There have been plenty of concept cars that haven’t made it to production. Automakers use concept cars to test the public’s reaction to a new design, showcase new technologies, or build interest. But what happens to a concept car, once the automaker gets done using it. Some get crushed, some get to into the automaker’s collection of important vehicles, and some make it into the hands of private owners.
On Wednesday, three concepts during the mid-1950s that influenced the Alfa Romeo design language are going up for action for the first time at the RM Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York. Those cars were the amazing Berlinetta Aerodynamica Technica (B.A.T.) concepts commissioned by Alfa. The three cars were created by the Bertone – the famed Italian design house and made their appearance at the Turin Auto Shows from 1953 to 1955.
The cars are being sold as a set, so there will only be one person taking these three vehicles home to their collection. The first of the set is the B.A.T. 5. It was designed for aerodynamic efficiency and had a coefficiency of drag (cD) of .23 thanks to twin tail fins, covered front wheels, and a swept-back roofline. The B.A.T. 7 featured curved tail fins and was the most aerodynamic of the trio with a cD of .19. The B.A.T. 9 was the closest concept of the three that could have made production. It featured the famed Alfa Romeo shield grille and featured exposed headlights that were covered with clear covers.
The three Alfa Romeo concept cars will be presented alongside highlights such as a Mark Rothko painting from 1958, masterpieces by Clyfford Still and Brice Marden from the Baltimore Museum of Art, as well as a spectacular Robert Ryman painting from 1980 which has resided in the Crex Collection since its acquisition from Konrad Fischer.
All three cars were seen together for the first time at the 1989 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The cars were purchased not that long after their appearance and went into a private collection. In 1992, the cars took the stage again together for Bertone’s 80th Anniversary celebration. But the third and final time that all three B.A.T. concepts were seen on the public stage together was the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The cars are expected to bring between $14 million to $20 million for the trio.