Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica 5, 6, and 9—better known to automotive enthusiasts as the Alfa-Romeo B.A.T. cars—are on their way to a new home. The aerodynamic 1950s concept cars sold for $14.84 million at RM Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction on October 28 in New York. The presale estimate was $14M–$20M.
Hagerty auction editor Andrew Newton says bidding stalled at $12M before slowing rising in $250,000 increments.
“While these cars represent a pure mixture of form and function—and they’re incredibly aerodynamic even by today’s standards—their dramatic shapes are what make them so spectacular. For that reason, it made sense to put them in a contemporary art auction,” Newton says. “The price also makes sense or may even be a bit modest since it bought three of the world’s most famous concept cars—and they really do belong together.”
Bertone built the dynamic trio in 1953, ’54, and ’55 for the annual Turin Motor Show, exhibiting its artistic vision and hopefully inspiring other designers to expand reach for higher creative heights.
The B.A.T. cars were reunited under single ownership in the early 1990s. The last time they changed hands was in 2005, when they were purchased by the Blackhawk Museum for $8M.
B.A.T. 5, displayed at the 1953 Turin Show, was the final iteration of Scaglione’s full-sized models, following four prior attempts. It was based on the Alfa Romeo 1900, but it looked like nothing the public had ever seen. B.A.T. 7 was even more outlandish, but B.A.T. 9 resembled an actual road-going car more than its predecessors. All three were running, driving vehicles, and their impeccable craftsmanship make them true works of art.