Though Alfa Romeo has only recently renewed their presence in the United States, the company is founded upon a strong legacy of perseverance. With a history nearly as long as many other well-known automotive manufacturers, Alfa Romeo continues to offer customers beautifully-designed vehicles with unique accents and strong capabilities. From the Giulia and 4C to the Stelvio and 8C Competizione, the Italian car-maker’s lineup may be small, but don’t let the short list fool you. Alfa Romeo is serious about bringing customers a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a one-of-a-kind vehicle.
The “Alfa” in Alfa Romeo actually began as an acronym for the founding company “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” or A.L.F.A. Launched in 1910, the A.L.F.A. was a combination of the shares for Società Italiana Automobili Darracq and what was already owned by Italian aristocrat Ugo Stella. The company’s first plant was located in Milan, Italy, a geographical characteristic that made its way into the official name at one point.
The first automobile to sport the Alfa Romeo moniker was called the 24 HP and was designed by the company’s technical director, Giuseppe Merosi. With a single block engine capable of reaching speeds above 60 miles an hour, the 24 HP sported the beginnings of the brand’s proclivities towards a sleek design and capable powertrains.
Source: Alfa Romeo
Why is it called Alfa Romeo?
Though Alfa Romeo began with only the acronym A.L.F.A., the “Romeo” half first came on the scene in 1915, when Alfa was forced to restructure its facility to manufacture parts for WWI. Finding themselves financially lacking, Alfa was purchased by Nicola Romeo, who was a successful engineer buying up many other factories in order to produce airplane components. He renamed the company “Alfa-Romeo Milano.” After automotive production started up again in 1918, after the war’s end, the company sported the new name, “Alfa Romeo,” which has survived to this day.
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A Man-Eating Snake
There has been much controversy and speculation as to the meaning behind the images in the Alfa Romeo logo. Born along with the new company in 1910, the logo combines two well-known symbols of Milan: the Visconti serpent and the municipality’s cross. The words “ALFA MILANO” were printed around the symbols to designate the company and its headquarters.
In 1925, Alfa added a golden laurel crown, representing the firm’s victory in the first World Championship. The badge then changed again when the machines responsible for production were damaged. Red was the only color used.
According to an Alfa spokesperson, the red cross on a white background represents the town of Milan. Juxtaposed next to that is the infamous serpent image, which many consider to be eating the figure of a man. In fact, that symbol is from a legend dating back to the Crusades. Otone Visconti, head of the Visconti family, once fought a nomadic Saracen knight, and after achieving victory, Visconti incorporated his defeated foe’s symbols on his shield. While many assume the serpent is eating the man, it is said that the figure is actually emerging from the serpent, reborn.
What do you think? Is Alfa Romeo’s serpent chomping on the competition, or has the company defeated its demons and emerged to fight another day?
Rebecca Henderson is the published author and professional editor at The Kreativ Space. Best expressing herself through the written word, she enjoys the smell of burning rubber as well. Rebecca hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.