Alfa Romeo contacted Giuseppe 'Nuccio' Bertone of the Bertone design house in order to commission three concept vehicles with extensive research on the effects of drag on a vehicle. The idea was to create vehicles with the lowest possible drag coefficient.
The cars where named BAT for "Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica and were built upon the Alfa Romeo 1900 chassis.
Each year between 1953 and 1955 at the Turin Auto show, Bertone and Alfa Romeo presented a BAT concept, the BAT 5, 7 and 9.
The cars were successful in their goal, the best achieving a drag coefficient of 0.19, an achievement even by today's standards.
For each of the cars, Alfa Romeo provided a five-speed gearbox and a powerful four-cylinder engine that produced more than 90 horsepower, good enough to propel the car to a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h).
B.A.T. 5 was first shown at the Turin Auto show in 1953.
The shape of the front aims to eliminate the problem of airflow disruption at high speeds. The design also aims to do away with any extra resistance generated by the wheels turning, as well as achieving a structure which would create the fewest possible air vortices.
The most surprising part of the car has to be the tail, with the length-ways rear windscreen divided by a slim pillar, and the two fins tapering upwards and slightly inwards, for a highly aesthetic finish.
Bertone had solved the problem of aerodynamic stability, creating a car with an excellent index of penetration, with a Cd of 0.23.
B.A.T. 7 was shown at the Turin Auto Show in 1954, a year after the BAT 5.
The BAT 7 took up the styling dictates of the previous model, the BAT 5, and worked them to the limit. For this 1954 design, as for the other BAT models Bertone added some elements from his experience working on wing profiles in the aeronautical industry.
The result was the exaggerated shape of the large, curved tail fins.
The nose was lower than the BAT 5's, and the protrusions where the headlights would normally be found stuck out even further.
The headlights were located next to the nose and moved to point down when used. The Cd was only 0.19.
B.A.T. 9 is the third and final BAT car to be made and shown at the Turin Auto show in 1955.
It was made to look more like the current Alfa Romeo models than the other BATs.
It has been called the best looking of all the BATs, but there are those who disagree.
The BAT 9 did away with the marked wing lines of the previous models in favour of a cleaner, more sober line.
The tail fins, which in the other two models, 5 and 7, had a real wing-like look, were sized down into two small metal plates, much like the tail fins in production on American and some European cars of the time.
Bertone transformed the highly creative styling of the two previous BAT models into design credibility, abandoning the extremes of the other designs.
Amid turmoil surrounding ownership of Bertone between managers and Lilli Bertone came this spectacular BAT 11dk prototype. It was ordered by passionate enthusiast Gary Kaberle who owned one of the three class BATs made by Carrozzeria Bertone. He provided initial sketches to Bertone had them realize his dream: a modern interpretation of the BAT 9d he once owned.
In 2008, Bertone dropped their typical stand at the Geneva Motor Show and instead privately released the BAT 11dk in the city of Geneva. Subsequently, it was shipped to Gary Kaberle in Michigan and shown for the first time at the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance.
The new car takes some design cues from the originals. The most prominent of these is the huge curved rear wings from BAT 7. Like the three cars, it also has a rounded greenhouse, excellent proportions and a hint of art deco futurism. One of the more unique features are moving fenders that make clearance for front-wheel steering.
BAT 11 carries the initials dk for Kaberle's late wife who died of breast cancer. The designer of the original BATs also fell ill with same disease "so we’re doing some things to dedicate the car to my wife and the Scaglione family" said Kaberle at the Detroit Auto Show.
Back in the sixties Nuccio Bertone designed a series of exceptional show cars of which his 5th, 7th and 11th designs became reality. Launched in consecutive years, the cars were made on top of the Alfa Romeo 1900 chassis. At the time, they were so far ahead of the scope of automotive design and so daring that they became legendary.
Unfortunately, BAT 11dk is only a non-functioning mock-up with operable doors, interior and drivetrain. Throughout the past year Gary Kaberle has displayed the car with hopes that someone might come up a couple million dollars to manufacture the design.
source: super cars.net
Story by Richard Owen