Alfa History


"The car had a streamlined design
and resembled a space object."


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[This story and the B.A.T. 11 photos are from the official B.A.T. 11 press kit released by Bertone.]

the B.A.T. 11, designed by Stile Bertone, brings back memories of an episode that marked the car sector in the Fifties and has evolved up to the present day, indulging a passion for cars mixed with vicissitudes of personal fortune.

B.A.T. - A Compendium of Aerodynamics and Technique

Let us take a step back in time. Fifty years ago, Nuccio Bertone and designer Franco Scaglione produced a number of precious car designs, joining creativity, innovation, good taste, and a touch of eccentricity. In 1952, they pretty much amazed everybody with a prototype for the Arnolt Bristol spider (the car went into production in 1954) and with the Abarth 1500. Aerodynamics and sinuous lines were the striking features of both cars.

During the same year, they designed the Giulietta Sprint 1300. The car was launched at the Turin Auto Show in 1954 and was a great success from the start. This long-lasting reputation almost stole the scene from an elegant family of prototype cars that were built upon the Alfa Romeo 1900 Sprint chassis: the B.A.T. 5 (1953), the B.A.T. 7 (1954), and the B.A.T. 9 (1955).

The state-of-the-art, futuristic design of these three sports cars was clearly based on the Abarth 1500, where research into more performance-oriented aerodynamics resulted in Scaglione’s unparalleled original and challenging design achievements. Indeed, B.A.T. stands for Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica, which has nothing to do with the English translation "bat" that fascinates Anglo-Saxons because of the vehicle’s rear curved fins, which evoke a flying object rather than a car.

Apart from these wonderful flights of the imagination, Scaglione applied his entire knowledge of aerodynamics and car design when developing the B.A.T. cars, which were also based on his study of research work carried out by Paul Jaray from France and Wunibald Kamm from Germany a few years before.

The American Student and the B.A.T. 9

All three prototypes aroused much interest worldwide as well as the interest of several collectors, and later went down in history as a pinnacle of Bertone style, giving way to new, amazing, exciting, and fabulous car designs.

Years later, while Bertone was looking to the future in Turin, a young American medical student and car fan by the name of Gary Kaberly had come across a strange red car sitting on the lot of a car dealer. The car had a streamlined design and resembled a space object. He asked his mother for a loan and bought the car without even actually knowing what it was. He found out a few years afterward, when a friend showed him a supplement of Road & Track featuring the B.A.T. 9 on the cover in its original, silver-coated design. The article inside described the car as a masterful creation developed by Italian car designer Nuccio Bertone.

Gary decided to restore the B.A.T. 9 in great detail and started exchanging numerous letters with Nuccio Bertone, who gave him all the necessary information. After completing the job, Gary, who had become a well-established dentist in the meantime, decided to exhibit the car at auto shows, often accompanied by his wife Debra.

The B.A.T Trio is Reunited

Later, in the early Nineties, Gary’s wife had to undergo expensive medical treatment, forcing Gary to sell his car, which was purchased by a collector from Las Vegas who also owned the other two versions. Hence, the "family" was reunited and is now among some of the most sought-after, top-rated collections in the world.

The treatment extended Gary’s wife’s life a couple of years. Following her death, he resumed contact with Bertone, asking him this time to add a sequel to the B.A.T. trilogy, and offering to take part in this new adventure.

The first step forward has been taken: It is called B.A.T. 11… Tiny Quadrifoglio



Some photos of B.A.T. 5, 7, and 9 (credit to Winston Goodfellow, New York Times)
 

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