In a golden age of concept cars that constantly demanded innovation and new ideas, the Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) 5, 7, and 9 were created for the Turin auto salons across 1953, 1954. and 1955, and were considered one of the most spectacular series of concept cars ever built.
Designed by Franco Scaglione and constructed by Carrozzeria Bertone, the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. concepts were all about pioneering aerodynamics and radical design features. Alfa Romeo set the brief and Bertone selecting the Alfa Romeo 1900 platform as the basis of the concept, Scaglione envisioned futuristic shapes through intuition combined with his knowledge in science and mathematics. The first of the trio, the B.A.T. 5, astonished the world with its pontoon fenders, nose vents, curved tapered fins, wraparound glass cockpit and more, that together created an otherworldly appearance. The purpose behind these stunning lines was to maximise airflow — B.A.T. 5 had a drag coefficient of 0.23 Cd, which is impressively low even by today’s standards — and it allowed for a top speed near 125 mph.
With the warm reception of the B.A.T. 5 at the 1953 Turin auto salon, Scaglione was invited to create a successor with emphasised characteristics of the original. The B.A.T. 7 featured narrower front air intakes, a lowered hood and lengthened tailfins, resulting in 0.19 Cd coefficient of drag — even though wind tunnel testing wasn’t available back in 1954.
The next year saw Alfa Romeo getting more involved in the design process. B.A.T. 9 was a roadworthy gran turismo interpretation of the concept. Changes were made for practicality, such as reducing the fins to improve rear visibility and eliminating the rear wheel skirts,while the front grille was aligned with the production models of Alfa Romeo.
For the very first time, the three B.A.T. concepts will be auctioned as a single lot in Sotheby’s forthcoming Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York on 28 October. Six decades after their birth and still in good condition, the trio has an estimate of US$ 14,000,000 to US$ 20,000,0000.