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Alfa Romeo GTA

The stunning Alfa Romeo GTA made its debut in 1965 and was produced through 1971. Now it is back, with GTA versions of the 147, 156 and 156 Sportwagon. The top-of-the-range model sports a magnificent 3.2 liter gasoline engine, but more popular is the two liter diesel motor.

Henry Ford is reputed to have said: ?Every time I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I raise my hat.? It says a great deal when the effective creator of the modern motor car treats another brand with such reverence.

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The Alfa Romeo logo is derived from the Milanese symbols of a serpent and a cross. The word Alfa itself comes from the full name Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili.

The company was founded in 1910 by Italian aristocrat Ugo Stella in the ill-fated industrial complex in Milan built by motor manufacturer Alessandre Darracq at Portello. It was in 1906 that Darracq decided to establish an Italian division: Societa Italiana Automobili Darracq to assemble a lower priced vehicle than his expensive French models. Initially the company was located in Naples but in 1907 Darracq moved the operation to Milan, but at the end of the year there was a slump in the European motor industry and there was little demand for Italian Darracqs. By 1909 Darracq was virtually bankrupt and, despite his French origins, a new company was formed: Societ? Anonima Lombarda Fabbricca Automobili. Chief designer for the new company was a man called Giuseppe Merosi, a man born in Piacenza and who had made bicycles with someone called Vittorio Bassi. Merosi and Bassi made the ? Endless? bicycle, although history does not record where it gained its unusual name ?

The war years intervened between 1914 and 1918 but in 1920 Alfa was incorporated into the group of companies run by wealthy industrialist Nicola Romeo and the two names became forever inextricably intertwined.

It was in 1920 that the first Alfa Romeo to sport the famous logo appeared, the Torpedo 20-30 horsepower. But 10 years earlier, a 24 hp model designed by Giuseppe Merosi was Alfa?s first commercial success. More than 300 were produced between 1910 and 1920. It immediately found favor with lovers of fast cars for its excellent pick-up and reliability. For its time the car was remarkably modern, with a single, four-cylinder engine block, four-speed transmission and impressive performance. Top speed was a heady 115 km/h.

One of the most famous Alfa Romeo designers in history was Vittorio Jano, an Italian engineer who produced cars for both Alfa Romeo and Lancia. Although his family lived in Turin, they were originally from Hungary.

In 1923 Jano, who had been with the then successful Fiat racing team, joined Alfa Romeo to design its grand prix car. Merosi continued to be in charge of road cars, but in 1925 Jano took complete control, designing some of Alfa Romeo?s greatest competition machines as well as many of its sports and touring cars in the Thirties. Merosi meanwhile moved to France where he worked for the little-known company Mathis in Strasbourg.

Jano meanwhile produced the 1924 Grand Prix Alfa Romeo P2 that won the first race it entered at Lyon in central France. In 1925, Alfa Romeo won the manufacturers? title in 1925 and it was the laurels to celebrate the occasion that fringe the current logo.

Jano designed several more successful racing cars, including the Tipo B Monoposto of 1932-35 ? the P3 in company parlance ? and the 8C-35 and 12C-36. In 1938, though, Jano moved to Lancia, but although he was still hugely successful, he?d made his reputation at Alfa Romeo where he had enjoyed a wonderful and extremely peaceful 15 years. Sadly, Vittorio Jano committed suicide on March 13, 1965.

For more information about the GTA Alfa Romeos, go to www.alfaromeo.co.th

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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