TIMELINE: Key events in Fiat's history

(Reuters) - Italian industrial group Fiat SpA is expected on Wednesday to be among the bidders for German car maker Opel, a unit of General Motors Corp.

Following is a history of Fiat:

1899 - Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (FIAT) founded.

1900 - First Fiat plant opens with 35 staff; makes 24 cars.

1969 - Fiat buys Lancia carmaker and half of Ferrari.

1973 - Fiat suffers first operating loss as result of strikes and the first oil price shock.

1976 - Libya buys just under 10 percent of Fiat.

1986 - Fiat beats Ford to buy Alfa Romeo from the Italian government, making it Europe’s largest automaker. Libya sells its stake back to the founding Agnelli family and a consortium led by investment bank Mediobanca.

2000 - Banks urge Fiat to sell Fiat Auto to DaimlerChrysler. In July, Fiat prefers to sell 20 percent of Fiat Auto to GM for $2.4 billion in GM stock.

Oct 2002 - Fiat asks for crisis status from government; says to lay off 8,100 workers and shut down its Sicilian plant.

Jan 2003 - Gianni Agnelli dies; brother Umberto takes over as head of family holding; a year later, Umberto dies.

June 2004 - Fiat names turnaround expert Sergio Marchionne to be its fifth chief executive in two years.

Feb 2005 - Fiat and GM dissolve five-year partnership with the U.S. auto giant paying Fiat 1.55 billion euros in cash to avoid having to buy loss-making Fiat Auto.

Jan 2007 - Fiat says its key auto unit turned a profit in 2006, the first since 2000.

July 2007 - Fiat unveils a new version of the Cinquecento in a return of the tiny, iconic car out of production for 32 years.

Jan 2009 - Fiat unveils a preliminary deal to take 35 percent in Chrysler LLC in exchange for access to its technology and overseas markets.

Feb - Fiat obtains a 1 billion euro credit line from banks.

April 23 - Fiat announces a first-quarter trading loss of 48 million euros.

April 30 - Chrysler and Fiat confirm a global strategic alliance as Chrysler files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

May 4 - Marchionne meets senior government officials in Berlin to present his vision of combining Fiat’s car business with Opel and GM’s other European operations and Chrysler. It would lead to their respective car businesses being spun off into a combined group and listed on the stock market.

May 20 - Fiat is slated to present its proposal for Opel.

Editing by Andrew Callus