Lender: The Blackhawk Collection, Danville, California

Sponsored by: BOHAN

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.

With this third iteration, an attempt was made to eliminate some of the earlier cars’ more exaggerated styling elements, and to integrate a few contemporary Alfa Romeo design cues. For the BAT 9, the air intakes were reduced in size, an almost conventional-looking Alfa vertical grille was used, and the tail fins were smaller and more angular than the dramatic and curvaceous appendages on the first two BATs. But the car is still a knockout, suggesting that had Alfa Romeo elected to duplicate it for production—which they never did—this design exercise could have been practical.

—Adapted from the exhibition catalogue essay by Ken Gross

Tim McGrane from the Blackhawk Automotive Museum discusses the Alfa Romeo BATs

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