Top 15 Italian Car Brands
Italian cars are as mesmerizing and sophisticated as the country’s people. The country is known for manufacturing some of the most incredible, classiest, and most luxurious cars globally. And it is not only about making an eye-catching exterior but interior as well.
If we talk about Italian automobile history, we need to go back to the 1884s. That was the time when Karl Benz invented the internal combustion engine, and so did Enrico Zeno Bernardi. Bernardi installed the engine in his son’s tricycle and then his daughter’s sewing machine.
This idea was used to make motor vehicles, and the Italian automobile industry began changing with that. In 1896, Stefanini-Martina became the first official automobile manufacturer in Italy. But it was not until 1899 Giovanni Agnelli and his partners founded Fiat, which brought success and fame in the Italian car industry.
After that, Italian car manufacturing companies kept rising and started gaining more and more popularity worldwide, outshining the United Kingdom in the 1980s. Now, the Italian car brands are worldwide famous, and the country has one of the top and highest-grossing automobile industries.
Top Italian Car Brands
The Italian automobile industry has over 2500 firms, which employ more than 300,000 people. So today, I will talk about 15 such brands and help you recognize their logos if you don’t know them already.
Founder: Giovanni Agnelli
Founded In: 1899
FIAT is not just a name but an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. It is the brand that changed Italian automotive history and is the largest Italian car brand to this day.
Giovanni Agnelli founded the brand in 1889, along with some industrialists. And it has been the largest Italian car brand until the 1980s and the third in the world. However, their very first car looked nothing like the modern versions you see today. But it was modern enough at the time it came out.
After some time, the company began making cars that ran on batteries. But they wanted to make cars more accessible to people and ended up creating the Fiat Tipo in 1910, which gained success. During the 20th century, the brand won several prestigious prizes for manufacturing reliable and stylish designed cars.
This car manufacturing company ran several plants in North America during the early 1900s. However, it had to leave the continent because its reputation and sales dropped. Nevertheless, FIAT still was the inspiration behind the design of many famous Italian car brands, including in Europe, the Soviet Union, and Asia.
- Alfa Romeo
Founder: Alexandre Darracq, Ugo Stella, Nicola Romeo
Founded In: 1910
The Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (ALFA) was founded in 1910 by Alexandre Darracq. But after Nicola Romeo joined as a shareholder in 1915, he added his last name, and Alfa Romeo was created. Later, the brand would be one of Italy’s most popular sports car manufacturers worldwide.
The company manufactures both Formula One and Luxury sports car models. Sergio Pininfarina designed the famous Alfa Romeo 1955 Giulietta Spider. And over the years, many other people worked on vehicle models and designs.
The Alfa Romeo sports are some of the most excellent and faster cars manufactured to this day. They even won more races than many other popular brands. And other than sports cars, this Italian brand has made commercial vehicles, buses, trucks, and even aircraft engines.
After Fiat, Alfa Romeo is the second-largest Italian car brand. And now, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles owns the brand, and it still makes spacious and luxurious cars.
Founder: Enzo Ferrari
Founded In: 1939
Everyone knows the Ferrari. Everyone wants a Ferrari. I mean, why wouldn’t they? It is one of the most luxurious car brands that make attractive designs, super fast speed, and they come with some of the best features. Even Top Gear called the Ferrari brand “the most exotic, desirable” and that it built “cutting-edge supercars”.
The brand was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1939 when his racing team was known for their fast speed and became pretty unbeatable. Together they were working on their car models, but it, unfortunately, stopped during the Second World War.
But that did not end the founders’ vision, and they continued after the war. Then the company launched its first model and won the Rome Grand Prix. That’s right. Ferrari does not stop because of war.
Interestingly, Enzo Ferrari used to be a race car driver at Alfa Romeo. That explains a lot about the brand’s success and fame as a racing car manufacturer.
Founder: Ferruccio Lamborghini
Founded In: 1963
Here is one more brand that makes you own not just one but more models. Why does it sound so much like the Ferrari? That’s because the Lamborghini brand came as a competitor for the Ferrari.
