Alfa Romeo began in 1910 as A.L.F.A. (or Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica di Automobili), growing out of the company Societa Italiana Automobili Daracq, the latter being the Italian offshoot of a French car company. The first cars were probably based on these French cars, but soon A.L.F.A. was producing it's own, designed by Giuseppe Merosi.
Production continued with three main models using engines of 2413cc (15/20), 4084cc (20/30) and 6082cc (40/60) capacity, but the financial situation was not healthy, and in 1915 the A.L.F.A. concern was taken over by Nicola Romeo. Production of cars stopped duing the war, replaced by more necessary items, but in 1918 production began of revised pre-war models, now called ALFA-ROMEO.
The first car desgned by the new Alfa Romeo was the G1 in 1920, a large touring car. With some engine modifications this became the G2 in 1921. In 1922 the RL series cars, with 3000 six cylinder push-rod OHV engines, were introduced, including the RLN (21/70hp) 'Normale', the RLT (22/70hp) 'Turismo', RLS and RLSS (22/90hp).They were followed the following year by the RM series models, a smaller version with 2000 four cylinder engines and RM, RMS 'Sport' and RMU 'Unificato' versions (15/50hp an 15/55hp). In all the above cars, the first number is the approximate horsepower, the second the approximate top speed. These cars were the last designed by Merosi.
The first car
1920 saw production of the very first car with the Alfa Romeo logo: the Torpedo 20-30 HP.
In 1923 Jano began working for Alfa Romeo, and his first design was the successful formula 1 car, the P2. Production cars soon followed, in 1927 began the production of the 6C 1500, designating a six cylinder 1500cc engine. Originally this was a sohc producing 44bhp, but dohc versions soon took over. These were both normally aspirated and supercharged, producing around 54 and 76 bhp respectively. In 1929 bigger 1750 versions were introduced, both in sohc (45bhp) and dohc (55bhp) form. Again a supercharged version was also available, producing 85bhp.
In 1931 Alfa Romeo released the new 2.3 litre supercharged straight eight engined 8C 2300. Three series were produced from 1931 to 1934. The racing cars of this type were known as Monza's after their first successes there. In 1934 the 6C 2300 was introduced. This was an all new design, unlike all Jano's previous designs which were traceable back to the P2. Also in the later 1930's were built the 8C 2900s, using detuned 2900 Monoposto engines. These were some of the fastest production cars in their day.
Jano was replaced at Alfa Romeo by Trevisan who developed the 6C 2300 into the 6C 2500. This latter continued in production (in ever smaller volumes) throughout the war, and afterwards. Production continued until in 1950 the new 1900 saloon was introduced. This car, designed by Satta, was the first 'assembly-line' Alfa Romeo and was powered by a four cylinder dohc 1900 engine with 80bhp or 93bhp with a double-choke carburettor. Various other 1900s were produced, including the 1900C Sprint, Berlina and 1900C Super Sprint. A jeep-like vehicle, the 1900M, was also produced, mainly for the military.
In 1954 appeared the first Giulietta, again designed by Satta. First available was the Giulietta Sprint with a 1290cc dohc engine, the Berlina (four door saloon) and Spider (cabriolet) appearing in the following year. The 1900 continued to be produced, and was revised to become the 2000 with a bored out engine and an extra 10bhp. The 2000 was available as a Berlina and a Spider. The 2600 was introduced in 1962 in Berlina, Spider and Sprint variants as the 'large' Alfa Romeo, and was actually the first production Alfa to use brake discs.
1963 saw the replacement of the Giulietta by the Giulia which used a 1570cc engine (larger version of the 1290cc Giulietta engine). Numerous variants of this were produced, some of the more famous being the Spider Duetto, the Giulia GTV, the GTA race car, the GT Junior and the Giulia Super.
The 1750 Saloon, GTV and Spider, in production from 1967, used a yet further enlargened engine and a stretched chassis and replaced the 2600. The Montreal World Exhibition in1967 also brought forth a new Alfa Romeo, the Montreal. This was a 2+2 car and used a 2600 V8 engine.
1969 saw the introduction of the Giulia 1600S saloon and the GT 1300 Junior Zagato and the following year most of the Alfa range was revised. The 1750 was replaced in 1971 by the 2000 (still directly derived from the 1290cc Giulietta engine!), available as a saloon, GTV and Spider Veloce.
1972 was a year of revolutionary change for Alfa Romeo with the introduction of the Alfasud, the first front-wheel drive Alfa, designed by Rodolfo Hruska and using a 1200 four cylinder horizontally opposed engine. In the same year the Alfetta was introduced, the most significant technical change being the move to a de Dion rear suspension and rear mounted transaxle containing clutch, gearbox and differential. This was joined in 1974 by the Alfetta GT, a coupe design by Giugiaro.
In 1976 the first diesel powered Alfa was introduced, the Giulia diesel. The Giulietta name was revived in 1977 for an Alfetta based car with 1300 and 1600 engines. The Alfetta continued with the 2000. A new top-of-the-range Alfa was introduced in 1979 in the shape of the Alfa 6. This used an all new 2492cc V6 engine producing 160bhp and a similar suspension layout to the Alfetta. A coupe version, the GTV6 was also introduced.