As much as we ding it for reliability, Alfa Romeo’s sense of style and design is definitely praise-worthy. Some of its classic models, like the SZ, were admittedly a bit out-there for some. But others, like the GTV6 and the Montreal, have earned high marks for their looks. However, some of the Italian marque’s most iconic models were actually concept cars, never released to the public. But now, you have a chance to own one of the storied Alfa Romeo BAT concepts.
The Alfa Romeo BAT concept cars: where art met aerodynamics
Today, automotive styling is done in-house by dedicated teams. However, in the car’s early days, dedicated coachbuilders like Touring Superleggera designed and built car bodies. And in the post-WWII years, automakers often commissioned design houses like Touring, Pininfarina, and Bertone to style and even build concept and production cars. Many classic Ferraris, for example, have been styled by Pininfarina.
Fellow Italian design house Bertone, though, has been equally prolific. It created the Lancia Stratos, the Lamborghini Countach, several Fiats—including the Dino Spyder—and the Ferrari 308 GT4. And it also styled the Alfa Romeo Montreal. However, some of Bertone’s most innovative early work is seen on the Alfa Romeo BAT (Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica) concept cars.
The Alfa Romeo BAT models are a series of concept cars made to investigate aerodynamics, Hemmings reports. Alfa wanted to see if sleeker designs could make its cars faster and more stable at high speeds, Hertz explains. So, it commissioned Bertone to investigate.
The first car, the Alfa Romeo BAT 5, debuted in 1953, Automobile reports. The BAT 7 and 9 followed in 1954 and 1955, respectively. Underneath the Alfa Romeo BATs’ be-winged bodywork are 1900 Sprint chassis and powertrains. And, not only do they run, but their designs have genuine aerodynamic benefits, Hagerty reports.
The BAT 5 is faster than the standard 1900 Sprint, Classic Driver reports, and has a drag coefficient of 0.23. That makes it more aerodynamic than the Toyota Prius, Car and Driver reports. And the Alfa Romeo BAT 7’s drag coefficient is just 0.19, Classic Driver reports. That’s better than even the brand-new Lucid Air, Yahoo reports.
The original Alfa Romeo BAT concepts are up for sale
While the Alfa Romeo BATs never went into production, they did influence car design, Petrolicious reports. The C2 Corvette shares a few elements with the BAT 9, including the split rear window. And the lessons Bertone learned from the BATs helped it design the later Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale.
Interestingly, the BATs never appeared in-period at the same auto shows. BAT 7 briefly raced, Automobile reports, but they all ended up in the hands of individual collectors. All three reunited in 1989, though, and sold as a set in 1990. And since 2005, the Blackhawk Museum has been the owner, Hagerty reports.
But now, they’re all up for sale once more, The Drive reports. The Alfa Romeo BAT 5, 7, and 9 will cross RM Sotheby’s auction block on October 28, 2020. Which means you have the opportunity to own a genuine Italian BATmobile.
These bodacious Bertones won’t be cheap, though
However, getting these concept cars won’t be easy—for your wallet, that is. Firstly, RM Sotheby’s is selling the BATs as a set, not individually. So, if you want one, you’ll have to get them all.
Secondly, early estimates peg the final price at $14-$20 million, Autoblog reports. Individually, that won’t place them on the list of most expensive cars sold at auction. But that’s still more than a Bugatti Chiron costs.
Still, if any cars can be called works of art, these BATs certainly can.
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