It was the time when the Ferrari was dominating the sports car as well as the traditional car market. So Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to found a brand as a rival in 1964. Now you know why both these brands have such attractive cars with astonishing speed.
Lamborghini received immense responses from buyers and kept going up with the business. However, in 1973, the company suffered from a holdback. Later, it became a part of the Volkswagen brand, and now it operates under the Audi division.
The brand still manufactures luxury sports cars, and they are commonly purchased and used by people who have a passion for collecting cars, a.k.a. super-rich people. You can already tell that by looking at the logo, the shield represents richness, and the golden snorting bull means power.
Founder: Alfieri Maserati, Ernesto Maserati, Bindo Maserati, Ettore Maserati
Founded In: 1914
It all started with Carlos Maserati, the eldest of the Maserati brothers, inventing the bicycle-powered combustion engine. Carlos used the bike for racing, and thus the idea for starting a vehicle manufacturing company came.
Unfortunately, he died in 1910 after suffering from tuberculosis. Later his four brothers, Alfieri, Ernesto, Bindo, and Ettore, founded the brand in 1914 after finding their passion for motor vehicles. They used their family surname to establish the company and gained success.
There was one more Maserati brother, Mario, who did not follow his other brothers into manufacturing cars. However, he had a passion for arts and designs, and he is the one that made the famous Maserati trident logo that they still use.
The company moved to make luxury cars in 1960 and still manufactures such cars. These cars are now sold in more than 60 countries other than Italy.
Founder: Horacio Pagani
Founded In: 1992
Pagani has been a well-known brand for sports cars and microfiber. Horacio Pagani founded the brand in 1992. Before that, he used to be the manager at the Lamborghini company. But later, he decided to start his own brand, and Pagani and Lamborghini began designing their cars separately.
The first car Pagani launched was called the Zonda. But before the car got this name, it went through a few more names. When Pagani was prototyping the car, he called it the Fangio F1. The car went through several tests before landing with its final name and result.
The reason Zonda got a huge success is mainly that the car design was inspired by jet fighters. It helped get its unique look, along with other features and elements.
The car was featured in Top Gear and said to be one of the fastest cars ever made. Other than this model, another successful model by this brand is the Huayra.
Founder: Vincenzo Lancia
Founded In: 1906
Here is one more Italian car brand that goes head to head with another famous brand and has a racing history. Lancia founders Vincenzo Lancia and Claudio Fogolin, the founders of the brand, used to work as racing car drivers at Fiat. Just like Fiat, this brand also started with carriage models and later began making luxurious and some of the classiest car models.
Talking about Lancia car models, what attracted the people towards the brand, along with its eye-catching models, are their model names. Lancia car models have names with Greek alphabets. It was a unique and innovative way to catch attention.
Fiat took over the brand in 1969 and worked on preserving the brand. Between 1970 to 1980, Lancia won many World Rally Championships.
Founder: Carlo Abarth
Founded In: 1949
Abarth is one of the famous Italian car brands that makes reliable and classy cars. The brand does not just make sports cars but also road cars. Carlo Abarth founded the brand in 1949, and it is often referred to as the Mini Cooper of Italy.
Carlo had been modifying vehicles since a very young age. It was only natural that he would want to create his own brand someday. And that’s what he did. And the logo of the brand is a shield that represents power, along with a scorpion to represent Abarth’s star sign.
Later, Fiat acquired the brand, and many Abarth cars contain the Fiat logo. In 1962, the Fiat Abarth 750 made its place in the world record book by smashing other cars’ records by both time and distance.
Founder: A Group Of Companies
Founded In: 1975
Iveco did not limit itself to just one type of vehicle. It stands for Industrial Vehicles Corporation. And just as its name suggests, this brand has been making commercial vehicles for around half a century.
It manufactures many types of vehicles, such as buses, trucks, construction site vehicles, defense vehicles, firefighting vehicles, along with vehicles for mining and off-road missions, etc. So you can already tell why it is one of the top Italian car brands.
A group of companies founded it in 1975, including the Magirus–Deutz and various Fiat divisions. Then in 1978, the company introduced its first self-driving car, and it changed a lot of things for Iveco as a car brand.
