1924 Alfa Romeo RL Corsa TF11
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First a bit of history for context. Portello’s Ufficio Progetti started the design of the post-WW1 sports purpose RL type cars (Romeo Lungo), with inline six cylinder engines, in 1920.
The first prototypes of the road versions were already testing in the second half of the following year in Milan. Alfa built multiple versions of the RL in the mid 1920s, the Super Sport version that became successful in motorsport, and was widely campaigned in Italian race series with works drivers, including renowned names like Enzo Ferrari. Before the SS cars though, Alfa fielded specially-built racing versions of the RL type for the Targa Florio, so-called “RL TFs.” In 1924, they brought four of these to the starting line.
Modifications included seven main crankshaft bearings in place of the standard four, front wheel disc brakes, and smaller V-radiators than those found in the road-going Sports models. As reported by experts Peter Hull and Roy Slater in their “bible,” Alfa Romeo: A History, Giuseppe Campari and Louis Wagner drove three-liter-engined cars, while Alberto Ascari and Giulio Masetti raced 3.6-liter versions with the engines developing 125bhp at 3,800rpm.
The stage on which the Alfa Romeo RL achieved its greatest triumphs was the Targa Florio, where it secured a one-two finish in 1923 (in the two-seater spider configuration). Ugo Sivocci piloted the winning car and a third RL finished in fourth place. Sivocci’s car was the first painted with a green cloverleaf on a white background, which would later become the hallmark of Alfa Romeo competition cars and sportier production models. Numerous racing drivers enjoyed success after choosing the RL, from Giulio Masetti and Antonio Ascari to Giuseppe Campari and a young Enzo Ferrari.
The 1923 edition of the Targa Florio served up a barnstorming finale. Alfa Romeo entered five RL models driven by: Antonio Ascari (the father of future Formula 1 World Champion Alberto), Giuseppe Campari, Giulio Masetti, Enzo Ferrari and Ugo Sivocci. On the fourth and final lap of the Madonie circuit, Ascari emerged first from the hills, but around two hundred metres from the finish line his car broke down and stopped on the Cerda station bend. With the help of mechanics, who climbed into the car with naive enthusiasm, Ascari managed to cross the finish line first, but the race commissioners ordered him to retrace his steps and finish the race without the extra passengers. In the meantime Sivocci, who had been in second place until that point, took over the lead and clinched the first of Alfa Romeo’s ten victories in the Targa Florio, as well as the first international triumph for the Milanese car maker.
The example pictured here, with chassis designation TF 11, is widely believed to be that of Giulio Masetti, and is recognizable as such by the fact that at the time when this car raced, the number of chassis used to be the same as the number of the driver. The history of this particular car is highly detailed in a vehicle registration document that is “A museum item in and of itself, ” the owner enthuses.
“Every annual road tax is noted, and every handover between previous owners has been noted in black and white as well.” After the 1924 Targa Florio that this car competed in, Alfa Romeo sold this TF—without the body—to Mr. Frederick W. Stiles, the first Alfa importer in Great Britain, as part of the concessionaire agreement. While in the Britain, the car raced in different classes, both with the three-liter and 3.6-liter engines, and was road registered with the license plate “XX 5060” in March of 1925, registered in the name of: “Alfa Romeo British Sales Ltd.”
The TF would change owners almost every month during the first two years in the UK, each time returning to the dealer in between, suggesting that it was likely rented out to various people for competitions, after which it was always re-registered in the dealer’s name. In other words, it was enjoyed often and by many. Somewhere along the line, its bodywork was set as a two-seater with a pointed tail done by A. E. Leadbetter.
A starter motor, headlamps, and a dynamo were also added in its post-Targa life. In the early 1960s, it was raced in Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) events in the UK until Earl Giovanni Lurani bought the car and brought it back to Italy at the end of the decade. He was a very well known gentleman driver who completely rebuilt the original Targa Florio body of the car, which was then passed down to his daughter Francisca, who owned the RL TF from 1995 until 2014, which is when the sale to the current custodian occurred, more than 40 years after the last handover.
Enzo Ferrari in the back of TF11, what a moment!
Conte Giulio Dainelli da Bagnano Masetti
(1895 – 25 April 1926) was an Italian nobleman and racing driver, known as "the lion of Madonie" from his dominating the Targa Florio in the early 1920s.
Born in Vinci, he was the older brother of the racing driver Conte Carlo Masetti, both living in Castello di Uzzano, a palace in Greve in Chianti owned by the Masetti di Bagnano family since 1644.
Masetti acquired his first car, a 4.5-litre Fiat S57 B14 from Antonio Ascari, in which he was fourth at X Targa Florio (1919), and won the XII Targa Florio (1921). The next year, he won XIII Targa Florio in his privately entered ex-Otto Salzer 1914 Mercedes 4.5-litre 115 HP 18/100 (1922). Masetti then raced an Alfa Romeo RL TF (second at XIV Targa Florio, 1924) before joining the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq team. He was third in a Sunbeam 135 bhp 2-litre at the 1925 French Grand Prix, but failed to finish the San Sebastián Grand Prix (1925) and the II Rome Grand Prix (1926).
He died at Sclafani Bagni, Sicily, during the XVII Targa Florio, while driving entry #13, a Delage 2L CV. A stone plaque is erected at the place. Since this incident, the entry #13 is no longer issued at Grand Prix events.
Masetti finished fourth in 1923 with the RL, and in 1924 he finished second after a tough battle with Mercedes works driver Christian Werner!
"Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience." P. Coelho