The Alfa Romeo story begins with Alexandre Darracq, who set up the Societa Anonima Italiana Darracq near Milano in 1906. The company was close to bankruptcy by the end of the decade. The factory was sold to investors and enthusiasts, under the name, Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, or A.L.F.A.
Despite notable models in the early 1910s, the company’s finances were still performing poorly. Industrialist Nicola Romeo stepped in after the Great War, with the intention of making a wide range of products. Eventually with other financial problems, Romeo—now selling the cars as Alfa Romeo—concentrated on automotive production. Romeo departed in 1928 amid more financial problems, and the company was fully restructured by 1934. Ugo Gobbato, general manager, grows the company after this period, though production was interrupted by World War II.
The war left its toll on Alfa Romeo, which had to rebuild its factory alongside automobiles. It was not till the 1950s that Alfa Romeo found greater stability and expansion through the 1960s. However, the 1970s’ recession brought the company into trouble again.
The company embarked on an ill-fated alliance with Nissan, which produced the unhappy Arna, and cooperated with Fiat and Saab on a large car, before being sold to Fiat in 1986. Fiat grouped Alfa Romeo with its premium Lancia brand, forming Alfa Lancia SpA, though it took till the mid-1990s before iconic, well styled models reappeared in its range.