- Gruppo Bertone
Founder: Giovanni Bertone
Founded In: 1912
Gruppo Bertone, also known as Bertone, is not just a car manufacturing brand name. This company also specializes in styling cars and coachbuilding.
Bertone has designed many cars from several famous brands. And that includes Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and more. So it is no wonder that some of these brands’ cars share resemblance here and there.
Berton even designed bicycle and helmet manufacturing companies. Unfortunately, in 2014, the company went bankrupt. So the logo you see now that looks like a small letter b belongs to several entrepreneurs.
The company is still active, but its activities have increased even more. This brand’s most famous car so far is the Bertone Nuccio.
Founder: Walter Faralli, Luca Mazzanti
Founded In: 2002
The Mazzanti is not a widely recognized brand, but it is one of Italy’s “lesser-known, yet reliable” sports car brands.
Luca Mazzanti, the man who founded the brand, was fond of car and motor racing. But he did not start the brand until 2002. So we can call it a modern-day sports car company. He worked for years and gained all the needed experience to establish a successful car manufacturing brand.
But the brand wouldn’t have happened without Walter Faralli joining the team. Together, their vision was to bring out hypercars. Their first car, Antas, was inspired by the brand Maserati and an Eagle. This brand is now going forward with its plan and release of new supercars.
Founder: Alejandro de Tomaso
Founded In: 1959
If you think love does not create a car brand, wait till you find out how de Tomaso became a car brand. Alejandro de Tomaso was the person behind the name, an Argentine-born racing car driver.
In 1955, when he worked with OSCA as a test driver, he met an American heiress named Isabella. Isabella was also a successful racing car driver, and she and Alejandro raced several cars together. Later, they fell in love and got married. And after the couple left OSCA, they decided to start their own brand.
Everything was going well for this brand until it started losing its ground. And even though Gian Mario Rossignolo bought the company to revive it, he was detained for misusing the budget fund, and the company went bankrupt.
Founder: Giuseppe Fornasari
Founded In: 1999
The Fornasari is one of those Italian car brands that began with a promising vision but did not last very long. Giuseppe Fornasari founded it in 1999 and filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
The company focused on making SUVs and sports cars. It manufactured comparatively fewer cars, but some of them had been pretty successful. Fornasari showed the concept of futuristic cars that may change the upcoming cars from other brands.
Despite everything, the brand failed to carry on with the competitive market and discontinued making vehicles in 2015.
- Covini Engineering
Founder: Ferruccio Covini
Founded In: 1978
Of course, four-wheel cars are cool, classy, and aesthetic. But how about luxury cars with six wheels? If you haven’t heard of the Civic Engineering company yet, here is more for you.
Ferruccio Covini founded the company in 1978. The prototype the company made was the Covini T44 Turbo. However, the vehicle never made it beyond the prototype.
Then there were a few more models over the next twenty years. But the most popular and successful model Covini made was the Covini C6W.
The car had six wheels with two axles (four wheels) at the front. Apparently, the 1970 Tyrrell P34 Formula One car was the inspiration behind this Covini car’s design.
Founder: Michael Perschke
Founded In: 1930
Pininfarina was founded by Battista “Pinin” Farina in 1930. The company was named after the founder, and it had started its business with car bodyworks and coachbuilders.
Many famous automobile brands hired this company for designing cars. Some of them are the Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, Fiat, Lancia, etc. The company even worked with some renowned Chinese car manufacturers.
But it did not just stop at designing passenger or sports cars. Pininfarina kept on designing buses, trains, trams, as well as airplanes and jet planes. The company entered the electric car market in 2009 with its electric sports car concept.
And in 2019, the first Automobili Pininfarina electric sports car was unveiled. It was named the Pininfarina Battista to honor the late founder of this famous brand.
The Italian car brands are responsible for around 90% of the country’s car production. It produces about one million cars every year and sells them globally. It is one of the reasons this country is one of the top and largest car manufacturing brands in the world.
With more than 2000 car manufacturing automotive companies and 250,000 people employed in them, Italian cars have been making significant changes in the country’s economy. This industry currently contributes to 8.5% of Italy’s GDP.