Car History 4U

History of Italian Motor Car / Automobile Manufacturers

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8.10 Italy

  • 8.10.1. Alfa Romeo
    • The company started out in 1906 in partnership with Alexandre Darracq’s French car firm and produced Darracq cars.
    • By 1910 the parnership had ceased and the company was renamed ALFA (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili). The first cars were the 24 HP (1910-20), 12 HP (1910-11), 15 HP (1911-20) and the 40-60 HP (1913-20).
    • At the end of World War 1 in 1918 Nicola Romeo was in full control of ALFA. In 1920 the company was renamed “Alfa Romeo”. The first car to carry the name was the Torpedo 20-30 HP.
    • During the 1930s the company built expensive luxury cars and very successful racing cars, including the 8C 2900 Mille Miglia. Mille Miglia
    • Production of the 2,443 cc 6C2500 model was  started in 1939, with only just over 1,500 made up to 1952.
    • Between 1950 and 1990 the company produced about 28 different models, including the 1,570 cc Giulia from 1962 to 1978 and the top selling front-wheel drive Alfasud, with more than 1 million  made between 1972 and 1987.
    • Models produced since the late 1990s include the 147, 159 166, Brera and Spider.
  • 8.10.2. Bugatti
  • 8.10.3. Ferrari
    • Enzo Ferrari founded “Scuderia Ferrari” in 1929 to sponsor and manage racing drivers. At one stage he managed over forty drivers, most racing in Alfa Romeo cars.
    • Note: “Scuderia Ferrari” translates as “Ferrari Stable”.  
    • In 1938 Alfa Romeo appointed Enzo Ferrari as manager of Alfa Corse, their  factory racing division.
    • The following year, in 1939, he left Alfa Romeo but he was not allowed to use his Ferrari name on cars for four years.
    • In 1939 he formed Auto Avio Costruzioni (AAC) Ferrari.
    • The first car designed and buit by Enzo Ferrari was the AAC Tipo 815 but, because of the agreement with Alfa Romeo, the car could not be called a Ferrari.
    • Two of the eight cylinder, 1.5 litre cars were produced and raced in 1940.
    • In 1946 the “Ferrari S.p.A” company was formed. The first car to bear the Ferrari name was the 125S racing car. Two were built in 1947.
    • The first “street legal” car to bear the Ferrari name was the 166 Inter model that was produced from 1949 to 1951. Thirty-seven of these 2 litre, front engined, GT sports cars were made.

      Ferrari 166
    • The 166 model was replaced in 1950 by the 2,341 cc 195 Inter.
    • Scuderia Ferrari first started Formula One racing in 1950 (Formula One's first year) and won its first race at the 1951 British Grand Prix.
    • Between 1950 and 2005 Ferrari won the Drivers and the Constructors Championship titles fourteen times, plus 179 Grand Prix victories.
    • Between 1949 and 1973 Ferrari produced about 18 different 2-seat GT models, including the 4.4 litre GTB/4 (the Daytona) from 1968 to 1973.
    • The 250 GTE produced from 1960 to 1963 was the first four-seat car that Ferrari made in volume.
    •  The two rear seats were, however, considered more ideal for children. Nine hundred and fifty were made.
    • In 1969 Fiat acquired “Ferrari S.p.A”.
    • The 2.4 litre Dino 246 GT & GTS were mid-engine models and were produced from 1969 to 1973 and nearly 3,800 were made. The 246 model had a top speed of 146 mph (232 kph).

      Ferrari Dino 246GT 1969
    • It was also the first Ferrari model produced in high numbers.
    • The 2+2 Dino 308 GT4, which was first produced in 1974, was the company’s first V-8 production car with 2,826 being made.
    • It was replaced in 1980 by the 2+2 Mondial. During the 12 years it was produced more than 6,800 were made.
    • The 3.4 litre 348 model was a mid-engined 2-seat sports car that was produced from 1989 to 1995. It was equipped with dual-computer, double-redundant anti-lock braking systems.
    • The 360 Modena, a two-door coupe, the 360 Spider (a two-door convertible) and the Challenge Stradale were produced from 1999 to 2004. Ferrari
    • Models available in 2007 include the F430, 599 GTB Fidrano and the 612 Scaguetti.
  • 8.10.4. Fiat
    • The Fiat Company was founded in 1899 and by 1910 it was the largest car company in Italy.
    • Between 1899 and the start of World War 2 in 1939 the company produced about 45 different models, mostly cars.
    • The first car produced after the end of World War 2 was the Fiat 500 'Topolino' in 1946, a car that had been designed in 1936 and first produced in 1937. The car remained in  production until 1955.
    • The Fiat 600 was produced from 1955 to 1969, with over 2.5 million being made. The Nuova 500 was another popular car first produced in the 1950s, with over 3.4 million made between 1957 and 1975.

      Fiat 600
    • Between 1946 and 1990 Fiat produced nearly 130 new vehicles. In 1966 Fiat started production of the 124 model, producing nearly 2 million by the time production ceased in 1974.
    • The 125 model was introduced in 1967 and by 1972 just over 3.6 million had been made.
    • Fiat cars have been produced in various countries, some in joint venture production, in Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, India, Poland, South Africa and Turkey,
    • New models produced since 2000 include the Doblo, Stilo, Idea, Punto, Croma, Sedici and Linea. Second generation Ulysee, Panda and Bravo models have also been produced.
  • 8.10.5. Lancia
    • The Lancia & Co Fabricca Automobili company was founded in 1906 by Vincenzo Lancia and a colleague. It became part of the Fiat Group in 1969.
    • The Theta model the company produced between 1913 and 1918 is thought to have been the first car in Europe fitted with a full electrical system.

      Lancia Theta 35HP Coloniale
    • In 1922 they produced the Lambda model, a car with brakes fitted to all 4 wheels.
    • Other models produced between 1906 and 1939 include the Zeta, Artena, Astura, Augusta and the Dilamda.
    • Lancia achieved a great deal of success rallying with their Fulvia, Stratos and Delta models, winning the world rally championship eleven times between 1972 and 1992 (more victories than any other manufacturer).
    • Immediately after the end of World War 2 Lancia introduced two cars that had been developed before the war; the 1,486 cc Aprillia (1946-49) and the 903 cc Ardea (1946-49).
    • New models produced between the 1950s and 1990s include the Aurelia, Appia  and Flaminia (1950s), Flavia and Fulvia (1960s), Beta, Stratos, Gamma and Delta (1970s), Thema, Dedra and Prisma (1980s) and Kappa (1994).
    • Recent models include the Ypsilon, Musa, Lybra, Thesis and Phedra.
  • 8.10.6. Other Italian Car Manufacturers
    • Autobianchi, Bertone, De Tomaso, Iso Rivolta, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pininfarina, Vespa and Vignale.
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