As was the custom at the time, the 1922 Alfa Romeo RL (designed by Guiseppe Merosi) was offered to coachbuilders as a rolling chassis – the frame, engine, suspension, brakes, etc., which then built the body according to individual customer’s requirements. Zagato, which is still in business today in Milan, built the greatest of the Alfa Romeo RL cars, the RL Supersport Zagato, in 1926. Right from the start three different chassis options were offered: the Normale, the Turismo and the Sport. By the standards of the day, the Alfa Romeo RL was a real top of the line automobile: large, comfortable and aggressive, not to mention quite beautiful. On a site note, one of the RL was raced in the Targa Florio by none other than a very young Enzo Ferrari.
While the RL isn’t really a fast car by today’s standard, back then it was quite the racing machine. Fitted with a 2.9-liter, straight six engine, it could achieve a top speed of 150 km/h (93 miles an hour). This performance was achieved using a Zagato sport version. Because different coach-builders built the bodies differently, significant performance differences exist between cars, mostly because of the weight.
The 1922 Alfa Romeo RL remained in production, essentially unchanged, until 1927. While over 2,600 of them were made – an impressive figure for the time – relatively few survive to this day, making them quite the rare find.