3 incredible reunited Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T) Concepts will be sold as one lot at a forthcoming Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 28 October. B.A.T. 5, 7, & 9 were presented to the public over three consecutive years and have firmly lodged themselves amongst the most diverse and memorable designs ever produced.
The fascinating and dazzling automotive trio were produced by Bertone with an unconstrained budget for the Turin auto salons through 1953, 1954 and 1955 and are regarded by many experts as the seminal vehicle designs of the 20th century.
Futuristic looks and built on modest Alfa Romeo road car chassis, the eye-catching machines embrace fantasy and science-fictional vision while utilising some of the world’s greatest panel beaters and craftsmen.
1953 B.A.T. 5
1953 B.A.T. 5 was the first of the B.A.T. concepts with Scaglione looking to produce a visual spectacle hitherto never witnessed before in a design that 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.
Alfa Romeo 1900 running gear was used in all three vehicles 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. Five-speed transmission coupled with the four-cylinder power unit delivered around 90 hp; aerodynamics were so impressive an eye-watering top speed of 125 mph could be achieved
This remarkable performance was thanks to its drag coefficient, calculated at an incredibly low 0.23 Cd – significantly low 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 design considered to be, almost literally, ‘out of this world’.
Following the success of the Michael Schumacher Ferrari F1 race car in our November 2017 evening sale, we are thrilled to again present an exceptional example of automotive design in our Contemporary Art auction. Designed and executed in the early 1950s, the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. automobiles represent the great creative ingenuity that marks post-war Italy and the European avant-garde at this period in history.
Presented in the context of our Contemporary Art Evening Sale, alongside works by titans of post-war Italian art and design such as Lucio Fontana and Carlo Mollino, the sheer radicality, sculptural brilliance, and unique artistic vision of these automotive icons will be even more magnified.
1954 B.A.T. 7
1954 B.A.T. 7 arrived a year later following B.A.T. 5, which 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 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 B.A.T 9
1955 B.A.T 9 was the final of the three cars and saw Alfa Romeo taking 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 newly 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.
The current owner individually acquired each car after 1989 and the trio has now been restored, maintained and kept as a group ever since. They have only ever made very occasional public appearances over the past 30 years and the cars are undoubtedly one of the most important single collections of vehicles in existence. The cars will be offered by Sotheby’s at its New York Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 28th October with an incredible pre-sale estimate of $14,000,000 to $20,000,0000.
1953 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 5
Chassis no. AR1900 01396
1954 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 7
Chassis no. AR1900C 01485
1955 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 9d
Chassis no. AR1900 01600
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Bertone
Design by Franco Scaglione