Oh, the Italians. They could sell anything back in the day! The Yugo? Fiat 127. The original Lada? Fiat 124. The Turkish Tofaş Murat? Fiat 131. But the most desirable of them all were the FNM Alfa Romeos in Brazil. Being stylish on a budget has never been easier.
Fábrica Nacional de Motores operated near Rio de Janeiro between 1942 and 1988. After getting tired of building American airplane engines and refrigerators, they signed a deal with the Italian manufacturer Isotta Fraschini to produce the Milanese company's heavy trucks under license. Things were looking good, but in 1951, Isotta went bankrupt despite all that Brazilian capital.
FNM quickly became friends with another state-owned company, Alfa Romeo. They started their affair with only commercial vehicles. Between 1956 and 1960, FNM built more than 15,000 heavy trucks of Alfa Romeo design, and also manufactured the chassis for buses and coaches.
At the same time, a new company was founded by the Italians and Brazilian investor Matarazzo for the production of the Alfa Romeo 2000 (tipo 102/B, "B" for Brazil). Matarazzo backed out soon after realizing European luxury cars weren't what poor Brazil needed the most, so Alfa took over completely. They launched the FNM 2000 sedan in 1960 with the same twin cam 2-liter as back at home, detuned to 95 horsepower. The coupe version followed in 1966 called the Onça (Jaguar). 130 horsepower and basically a Ford Mustang body instead of all those fancy Italian shapes.
But the best was yet to come. In 1971, another coupé called the Furia GT 2150 was presented. Based on the upgraded 2150 sedan, only a few examples were made by hand, making these the most collectable FNMs out there.
Two years later, Alfa Romeo sold the commercial business to Fiat, who later merged it into their Brazilian Iveco subsidiary. The Milanese company kept the automotive division.
Their last car was an interesting one. Meet the 2300! Wearing Alfa Romeo badges instead of FMN's, this 1974 car might look like Alfa Romeo's sporty Alfetta, but don't let that fool you.
The 2300 was 6 inches longer and 2.8 inches wider than the Alfetta. That's because under the skin, it was based on the 1900, a car Alfa Romeo produced back in the fifties. With a 2310 cc engine producing about 130 horsepower, this recycled sedan stayed in production until 1986. In 1981, things got even weirder for a second when Alfa tried to sell this recycled wonder in Germany and the Netherlands. That might have been the year when the Triumph Acclaim was introduced, but so was the BMW E28.
FNM was finished when Fiat took over Alfa Romeo in 1986, and the Brazilian car business was integrated into Fiat's own local operation.
If you're looking for a 2300, get the 1985 ti4. That came with disc brakes all around...