In the 1950s, designer Giuseppe "Nuccio" Bertone teamed with Alfa Romeo's Franco Scaglione to design a new, never-before-seen vehicle.
Built on an Alfa Romeo 1900 chassis, the cars were something straight out of a futuristic comic book. With sweeping lines, fins, and a long nose, the BAT-series vehicles looked more like a futuristic version of a plane than a car.
BAT stood for Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica, and these cars lived up to their name.
The first vehicle produced, just a year after its conception, was the Alfa Romeo BAT-5. The BAT-5 was the fifth version, but the first was produced as a metal body. The first four were simple models. The BAT-5 debuted in 1953 at the Turin Auto Show.
The Alfa Romeo BAT-7 followed the BAT-5 in 1954, and Bertone and Scaglione had worked so hard to get it ready to premiere at the Turin Auto Show that they ended up having to drive it to the show since they missed the shipping window.
The BAT-7 improved upon the already impressive aerodynamics. The drag coefficient was an unheard-of 0.19, according to
Since only a handful of these vehicles were made, and they made a huge splash the moment that they debuted, collectors wanted these cars. Of the trio, it's the BAT-7 that has the most interesting history.
Recently, all three were sold for $15 million, and the history of the Alfa Romeo BAT-7 started to unfold.
The most interesting part is also the saddest: one of the owners had the car for 17 years and unwillingly lost it.
His son had sold it without his knowledge.
The BAT-7 was set to be restored
The first owner, Al Williams, of the Alfa Romeo BAT-7, removed the storied wings for better visibility on the road. At some point, BAT-7 changed hands again and ended up with Colonel James Sorrell, and that’s when things get interesting.
In the late 1960s, Sorrell took the car to a shop in Van Nuys, California. Salvatore di Natale owned the shop and had built a reputation for restoring and working on Italian cars. Sorrell wanted di Natale to restore the BAT-7.
Di Natale jumped on the chance, but Sorrell never paid for the work, nor did he ever try to take the car back. In 1969, di Natale became the official owner of the car.
He had the car for 17 years and had wanted to restore it. According to The Drive, di Natale had been planning to restore the stripped wings.
Unfortunately, his son sold the car without his knowledge and caused a rift between them that kept them from speaking. According to a family friend interviewed by The Drive, di Natale never spoke to his son again.
At the time his son sold the car for somewhere between $14,000 and $17,000, it was almost immediately sold again for $1.3 million.
Your car might not be worth quite that much, but that's no reason to skimp on insurance.
Serena has a BA in Honors English Literature from California State University, Northridge. She has worked as an editor and writer for several years and has had various forms of content published in magazines, websites, anthologies, and more. Serena calls herself a modern "Renaissance woman" since she has a hunger for learning and strives to succeed in many fields. During her free time Serena enjoys acting, singing off-key to songs in the car, and working on her novel.