Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (A.L.F.A.) was founded on 24 June 1910 in Milan and renamed to Alfa Romeo in August 1915, when Nicola Romeo bought a majority of the company. For seven years, Alfa Romeo produced sophisticated cars like the Torpedo 20-30 HP, the 40-60 HP, and the RL Targa Florio. Nicola Romeo left the company in 1928, but Alfa Romeo kept his name and managed to survive, eventually being taken over by the Italian government.
Competition was an important part of the company's philosophy since the beginning. Giuseppe Campari's win at Mugello with the first Alfa Romeo model ever made, the Torpedo 20-30 HP, was succeeded by other spectacular results by other famous drivers like Enzo Ferrari, Antonio Ascari or Tazio Nuvolari.
The spectacular P2 Grand Prix car won the first world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. Remarkable racing cars from this period are the 6C Gran Sport (1931), the fabulous 8C (1931), and the legendary 12 C (1936). Above all sits the mythical 158, a car first designed in 1938, but which managed to dominate and win the first Formula One World Championships, in 1950 and 1951 (158 Alfetta). Its most successful driver was none other than Juan Manuel Fangio, that would end up winning the World Drivers' Championship five times.
After the war, the company produced several models that were a far cry from the former luxurious and racing vehicles, but still kept a sporty DNA. The Alfa Romeo 1900 was sold under the "The family car that wins races" slogan, while the Alfa Romeo Giulietta was first launched as a 2+2 coupé, and only afterward as a Berlina (sedan). The first true luxury car in the post-war timeline was the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 2000, launched in 1958.
Followed a series of legendary cars, as the Giulia (1962), the GTA (1965), the incredible Alfa Romeo Spider (1966), the mid-engined 33 Stradale (1967), or the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Montreal (1970). Unfortunately, the seventies were not good for Alfa Romeo. The horrible Alfasud (1972), the passable Alfetta (1972), and the problem-ridden Nuova Giulietta (Tipo 116, 1977) were just some examples of bad cars sold under a prestigious badge.
The joint-venture with Nissan did not help either, so, in 1986, Alfa Romeo was acquired by Fiat and merged with Lancia into Alfa Lancia Industriale S.p.A.
The 1990s saw a host of new and interesting models, like the Spider (1993), the GTV (1995), the 156 (1997, European Car of the Year in 1998) and the executive 166 (1998). Still, Alfa Romeo suffered from its fame as a problem-prone car manufacturer, and its business was never on par with the German premium automakers.
The 2000s brought better cars, like the Alfa Romeo 147 hatchback, the 159 sedan (2005), the superb 8C Competizione and 8C Spider or the exquisite Brera.
Alfa Romeo is currently on the offensive, with new models like the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan, the Stelvio SUV, the 4C coupé, the Giulietta compact hatch and the MiTo supermini. It still produces in small quantities (66,155 cars in 2016, compared with 157,794 in 2006), but its continuous improvement in quality didn't go unnoticed.