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Alfa Romeo BAT to be auctioned: Italy's Batmobile


For some cars you simply have to offer more: SPIEGEL shows vehicles with famous previous owners and rarities that are being auctioned. This time: Alfa's holy trinity of aerodynamics.

Under the hammer:

The Alfa Romeo BAT 5, 7 and 9d, built in 1953, 1954 and 1955.

Why bid?

When did Batman actually drive an Alfa Romeo - this question springs to mind when you see the three sports cars.

The three vehicles are not only visually reminiscent of the mobiles of the avenger in the bat suit, the name also reminds of the superhero.

In fact, BAT stands for Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica - and indicates the purpose of the three unusual concept vehicles that build on one another.

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At the beginning of the 1950s, Alfa Romeo explored the possibilities of aerodynamic bodies with the cars.

This was at a time when design studies aimed at underlining the creative potential of companies and their developers were not necessarily yet common.

To do this, the manufacturer turned to the Turin-based coachbuilder Bertone, who until then had mainly built one-offs for wealthy customers.

With Franco Scaglione, they had the right designer ready for the project.

The designer from Florence originally studied aerospace engineering.

The assignment enabled him to combine his sense of aesthetics with his interest in mathematics.

He had previously worked for Italian fashion companies.

Bertone chose the chassis of the Alfa Romeo 1900 as the basis for the concept vehicles, while Scaglione set to work on the first model.

Thanks to his technical background, he knew exactly how the air could flow around the body with as little turbulence as possible.

First he created four models on a scale of 1: 1 before the first of the three BAT vehicles was completed in 1953 - which was therefore given the number five.

The gray and red vehicle looks like an airplane due to its curved tail fins and is astonishingly streamlined.

Besides the protruding fenders and the round nose, the teardrop-shaped, flat roof of the car contributed to this.

The BAT 5 achieved a Cw value of only 0.23.

For comparison: the Toyota Prius and the Tesla Model S, two aerodynamically favorably designed modern cars, have a drag coefficient of 0.24.

Thanks to the aerodynamic body, the BAT 5 was up to 200 km / h.

Despite the extravagant exterior, the car is approved for road traffic.

Scaglione cleverly hid the necessary headlights in the fenders.

They swing in front of the car's grille as soon as they are switched on.

The car was presented to the public for the first time at the Turin Motor Show in May 1953.

However, it only caused a stir for a short time, because the following year Bertone presented the BAT 7 at the same location. This model was also based on the chassis of the Alfa Romeo 1900. However, the great success of the predecessor encouraged Scaglione to emphasize its proportions more.

So the car's tail fins got bigger and more curved.

At the same time, the designer reduced the air inlets in the front and gave the BAT 7 an even lower bonnet.

But as with its predecessor, Scaglione wasn't just about visual effects.

All changes also served the aerodynamics.

The Cd value of the concept vehicle fell to an incredible 0.19.

However, doing this cost valuable time.

The car was only ready at the last moment for the motor show in April 1954 - so late that Nuccio Bertone and Franco Scaglione drove the car to the show themselves.

It was worth it: the car made it onto the cover of the Swiss magazine "Automobil Revue".

As fascinating as the two models were, the client Alfa Romeo hardly benefited from them.

It was probably also due to the fact that at first glance they in no way reminded of any of his models.

For the final model, called BAT 9d, planned for 1955, Alfa therefore specified that it should be better suited for road traffic.

So Scaglione turned the image bearer into a Gran Turismo suitable for everyday use: the tail fins shrank to what was customary at the time and enabled better all-round visibility.

The aerodynamically favorable but impractical rear wheel covers had to give way.

The most important change, however, was found at the front of the car.

It received the brand-typical Scudetto radiator grille - Scaglione's final BAT not only contained Alfa technology, it was also recognizable as such at first glance.


The auction house RM Sotheby's is auctioning the three Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica as a package on October 28 in New York and is expecting a price between 14 and 20 million US dollars.

Icon: The mirror

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2020-10-27

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