Italian cars, specifically luxury and sports cars, maintain a global reputation for speed, design and beauty. Beginning in 1884 when Enrico Bernardi constructed the tricycle car running on petrol fuel, the Italian automobile industry started its long and rich journey in the transportation industry. The first actual Italian car was manufactured in 1896 then three years later, Giovannia Agnelli founded Fiat with his partners and they mass produced their initial design. Italy continues to be one of the top five global automobile manufacturers with Fiat dominating the industry due to 90-percent overall production.
In perfect Italian fashion, the history of its car manufacturing reads like a soap opera including tales of mergers and acquisitions attempting to deflect the attention away from the designers. However, through a difficult financial period, the industry persevered and continues to deliver high-quality, powerful and beautiful cars. The following is a list of those cars including the top 10 Italian luxury car brands.
With headquarters in Turin, Italy, Abarth is a racing and road car manufacturer with a shield and stylized scorpion as their logo. The company is a subsidiary of Fiat and currently produces a variety of small street cars. Its luxury claim to fame is the Abarth 123 Spider which is a sports car and roadster.
Founded on June 24th, 1910 in Milan, Alfa Romeo Automobiles was an original offshoot of Societa Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID). Alfa Romeo produced their first car in 1910 which featured 24 horsepower. Only one year later, the company entered two automobiles into the Targara Florio motor racing spectacle which began a long motor racing sponsorship campaign.
Alfa Romeo has competed in numerous motor racing events including sports car, touring car racing, rallies, Formula One and Grand Prix. The automobile group produced many sports cars during the 1960’s and 1970’s but was then sold to the Fiat Group in 1986. Since then, the company has numerous models in production such as 150, GT, Brera, MiTo, Giulietta, Spider and 8C Spider.
As a small volume automobile producer from Italy, B-Engineering is comprised of many former Bugatti employees. The company’s biggest claim to fame is the uber-exclusive Edonis supercar that was constructed from the Bugatti EB110. However, with several engine modifications, the car now has a higher performance rating that the EB110.
Founded in 1929 by Enzo Ferrari, the company sponsored drivers and produced racing cars. Then, in 1947, Ferrari expanded onto road vehicles in an effort to fund its racing ventures. During this time, Ferrari was most successful in the Formula One circuit. In fact, Ferrari is the only team in existence to have consistently competed in the Formula One World Championship continuously since 1950. The company holds almost very Formula One record on the books nudging 15 World Driver Championship titles, 209 Grand Prix victories, 16 World Constructors Championship titles, 622 podium finishes, 203 pole positons, 218 fastest laps, 4925.27 points and 776 Grands Prix contested.
Two years after entering the road car market, Ferrari entered into the gran touring market which accounts from the majority of its sales. Ferrari also licenses numerous products under its brand name such as eyewear, watches, bicycles, clothing, perfume and electronics. There is even a Ferrari museum called, Galleria Ferrari, which documents the historical and modern achievements of the team.
Founded in 1899, Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Fiat) quickly grew and expanded its operations so that 25-years later, they became the dominant force in the Italian automobile industry. Fiat launches a variety of cars such as sports cars, vans, trucks and small road cards. As a result, the company won the European Car of the Year award twelve times. Fiat is also a force overseas and management decided to construct these cards in locations numerous European, African and Asian countries. After many acquisitions over the years, Fiat is now a conglomerate that owns a variety of businesses across multiple industries. As a result, Fiat is Italy’s greatest industrial organization.
As another small car manufacturer on this list, Fornasari produces several styles of their two and four-door SUV’s, all of which has over 600 horsepower and can go from 0-100km/h in only 3.8 seconds. This rivals many sports cars in the marketplace today.
Founded in 1963, Automobili Lamborghini was originally a tractor business that utilized leftover military hardware for its construction. By 1955, the tractor company was one of the largest in Italy. The owner saw an opportunity to indulge in his passion for luxury cars and created Lamborghini. The first goal of this dynamic company was to perfect and promote the grand touring car. After several years of working with designers to develop the car, the Lamborghini 350GTV was born and revealed at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. The rest, as they say, is history.
Lancia is not a brand that most citizens of the United States are aware of. Founded in 1906 by race car drivers, Lancia became famous due to their many innovations within the industry. The company has a vast history of manufacturing distinctive automobiles and even performing at motor rallies. Their best innovations include, the first complete electrical system, independent front suspension, the first V4 and V6 engines, the first rea trans-axles, the first 5-speed gearbox that is actually fitted to a street legal automobile.
Founded in 1914 as a Grand Prix car for Diatto, Maserati actually began producing street legal automobiles in 1957. The company has a vast history of reinvention and takeovers. Currently, Fiat Auto owns the company and combined it with Alfa Romeo in 2005. Maserati cars performed well at racing events throughout the 1940’s and 50’s. In 1939 and 1940, Maserati automobiles won the Indianapolis 500 which is the only Italian car producer in history to earn this distinction.
As a manufacturer of supercars, Pagani Automobili S.p.A. was founded in 1992 by Argentinian Horacio Pagani but is based out of San Cesario sul Panaro, Italy. For many years, Pagani has worked closely with Daimler AG, especially on the Mercedes AMG and the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve. The most well-known product lines from Pagani include Zonda and Huayra. Zonda was the first model that is still in existence today. The second model is Huayara which debuted in January 2011.