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The Evolution of Alfa Romeo’s Name

Alfa Romeo is reemerging in North America, evident by their expensive advertising campaign during the recent Super Bowl. However, we wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t all that familiar with the brand. This lack of familiarity could partly be attributed to the fact that the company was exclusively oriented towards the European market for nearly half a century. However, the unfamiliarity could also be attributed to the fact that the brand has undergone several name changes over the years.
We tried our best to collect (and subsequently translate) these various names. Let’s dive in and see how Alfa Romeo has evolved since their initial introduction…
First Name Attempt
Back in 1906, the French automobile firm owned by Alexandre Darracq teamed up with a number of investors to produce new and innovative vehicles. Of course, you can’t have a company without a flashy name, so the group ultimately decided on… Società Anonima Italiana Darracq.
Yea, we’re not too sure what that means either. The “Darracq” inclusion is obviously inspired by the “owner’s” last name. Using Google Translate as a resource, I’ve determine that the rest of the name essentially meant “Anonymous Italian Society.”
That’s pretty mysterious (although I’m pretty sure the translation isn’t all that accurate). Either way, the “innovative” name ultimately didn’t stick around all that long.
Second Name Attempt
The Società Anonima Italiana Darracq lingered around for several years as the company found their footing. They opened an 8,000-square-yard in Milan (Portello, to be exact), but sales were a bit underwhelming.
This is when Milanese money-man Ugo Stella, an original investor in the company, decided to take over. Stella was already a chairman of the company, but he recognized that “SAID” was struggling. As a result, he established a new company to partner with Darracq’s: Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili.
What does this mean? Well, relying on the trusty Google Translate tool again, I’ve established that the name probably means something along the lines of “Anonymous Lombarda Automobile Factory.” Similar to its predecessor, this name didn’t stick around, although the abbreviation (“ALFA”) did.
Third Name Attempt
The First World War ended up stunting car production for nearly half a decade. However, Neapolitan money-maker Nicola Romeo ultimately took the company over, converting the factories into producers of military equipment. The company solely focused on assisting the Italian and Allied efforts during the War for the next several years.
When the war ended, Romeo ultimately purchased a locomotive and railway carriage factory with the intent to dive into that particular industry. However, there were still a number of unfinished vehicles sitting around “ALFA’s” factories, inspiring Romeo to focus more on automobiles.
Predictably, that led to the brand’s third (and final) name change, although this one wasn’t too hard to grasp. The company retained “Alfa” and included their current owner’s last name, resulting in the “Alfa Romeo” badge that is still around today.
You can refer to the company as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq, Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, or simply “Alfa Romeo.” Regardless of which name you opt for, one thing should remain consistent: your growing interest in the brand’s current grouping of vehicles.
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