in 1954, the Bertone-designed coupe is an immediate hit and is Alfa’s first 1.3-litre road car.
Styling changed again with the launch of one of Alfa Romeo’s most iconic models, the angular Giulia sedan. It is the first Alfa with a five-speed gearbox and spawns the Giulia Sprint GT coupe and the 1600 Spider ‘Duetto’ convertible.
One of the most desirable ‘modern’ Alfas ever, the beautiful Bertone-styled Giulia GTA is launched in 1965 and produced until 1969. Based on a shortened Giulia Berlina floorpan, the GTA – the A stood for Alleggerita, or lightened – is powered by either 1600 or 1300cc engines and could be bought in street (Stradale) or racing (Corsa) specification. A GTA raced by Andrea de Adamich wins the 1966 European Touring Car Championship.
Kevin Bartlett racing an Alec Mildren Racing-entered GTA (right) wins his class and is third outright in the onerace Australian Touring Car Championship at Bathurst
Bartlett is fourth in another single-race ATCC held at Lakeside in Queensland, and Doug Chivas/ Max Stewart and Bartlett/Laurie Stewart are third and fourth outright and class leaders in the Gallaher 500 at Bathurst in a Mildren Racing 1600 GTVs.
The 1750 Berlina supersedes the Giulia featuring revised styling by Giorgetto Giugiaro, a 1.8-litre four, and longer wheelbase. In 1971, the 2.0-litre 2000 Berlina replaces the 1750 and Bartlett/Chivas are fourth outright in the Hardie-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst.
Ray Gulson and David Crowther in a 2000 GTV continue Alfa Romeo’s run of good results in Australia’s toughest and most prestigious race, winning their class and finishing ninth outright against V8 Australian touring cars in the Hardie-Ferodo 1000.
Christine Gibson (nee Cole) is fifth in the Australian Touring Car Championship in a 2000 GTV entered by Alfa Romeo Dealers Australia (leading above). French woman Marie-Claude Beaumont and John Leffler win Class B and finish sixth in the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst in a 2000 TV.
The wedge-shaped Giulietta heralds another new styling language that will take Alfa Romeo into the ’80s. Reviving the famous Giulietta badge, the aerodynamic new model is distinguished by its short boot.
Alfa Romeo enters a current 179 F1 car in the non-championship Australian Grand Prix at Calder Park. The 179 and World Champion Alan Jones’ Williams- Ford are the only Formula One cars in a mixed field. Alfa driver Bruno Giacomelli finishes second, one lap behind Jones.
Designed by Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, the new medium-sized Alfa 33 replaces the groundbreaking FWD Alfasud, on which it is based. Nearly one million 33s are built between 1983-95.
Celebrating Alfa Romeo’s 75th anniversary, the 75 is Australia’s last rear-drive Alfa until the new 4C sports car in 2015. It replaces the Giulietta and continues the wedge styling theme. The 75 is renowned for its almost 50/50 weight balance, achieved by using a rear-mounted transaxle.
Colin Bond finishes ninth in the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship in a 75 Turbo (right), and Alfa Romeo goes off road with Greg Carr who wins the Australian Rally Championship in a GTV6 in 1987.
The 155 replaces the 75 and ushers in a new FWD era for Alfa Romeo. Larger than the 75, the 155 is very aerodynamic which helped in motorsport, and 155 GTAs win the Italian (’92), Spanish (’94) and British (’94) Super Touring championships.
Curves return with the Alfa 156 and Selespeed – a raceinspired five-speed sequential transmission – enters the Alfa lexicon. A range of four and sixcylinder petrol engines and four and five-cylinder diesel engines are available for the 156.
Eighty years after the creation of the Alfa Romeo brand, a new car for the new millennium, the 147 hatchback, is launched and wins European Car of the Year in 2001. The 147 is available with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines and Selespeed autos. A hot 3.2-litre V6 GTA version is released in 2002.
Fifty years after the classic Giulietta Spider convertible debuted, Alfa Romeo reveals a new Spider sports car at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Powered by a 191kW 3.2-litre V6 or 136kW 2.2-litre four, the new Spider also features the new Q-Tronic six-speed, semi-automatic transmission.
The MiTo hatchback arrives featuring Alfa’s DNA system with selectable Dynamic, Normal and All-Weather driving modes. DNA adjusts engine, steering, brakes, suspension and transmission to suit different driving conditions.
The exciting Alfa 4C lands on Australian shores. Like a minisupercar, the high-tech midengined coupe weighs just 1025kg and is powered by a 177kW turbocharged 1.7-litre four, with a six-speed TCT dual-clutch transmission. The 4C can rocket from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. In 2011, the 147 was replaced by
The platform for the stunning new Giulia Quadrifoglio is also the basis for Alfa Romeo’s first crossover car, the equally dynamic Stevio SUV. Stelvio is the first of two SUVs to be based on the Giulia’s ‘Giorgio’ architecture and packs Giulia’s 375kW, twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6, eight-speed transmission and the Q4 all-wheel drive system.