Three of the most widely recognizable cars ever made, which quite literally shaped the way car’s look today as well acting as the proving grounds for aerodynamic technology are set to go under the hammer and for the first time as a full collection of the trio.
In 1953 Italian sports car manufacturer Alfa Romeo approached car design house Bertone also from Italy to conceptualise three vehicles to research the effect of aerodynamic drag on vehicles, and the result were three designs so futuristic and ground-breaking that they are still considered one of the finest concept vehicles ever created, The cars named BAT for “Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica” with three made consecutively from 1953 to 55 are now being offered at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York, by Sotheby which will be livestreamed on 28th of October.
The BAT cars were designed by Franco Scaglione and powered by Alfa Romeo and offered a drag coefficient of 0.23 for the BAT 5 which is what today’s flush supercars possess, and these were made from hand beaten panels and in a world without advanced computers. The BAT 5 was developed on the lines of air-flow movement around the car and thus shaped, powered by a 90hp four cylinder engine mated to a five speed manual which due to the extremely low drag coefficient was able to power the car to a speed of 125mph with ease. The protruding fenders, the sharp nose vents, glass cockpit with 45-degree side windows, tail fins made the BAT 5 an absolute milestone in automobile engineering.
The next year Franco attempted to reduce the drag coefficient even further, and achieved it with the BAT 7 which has a drag coefficient of 0.19 which easily beats today’s modern cars. The car features an updated design built upon the learnings from the BAT 5 and has a lower hood, longer and inward curled tail fins, narrower front air intakes and better angular pitch on the corners. The car was powered by the same powertrain as on the BAT5 and afforded slightly better speeds, and was showcased at the Turin auto show in 1954.
The final car in the original BAT series, the 9 showed Alfa Romeo offering more of its focus on the design and development, which was in larger part absent from the two former models and hence has the more proprietary design of the Alfa’s of those times, especially with the pronounced slated grille. Scaglione also designed the car inkling towards a more production oriented Gran Tourismo design and reduced the size of the rear fins to improve rear visibility and removing the rear wheel skirts altogether.
The three cars lived their lives separately and were only united at the 1989 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where Nuccio Bertone, the man who was responsible for their production was also present, post which the current owner acquired each car individually and completed the Triptych which are now being auctioned. To be able to offer these three truly spectacular cars which are amongst the most instantly recognizable and important pieces of automotive design ever produced is a once-in-a-generation opportunity according to Rob Myers, Chairman Sotheby’s, and the fact that they’re being offered as a triptych (art collection divided into three parts) is an even rarer opportunity.
Sotheby’s are expecting a hefty sum in the range of $14,000,000 to $20,000,0000 (INR 103 crore to INR 147 crore) for the trio of Alfa-Romeo’s owing to their significance, being one of the most widely recognizable concept cars on the planet while having played a massive role in advancing aerodynamics not just in the automobile industry but aeronautical too. The cars are marks under ‘cars as work of art’ and befittingly so.
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