The Italian automotive industry started in the late 1889s, with the Stefanini-Martina regarded as the first manufacturer although Enrico Bernardi had built a petrol fueled tri-cycle in 1884.
In 1888 Giovanni Battista Ceirano started building Welleyes bicycles, so named because English names had more sales appeal, and in October 1898 he co-founded Ceirano GB & C with his brothers Matteo, Giovanni and Ernesto to build the Welleyes motor car. As they encountered challenges of scale and finance they contacted a consortium of local nobility and business-men lead by Giovanni Agnelli and in July 1899 Fiat SpA purchased the plant, design and patents - so producing the first F.I.A.T. - the Fiat 4 HP. The Welleyes / F.I.A.T 4 HP had a 679 cc engine and was capable of 35 km/h (22 mph).
Isotta Fraschini was founded in 1900, at first assembling Renault model automobiles.
The automobile industry grew quickly and manufacturers included Aquila Italiana, Fratelli Ceirano, Società Anonima Italiana Darracq - Darracq, Diatto, Itala, Junior, Lancia, Società Ceirano Automobili Torino, S.T.A.R. Rapid, SPA, and Zust.
During the first and the second World Wars and the economic crisis of the 70's, many of these brands disappeared or were bought by FIAT or foreign manufacturers.
Fiat 124, 1967 European Car of the Year, the ancestor Soviet (Lada), Polish (Polski Fiat) and Turkish (TOFAŞ Murat 124,TOFAŞ Serçe) mass car industry
Fiat 127, 1972 European Car of the Year, the catalyst of Spanish (SEAT) and Yugoslavian (Zastava) automotive industry
Over the years Italian automobile industry has also been involved in numerous enterprises outside Italy, many of which have involved the production of Fiat-based models, including Lada in Russia, Zastava and Yugo in the former Yugoslavia, FSO (Polski Fiat) in Poland and SEAT (now part of Volkswagen) in Spain.
In the 1960s and 1970s Italy restored own large auto industry that was 3rd-4th in Europe and 5th-6th in the...