Who was Nicola Romeo – The founder of Alfa Romeo

Nicola Romeo the great Italian engineer and entrepreneur!

Nicola Romeo

Life stories are more interesting and amazing than film making. People are trying to plan the future with their ambitions, and their ideas, but once in a lifetime there is often one idea that will make the biggest changes of all time.

Something similarly happened to a person which name is Nicola Romeo, who like a 26-year-old fortune-teller, was on a train from Brussels to Liege in the company of Robert Blackwell & Co, a director of rail and electric installation.

An English industrialist Nicola Romeo who was about to open a branch in Italy was inspired by an uncompromising compatriot who had just joined the got the tittle of an official Engineer and have the engineer’s diploma in electrical engineering.

Nicola Romeo

Nicola Romeo was looking for a job, but the only thing offered to him was the head of the train station in Tivoli.

Luckily, he refused to become a signalman, and for the next four years he led the affairs of an English company in Italy working on promotion and tramway construction projects, and in the meantime gained valuable experience in starting a self-employed business. 

After finding investors, in 1906 Nicola Romeo founded the company Ing. Nicola Romeo & C., engaged in the production of machinery and equipment for the mining industry.

Nicola Romeo was born on April 28, 1876 in Sant’Antimo the place of Mount VesuĂ­, 12 kilometers away from Naples.

Growing up in a huge family and in very bad financial conditions ,he walked every day to college in Naples, and at 23 he traveled to Belgium where, by teaching younger colleagues, he obtained a second diploma from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Liege.

Nicola Romeo

For such success in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, it was necessary to have a strong character and willingness to achieve such a title, Nicola Romeo was a tough student and intelligent man in his work, according to the few information he had about his life. 

In one of the few interviews Daniela Maestri Romeo, his niece of the famous engineer, describes her grandfather as a gentleman with extraordinary charisma, wearing thick mustache, and in a few photographs he attracts attention to the curious eyes of intelligence.

A man who has succeeded in making his small company with his intuition and knowledge the world-famous. Its ease of approach is a reflection of southern character, which, combined with an international vision from the industry  and knowledge of English, German and French, came to light and on the train when he met a man who would give him a chance to live and open the door to entrepreneurship.

After opening his company in 1906,Nicola Romeo became a representative for Hadfield, a company for special steel and railway materials, a year later for American Ingersoll-Rand company that make compressors, and in 1909 he opened a workshop for repairs and assembly of machines imported from USA.

It was a big step that brought him into contact with Angel Pogliani, the manager of a local bank, who would share with Romeo the joy and suffering in industrial financing.

Romeo had a modern, winning idea, making the nickname “siren” in the industrial environment. He was good at establishing political and financial relations that gave him great opportunity of big projects ahead.

By 1914, he made a contract to produce bullets, but his workshop with only 50 employees was not enough to fulfill all the commitments and tasks for the company to work as it should. The solution was found with the help of the bank and on December 2, 1915. Romeo bought the A.L.F.A. company, already liquidated but equipped with modern machines and very large production facilities.

It was only the first step because the contract wasn’t ment for car construction but in that time for war purposes, and only in 1918 the Milano automaker would be completely incorporated by Nicola Romeo , and the name of Romeo will appear on the Alfa logo.

Nicola Romeo

By the end of the war, the company’s main business is tied to military needs, and then turns to producing rails, aviation, and eventually cars. Romeo sees that sport achievements can serve as a true success move for all other products.

It is known by the best designers and drivers of that time and in 1922 it started serial production with the RL model, and in 1925 the Alfa Romeo P2 won the first world championship in history and entered among the legends.

But all this production does not manage to cover the financial problems caused by the world economic crisis and, pressed into debt, on November 6, 1926.

Alfa Romeo is under state control, in May 28, 1928 Romeo is forced to leave his job. Years later, he joins the Senate of the Kingdom of Italy, ending his entrepreneurial story. Died on August 15, 1938 in the town of Magreglio (Como).

Nicola Romeo

Short Facts about Nicola Romeo

Car production was not a reason why Nicola Romeo bought the A.L.F.A. workshop, but after the war he invested heavily in the development and manufacturing by chosen one of the best competition team by bringing together the best engineers and drivers of that time.

Renewing the production of a car changes the name of the company and in 1919 a trademark appears to become a symbol of speed and quality. In addition to numerous jobs, Romeo dealt with knowledge by studying problems in the field of geometry, and was also an active charity.

Nicola Romeo

The most important years for Nicola Romeo

In 1915 very important contract was made with the army that has motivated Nicola Romeo to buy out the bankrupt A.L.F.A. The production of the cars is stopped, ammunition and military equipment emerge from Portela, and after the war, tractors, compressors, train components was their main products.

Nicola Romeo

After couple of years in 1919

The production of the car has started, at the beginning parts of the warehouse are assembled a hundred pre-war models with only 20-30 hp, which now carry the Alfa Romeo mark. Nicola Romeo recognizes the importance of the race and soon brings together the best engineers and drivers.

Nicola Romeo

Year later in 1920

The RL model, is  the masterpiece of Giuseppe Merosi, an engineer given by Nicola Romeo with A.L.F.A. Merosi simultaneously modernized his pre-war model with 20-30 HP, on which basis racing version E and ES Sport.

Nicola Romeo

The winning race 1923

Ugo Sivocci, the main driver of Alfa Romeo, won the Targa Florio race and achieved his top career success. The four-leaf green leaflet (Quadrifoglio), which was happily worn by his winning RL Alfa Model, will become the symbol of all sports Alfa vehicles in the history of Alfa Romeo.

Nicola Romeo

Race with the P2 Model 1924

P2 was the first eight-cylinder car from Milano and the first to be signed by Vittorio Jano, whose transfer from Fiat to Alfa Romeo was credited by Enzo Ferrari. Status icon gained victory at the First World Championship in 1925.

After few years later in 1928 was the collapse of the bank and a number of financial problems stemmed from conflicts with the remaining shareholders who made him leave everything he had been doing for three decades.