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The three spectacular Alfa Romeo BAT cars were sold last night (28 October 2020) for an appropriately eye-watering $14,840,000, at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York.
Achieving a price within the $14-20m pre-sale estimate, the cars were sold as a single lot, so will remain together.
Franco Scaglione’s incredible designs still look space-age today, so when the first of the Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica trilogy was unveiled in 1953, the impression it left was surely out of this world.
All three were based on Alfa Romeo’s 1900 and this is the earliest of these automotive jewels, BAT 5, which made its debut at the Turin show in May 1953.
Scaglione’s work in creating this car went through four full-size scale models before stage five when the metalwork was crafted.
Its Bertone-built coachwork sucks air into the radiator via the pair of vents at the front, while the car’s tapered rear, slender spine and curved fins aid aerodynamic stability.
And that former point is crucial because this, like all the BAT cars, is a fully functioning car, not simply an aesthetic flight of fancy.
For the blue BAT 7 of 1954, Scaglione pushed his ideas yet further – while BAT 5’s drag coefficient is said to be around 0.23Cd, BAT 7’s was 0.19Cd, plus it lost in the region of 200lbs, weighing around 2200lbs.
Everything is more pronounced: the bonnet is more than two inches lower, and those rear fins are longer and more angled.
It was still powered by Alfa’s four-cylinder engine and it’s just as well that this was no empty shell of a concept car, because work ran so close to its reveal at Turin in April ’54, that Nuccio Bertone and Franco Scaglione had to drive it there themselves at the last minute.
Alfa Romeo dictated that the final Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica design study should have more in common with the marque’s production models and be more practical, too, and the Giulietta grille, more conventional headlamps and the exposed rear wheels of 1955’s BAT 9d are clear nods to real-world motoring.
BAT 9d’s rear fins are scaled back, too, to improve rearward visibility.
The good news is that the three have been sold as a set so will be kept together – if they were put on public display, that would be even better.
Images: Ron Kimball/Darin Schnabel/RM Sotheby’s