Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A. (Alfa Romeo) is an Italian automotive brand founded in 1910 in Milan Italy as "Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili" (Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company), acronym A.L.F.A., but with roots in Societa Anonima Italiana Darracq, the 1906 Italian plant of a French car maker. The logo have two symbols, the cross and the serpent, both tied to the city of Milan.
Alfa Romeo has been involved in racing since the start in 1910 and has also produced military equipment and commercial vehicles. The 1914 Grand Prix car had a 4.5 liter engine with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and dual ignition.
The name was changed from Alfa to Alfa Romeo in 1915 when industrialist Nicola Romeo acquired the company at the outset of World War I. The first car with the Alfa Romeo badge was produced in 1920, after the end of the war and in the same year Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Ferrari car brand, joined Alfa Romeo. The first small car, the 6C 1500, was produced in 1927. The 8C 2300 car fitted with a 2.3 liter V8 was a world first to use an alloy block with steel liners and an alloy head in 1931.
Alfa Romeo became part of I.R.I. (Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale - Industrial Reconstruction Institute), a government holding company set up to resque failing firms and provide fresh capital, in 1933 and Enzo Ferrari's Scuderia Ferrari team took over the racing activities for Alfa Romeo.
The Alfa plant produced among other items air craft engines during World War II, but resumed vehicle production in 1945. Alfa Romeo won its first Formula 1 World Cup championship in 1950. The Giulietta, a compact two door coupe and convertible, was introduced in 1954. Through Autodelta racing team, Alfa Romeo returned to car racing with it's own team in 1963, instead of just supplying cars to outside teams.
The 1600 Spider, designed by Pininfarina, was introduced in 1966. Through its 4 generations it were in production until 1993. The Alfetta, a compact car with a front engine and rear gearbox, transaxle, were introduced in 1972.
Alfa Romeo became part of Fiat in 1986 and the last Alfa Romeo's were sold in the US in 1995. Alfa Romeo are returning to the US market in mid 2014 with the Alfa Romeo 4C, a lightweight high performance turbocharged 4-cylinder, 2-door, 2-seater with a body made of aluminum and carbon fiber.