Alfa Romeo celebrates 110 years of living a legend.
It has often been said, the future belongs to those who have a great history. The historic Italian carmaker Alfa Romeo turned 110 this past June and Alfa Romeo of Saskatoon is proud to celebrate that history on the prairies. This brand is so steeped in heritage, parts of its origin story are still shrouded in myths. But, what has always been true is the brand’s dedication to constructing automobiles at magnificent standards for devoted drivers.
The draw of Alfa Romeo automobiles goes beyond their innate quality. They represent a history of unrestrained ambition only matched by their indomitable spirit.
The Legend Begins
In 1906 a company called Società Italiana Automobili Darracq (SAID) founded an automobile manufacturing company in Milan, Italy. SAID had great ambitions but poor timing as the company immediately began to struggle. Fortuitously, Ugo Stella, the managing director of the company, took control and relaunched the plant in 1910 as Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, or ALFA.
At the onset of the First World War, a successful electrical engineer named Nicola Romeo purchased ALFA and switched the factory to wartime production. Riding the success of the wartime years, investors decided to take the company public with a new name, and Alfa Romeo was officially registered on February 3, 1918.
In 1929, Nicola Romeo left the company after making several poor investments, and soon World War II was threatening to leave Alfa Romeo in disarray. The company was nationalized by the Italian government under Benito Mussolini, who used the vehicles as a symbol for Italian pride.
At the conclusion of World War II, Alfa Romeo was again facing a difficult situation. The Italian economy was in shambles and the state was in turmoil. Ugo Gabbato, the director at the time, was shot and killed by an unknown gunman as he cycled to work, while most of the car factories had been destroyed by the war.
The new chairman, Orazio Satta Puliga, knew to get the company back on track they had to do what they do best: highlight the spirit of Alfa Romeo. With the introduction of the Freccia D’Oro and the Villa D’Este, the world fell in love with the uncompromising Italian style, sophistication, and class. And we haven’t looked back since.
Badge of Honour
A brand like Alfa Romeo requires a heraldic visual design that signifies achievement and commands respect. This is how the brand can be recognized by the intricate coat of arms located on top of the characteristic trilobe grill.
The design of the Alfa Romeo coat of arms has remained consistent since its first use in 1910, making it one of the most ancient and historic automotive emblems in the world. The red cross on a white background is a symbol of Milan and the dragon-headed snake represents the ruling family of Milan at the time, the Visconti’s.
If you look closely, you can see the shape of a human in the snake’s mouth. The origin of this image is veiled in legend and has roots in the time of the Crusades. Alfa Romeo’s official interpretation is: the human is actually coming out of the snake as a new man, purified and renewed.
Alfa Romeo counts automotive legends, Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford, as peers. Alfa Romeo gave Enzo Ferrari his start in racing, a fact that he fondly remembers in his memoir. “I lived with you for twenty years: How many deeds, events, and men went by! Today I remember them, each and every one. I still have, for Alfa, the tenderness of a first love. The pure affection of a child for his mother.”
Henry Ford, the fearless leader of modern automotive production was also vocal about his appreciation for the fine Italian brand. He is quoted saying he tips his hat when he would see an Alfa Romeo go by.
The Legend Continues
After over a century of existence, we have remained a premium brand that is synonymous with luxury, performance, and unapparelled style. To sit in an Alfa Romeo is to immerse yourself in the history of the majestic and feel the steadfast spirit of innovation. Celebrating this momentous anniversary, the 2020 Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV have been updated to be even more stylish, louder, and fun to drive.
Orazio Satta Puliga, chairman of the company during its resurgence following World War II captures the extraordinary spirit of Alfa Romeo with this quote:
“Alfa Romeo is a particular way of living, of experiencing an automobile. The real essence of Alfa defies description. It can be compared to those irrational movements of the spirit that sometimes occur in man, and for which there is no logical explanation. We are in the realm of sensations, passions, things that have more to do with the heart than with the head.”
With a company that is over 100 years old, we have outlived empires, weathered two World Wars and countless economic downturns. Believing in the Alfa Romeo spirit has kept the company alive even as it has changed hands over the years. Experience the extraordinary today at Alfa Romeo of Saskatoon.