As from the first day of the summer holidays Autoworld-Brussels will be giving pride of place to the legendary Milanese make Alfa Romeo.
With no less than some 50 models among the most iconic, it will recount the Cuore Sportivo’s 112 years of history.
Organised in close collaboration with the major clubs, the Musée Nationale de l’Automobile de Mulhouse, private collectors, the Italian collector of Prototypes Corrado Lopresto as also Alfa Romeo Belgium (Stellantis), this exhibition will celebrate its launch on Sunday 3rd July, marked by an event from the Club Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio Belgio: a splendid run with a start in front of the Palais Royal of Brussels and with arrival on the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire, in front of the Autoworld museum, where a Concours of Elegance will be held with near on 150 cars.
On the museum’s first floor, on the Herman De Croo Plaza, numerous historic models will be on display: those from the pre-war period, the touring models, the competition machines and the special cars. Among those it is worth noting the presence of a Giulietta Sprint and a Spider, the 2600 Sprint & 2000 Spider, a Montreal, a Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, a Spider Coda Tronca, a GT 1600 Zagato, a Giulia GT 1300 Scalino, a GT 1300 Junior, a 2000 GTV, an Alfasud, an Alfasud TI and an Alfasud Sprint, a Giulietta Turbodelta, an Alfa 90, an Alfa 75 2.5 QV, an Alfa 6 and many more...
The Musée Nationale de l’Automobile de Mulhouse will be loaning us a splendid Alfa Romeo 8C Pininfarina dating from 1936, which had won the Mille Miglia that same year.
In addition, a zone of the exhibition will be dedicated to five exceptional Prototypes emanating from Corrado Lopresto’s fabulous collection. The Lopresto collection of Italian Protypes dating from 1901 to this day is one of the most important in the world. Many of these models are unique, custom built with specific characteristics (rare models, special series, bearing number 1 chassis, cars belonging to famous owners). Most of these received awards at Villa d'Este and Pebble Beach.
Showcases with scale models will focus on these same cars in subtle dioramas.
On the ground floor, thanks to the support of Alfa Romeo Belgique (Stellantis), a few current cars will be on display.
Darracq, the French car manufacturer was interested in the Italian market and at the beginning of the 20th century established a factory in the vicinity of Milan, at Portello. Unfortunately, the French venture was far from successful and in 1909 the factory was taken over by a group of Lombardy investors. They named their company Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, ALFA for short. Thanks to the war industry the factory rapidly expanded.
In 1915 the factory came under the leadership of the engineer Nicola Romeo, who after the war merges Alfa with his own company. They produce motorcars, tractors, trains, aircraft engines and other industrial products.
1923 sees the start of the production of the six-cylinder RL, the first car to bear the name Alfa Romeo in full. A race version of this model, the RLSS (Super Sport) is immediately highly successful in the hands of among others Antonio Ascari and ... Enzo Ferrari.
Romeo enters his cars in all major sporting competitions, their successes offering up an aura of prestige and sportiness. Without delay a competition department is set up, headed up by Vittorio Jano. Under his leadership the P2 Grand Prix car is developed, winning many competitions and claiming the first world championship in 1925.
The make then focusses on smaller engines, but with a strong performance and styish finish. Six-cylinders (6C) with double overhead camshafts, either fitted with or without a Rootes supercharger become typical features, along with an outstanding brake system, which outstrips all the competition.
In 1931 the first 8C appears, which was to be at the base of many more sporting successes. The racing team is then headed up by Enzo Ferrari, and the prancing horse adorns the flanks of the bonnet. Car production is predominantly focussed on efficiency and sporting characteristics, the cost price being of a lesser importance. Alfa becomes a status make, boasting a sporting aura.
To recover from the war, the policy was to opt for one model, the 1900 with self-supporting bodywork, which could be mass produced. Nonetheless the sporting angle is not forgotten and both in 1950 and 1951 Alfa claims the first two F1 world championships with the Alfetta 158 and 159, powered by 1500 cc supercharged engines.
THE 50's THROUGH TO TODAY
Once again in the second half of the ‘50s new sporty models appear bearing the name Giulietta, powered by a new series of four-cylinder engines. The arrival of the Giulia demands further expansion making it necessary to build a new factory in Arese. They continue to concentrate on the sporting aspect, leading to the creation of the Autodelta subsidiary, which brings together all the sporting activities, both in the field of Sport-Prototypes and Touring Cars.
In the ‘60s Alfa gained fame with their TZ and the GTA as also GTAM Touring Cars on all the world’s circuits. In 1967, as part of the industrialisation of the south of Italy a new factory is built, where a small modern front-wheel-drive car is to be built, namely the Alfasud.
The ‘70s saw wavering times for the make, sporting successes alternating with commercial set-backs. This was the era of the 1750 in various formats, and its successor the 2000.
There was also the Montreal, a prestige project, which, however was not an unqualified success.
In 1986 the make became a subsidiary of the Fiat Group. This also resulted in a fair amount of technology being shared and Alfa somewhat losing its exclusive image. The typical rear-wheel-drive, with or without transaxle, was swapped for the far plainer front-wheel-drive car.
The presentation of the 156 in 1997 represented a new start for the make, which in the meanwhile was being repositioned as the premium make within the Fiat Group.
The 166 was a logical next step, but unfortunately, they did not follow this new momentum on through.
This only happened in 2015 with the introduction of the new Giulia, which relaunched Alfa as the premium make within the Fiat Group, that one year earlier had been reformed into FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles).
The arrival of the Stelvio and more recently the Tonale confirmed this, even though there is no longer talk of FCA, but of Stellantis, the consortium in which FCA and PSA (Peugeot-Citroën) have joined forces. The Tonale represents the make’s first step in the development of electric cars.