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automotive manufacturing plant / Saronno / 1887 - 1986 / 2006, 2007


A machine shop was established here in 1887 by the German company Maschinenfabrik Esslingen, and assigned to a subsidiary called Costruzioni Meccaniche di Saronno. The aim was to manufacture steam engines and automobiles for the Italian market. In 1925 the factory was taken over by Nicola Romeo (the founder of Alfa Romeo) and renamed CEMSA-Costruzioni Elettromeccaniche di Saronno. A step forward were done in 1935 with the incorporation of CEMSA into Caproni Group. Production shifted towards airplanes and naval engines, under the control of Caproni subsidiary Isotta Fraschini (worldwide famous for luxury cars at that time). In Saronno mainly trucks and artillery were assembled during the entire wartime. The reconversion to civil purposes was managed by Isotta Fraschini, which made several attempts to return to car manufacturing - having meanwhile lost its historical plant in Milan. All of these failed. After a rescue operated by the public mechanical industry holding FIM, Isotta Fraschini merged with Breda Motori in 1955 and gave birth to Fabbrica Automobili Isotta Fraschini e Motori Breda, based in Saronno. Production was concentrated on engines, trolleybuses and tramcars, while a couple of new modern factories were opened in Bari and Trieste during the 1960s. The outdated site of Saronno was slowly abandoned, until the definitive closure in 1986.