Lender: The Blackhawk Collection, Danville, California
Sponsored by: Brenda and Joe Steakley
Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone and his chief designer Franco Scaglione, a former aeronautics student and women’s fashion designer, dreamed of creating a series of cars that were not only visually stunning, but also aerodynamically efficient with the lowest possible coefficient of drag (Cd). The results were three of the most memorable concept cars in automobile history. Using the Alfa Romeo 1900 chassis, the two would develop a series of automobiles visibly influenced by the newly emerging jet aircraft industry. They were aptly named BATs, using the initials for “Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica.” The name was a perfect fit because the cars’ tail fin treatments were reminiscent of bat wings.
Just one year after unveiling the BAT 5, Alfa Romeo introduced the BAT 7 at the 1954 Turin Auto Show. The BAT 7 featured more dramatically curved and even longer tail fins than its predecessor. Scaglione lowered the BAT 7’s nose and reworked the flanking air intakes for still more aerodynamic efficiency. The center spine arched like a finned flying buttress before smoothly joining the rounded tail section. Many people consider the BAT 7 to be the most dramatic example of the wild 5-7-9 Bertone trio. The changes to the original design reduced the Cd to just 0.19, the lowest number achieved by any of the three prototypes.
—Adapted from the exhibition catalogue essay by Ken Gross