Alfa Romeo was founded 110 years ago today and you can join a socially-distanced celebration online, live from the Arese Museum (below) from 10:30 a.m. ET / 7.30 a.m. PT.
An Alfa engine was first fitted to an aircraft as early as 1910, but it took until 1932 for the company to design its first purpose-built aero engine. The 240 hp nine-cylinder radial D2 motor was fitted to a Caprioni 101 and marked the start of an aviation arm that would go on to produce Italy’s first turbine engine. Alfa Romeo Avio was eventually sold to Aeritalia in 1988.
1929 saw Alfa Romeo build its first marine engine and the company’s 2.5-liter 6C motor was marinized to full effect during World War II, powering Italian torpedo boats. After the war some of these engines found their way into more pleasant packages—including a rather lovely mahogany hydroplane.
Alfa made its first truck in 1931—the 50 Biscione. It made light commercial vehicles from 1954, and the particularly stylish Autotutto (above) continued to be built until 1983. Alfa also made buses and electric trolleybuses for Milan and other Italian cities until the mid-’60s.
In 1983 Nissan and Alfa Romeo teamed up to make the utterly forgettable Arna. Instead of taking beautiful Italian styling and marrying it to reliable Japanese underpinnings, the reverse was done. The Arna was based on the Nissan Pulsar, but Alfa installed the engine and running gear from the Alfasud. It was a boxy, badly-made, unreliable disaster.
Here’s to 110 more years, Alfa!