June 24 will mark the 110th anniversary of the establishment of Alfa Romeo, one of the truly great names in the automotive industry
Automotive Daily recently sat down with Lozenzo Ardizio, curator of the Alfa Romeo museum, to discuss the anniversary and rich history of the brand. Founded in Milan, with the city’s crest forming part of the brand’s famous logo, Alfa Romeo is an important symbol to all of Italy, but especially so to those of the Lombardy region that has been devasted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Asked of the importance of this anniversary in this time, Lozenzo Ardizio explained, “Yes, it’s important that Alfa Romeo maintains a strong connection to the public in this time.”
To maintain this connection, Alfa Romeo has launched a comprehensive e-book that charts the history of the brand, along with a short video narrated by Lorenzo Ardizio. If you’ve even a small interest in the other red cars from Italy, we highly recommend both.
Hinting that Alfa Romeo has lived through both World Wars, the Great Depression and numerous other disruptive times, Ardizio explained, “Alfa Romeo has been through many bad periods, but every bad period is an opportunity.”
He then went on the chart the rise of Alfa Romeo as a motorsport powerhouse in the years between the two World Wars. Alfa Romeo made a name for itself at legendary races such as Le Mans, Mille Miglia and Targa Florio with drivers such as Tazio Nuvolari, Antonio Ascari and Enzo Ferrari. Nuvolari famously piloted the fearsome twin-engined Bimotore to 337km/h in 1935!
World War II interrupted the automotive and motorsport industries, but as Lorenzo Ardizio hinted, Alfa Romeo bounced back with total focus. In 1950, the first season of the Formula 1 World Championship, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 158 took 11 victories from 11 races, with Guiseppe Farina taking the title. Fangio won the title the following year with the Tipo 159.
In this special anniversary year, Alfa Romeo is keen to again welcome visitors to its museum, and the brand is confident that this will be the case by the anniversary on June 24. The museum houses around 280 cars from Alfa’s storied history.
“We aim to start and drive most of the cars in the collection at least once a year,” began Ardizio. “Around 65 percent of the collection is in perfect working condition. However, we’ve made the decision to maintain some of the cars, including some of the prototypes, in static condition.”
Beyond the main anniversary of the company, many Alfa Romeo models are celebrating their own anniversaries in 2020. One that stands out for us is the 50th anniversary of the V8-engined Montreal. In production from 1970-1974, the Montreal was named for the host city of the 1967 World Expo at which the concept car was first shown. The Montreal is referenced by the recently updated Giulia and Stevlio Quadrifoglio models that are available with the option of vivid metallic green hue that harks back to the classic 1970s sports car. The Montreal is also referenced within the e-book as Ralph Gilles, Head of Design, FCA, highlights it as one of his favourite cars from the vast, 110-year Alfa Romeo catalogue.
Automotive Daily will continue to highlight aspects of Alfa Romeo during this very important anniversary year.