Three Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) concept cars were announced for the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale 2020 in New York.
RM Sotheby’s announced three Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) concept cars for Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York, live-streamed on 28th October 2020. Designed by Franco Scaglione and executed by Carrozzeria Bertone over 1953, 1954, and 1955, the three concept cars featured pioneering aerodynamics and radical design features. B.A.T. 5, 7, and 9 will be offered as a single lot with a presale estimate of $14,000,000 to $20,000,0000.
Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) Concept Cars
The three Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica Concepts are regarded by many as the seminal vehicle designs of the 20th century. B.A.T. 5, 7, and 9 were presented to the public over three consecutive years and are amongst the most spectacular and memorable automotive designs ever produced.
The three cars were more than just design studies and a showcase of what the world’s best panel beaters and craftsmen could create; they were also an incredibly effective demonstration of forward-thinking design engineering and advanced aerodynamics. Although designed around modest Alfa Romeo road car chassis, the cars stunned the public with a hitherto unseen blend of sculpture and efficiency, and with more than just a hint of fantasy and science-fiction resonating from each of the three designs.
The three B.A.T.s were never shown together as a triptych in period, and the cars were sold off following their respective show circuit runs. In fact, the cars were not united until the 1989 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, sharing the spotlight with none other than Nuccio Bertone, the man who oversaw their commission and construction.
Alfa Romeo BATS at Sotheby’s New York 2020
Shortly after this, the current owner individually acquired each car and the trio has been restored, maintained, and kept as a group ever since. They have only ever made very occasional public appearances over the past 30 years. The cars are being sold as a single lot and as design icons, and possibly the best example of ‘cars as works of art’, the cars will be offered by Sotheby’s at its New York Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 28th October 2020 with a pre-sale estimate of $14,000,000 to $20,000,0000.
Why are these cars not offered in a standard classic car auction? Simple, the New York contemporary art sale is where the real money is. At a similar modern art sale, Sotheby’s in 2017 sold the 2001 Ferrari F2001 Formula 1 single-seater racing car that Michael Schumacher raced to victory in the Monaco and Hungarian Grands Prix races sold for $7,504,000 — a record for a modern Formula 1 racing car.
1953 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 5
1953 B.A.T. 5 – The first of the Alfar Romeo B.A.T. concepts, Scaglione set about to produce a visually arresting design that absolutely maximized airflow, and ultimately created a car of spectacular drama. Working with airflow as the essence of how to develop the lines of the vehicle, the completed concept was appropriately dubbed the Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica 5, or B.A.T. 5.
As with its successors, the running gear was sourced from the Alfa Romeo 1900, but it is a notable fact that the automaker would remain relatively uninvolved with the design process until the final design, the B.A.T. 9. The output from this four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission, was approximately 90 horsepower, yet the wind-cheating lines afforded the car a top speed approaching 125 mph. This remarkable performance was thanks to its drag coefficient, calculated at an incredibly low 0.23 Cd – impressive even by today’s standards. It’s pontoon fenders, nose vents, wraparound glass cockpit, tapering tailfins, and wheel skirts, all combined to produce both aerodynamic efficiency and a design considered to be, almost literally, ‘out of this world’.
1954 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 7
1954 B.A.T. 7 – Having served its purpose, B.A.T. 5 was essentially mothballed after the 1953 show and work commenced on an updated version, soon to be known as the B.A.T. 7.
Given the first car’s success, Scaglione was encouraged to emphasize various characteristics of the original, and he obliged by narrowing the front air intakes, lowering the hood by over two inches, and lengthening the tailfins while adding increased angular pitch to the extremities. The rear wheel skirts and pronounced side vents remained. The resulting design’s coefficient of drag was, at 0.19 Cd, even more remarkable than its predecessor. This figure is lower than many 21st-century supercar designs, and this was achieved in 1954 without wind tunnel testing or computer-aided design. A remarkable feat.
1955 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 9
1955 B.A.T 9 – The final of the three cars saw Alfa Romeo take a greater interest in the design process, largely driven by a desire to make the car both stunning visually but also with more consideration given to applying the design for road use.
For B.A.T. 9, Scaglione explored a roadworthy gran turismo interpretation of the theme with the fins reduced in size to improve rear visibility, and the rear wheel skirts eliminated. A new pronounced beltline was added toward the rear, while a standard production triangular Giulietta grille, including the famed Milano crest, was fitted to the front grille, highlighting the car’s identity as an Alfa Romeo. Despite this more practical approach to the design, the result proved to be the crescendo of the design iteration and was much admired for its jet-age design that perfectly combined both form and function.