Alfa Romeo RL – 1922

ALFA was founded in 1910 and began operations by producing the open-topped 24 HP, designed by Giuseppe Merosi. This was made in various configurations and raced in the 1911 Targa Florio, Sicily’s famous long-distance endurance test – a shrewd move that brought recognition and commercial success. But World War 1 ended car production as ALFA turned to the manufacture of military equipment.

In 1920, renamed Alfa Romeo, the company started building cars again, initially assembling parts left lying around the factory since 1915. But a new model was introduced in 1922, also designed by Merosi, that would establish Alfa’s reputation for producing great sports cars. The RL series was an unqualified success, with over 2,600 vehicles produced in five years. Three versions were made – Normale, Turismo and Sport – underlining the common practice of putting different body shapes on the same chassis. It was also usual for outside coachbuilders to receive a rolling chassis and add their own distinctive bodywork.

This creative approach suited the Italian temperament perfectly, and one outfit that took full advantage was the design company founded by Ugo Zagato in 1923 that still operates in Milan. From the beginning Zagato was known for producing rakish, high-performance cars that were streamlined and aerodynamically efficient – a reputation first established by the stunning Alfa Romeo RL Supersport Zagato of 1926.

This attractive two-door drophead coupe extended the RL range significantly and was both expensive and exclusive (only 88 made). But Zagato didn’t, have the RL custom market all to themselves – coachbuilders Castagna had already produced the brushed- aluminum RL Supersport Castagna in 1925. It wasn’t as last as the Zagato, but was also a spectacular addition to Alfa’s highly regarded RL series. Catch an RL if you win a lottery jackpot, then enjoy the drive of a lifetime.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Italy

FIRST manufactured:

1922 (until 1927)

engine:

2,944 cc Straight Six

PERFORMANCE:

The sporty Zagato achieved a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h).

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

One of the drivers who formed the successful 1923 Alfa racing team – which used a modified version of the RL series, the RL TF (Targa Florio) – was a talented young fellow named Enzo Ferrari.

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