The Cars That Money Can’t Buy: 1953-1955 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Concepts

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Unconstrained by the limitations of budget and the realities of manufacturing, concept cars afford talented designers the opportunity to explore their wildest and most progressive ideas. At their best, these dazzling, artistic creations invite us to totally reimagine what the automobile can be.

h/t: rmsothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

As in the world of fashion, however, car design evolves quickly; it is unusual to find a concept that remains relevant after its allotted time in the spotlight comes to an end, let alone one that is still compelling over six decades after its debut. Rarer still is the concept that transcends its role as a design exercise to embody the sculptural potential of the automotive form. And when it comes to a trilogy of concepts that effortlessly achieves both feats, there is but one spectacular example: The Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica series by Franco Scaglione.

Whether considered the ultimate three-movement concerto of automobile design or the only true automotive triptych ever produced, few will contest the greatness of the B.A.T. 5, 7, and 9d concepts. Hand-built by the storied Carrozzeria Bertone of Turin, Italy and introduced in 1953, 1954, and 1955, respectively, these cars were pioneering in their use of aerodynamics. With flamboyant aesthetics that simultaneously minimized drag for optimal performance, the B.A.T. cars were immediately and enthusiastically embraced by press and public alike.

Individually, each of the B.A.T.s is, without exaggeration, among the most important automotive concepts ever built. Presented collectively, their significance deepens: Uniquely in the automotive world, the B.A.T.s are best understood as variations on a singular theme, a complete work in three parts. Like a Francis Bacon triptych, examining one car in the context of the other two reveals new aspects of their forms, as well as the captivating details incorporated into the hand-shaped bodywork of each.

Put simply, since the inception of the internal combustion engine, no one vehicle—let alone an interwoven trilogy—has so compellingly explored the concept of the automobile as pure kinetic sculpture as the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 5, 7, and 9d.

The three Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars sold on October 2019, as a set, for $14.8 million.

BAT 5 was painted grey with red grilles, red upholstery and grey carpet.

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

For BAT 7 the original side profile was cleaned up; it featured fully faired-in cooling vents for the front brakes and larger intake scoops for those at the rear. Meanwhile, instead of exiting underneath the car (as had been the case with BAT 5), BAT 7 had its exhausts fully shrouded into the sides of the rear bodywork.

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

With little chance of significantly improving BAT 7’s extraordinary aerodynamic efficiency, Alfa Romeo decided to take a slightly different approach for the last car in the series: BAT 9.

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys

Ron Kimball/RM Sothebys


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Abandoned As A Baby Due To Albinism, Xueli Grew Up To Become A Vogue Model

1 in 20,000 people worldwide is born with a genetic condition called albinism, and you’d think people should be aware of it by now, given how easily accessible information is nowadays.

However, there is still a lot of stigma around it which is especially prevalent in places where people with this condition stand out from the crowd and make heads turn for all the wrong reasons, such as Africa or Asia. In China, albinism is seen as a curse or a crippling social and economic burden, so many children never get to go to a loving home after coming into this world. A baby girl was left outside an orphanage in China around 16 years ago because she looked different and was predestined to have no future, or, at least, a very difficult one.

More: Instagram h/t: boredpanda

Luckily, when she was 3, Xueli was adopted by the Dutch Abbing family and moved to the Netherlands to live with her new mom and sister. Unique looks led Xueli to the modeling industry at the age of 11, where she got a platform to celebrate differences, raise awareness about albinism, and inspire others to embrace their natural beauty. As of today, she has been featured in Vogue and has worked with the world’s greatest photographers and major brands in the fashion industry.

Albinism is an inherited genetic condition caused by the lack of melanin, the pigment formed in the skin, hair, and eyes. It occurs in all ethnic and racial groups and the levels of pigmentation can vary depending on its type. It can include various skin and vision complications, so albinos have to be extremely cautious. Xueli only has eight to ten percent vision, so her eyes are extremely sensitive to bright light. Because she can’t look at the light directly, you’ll notice that she is photographed with her eyes closed in most photos. Along with one of her photos on Instagram, Xueli shares about her experience:

“I hardly ever open my eyes during photoshoots, because the light is almost always too bright. When I do open my eyes, I mostly squeeze them…”

Xueli’s sister, Yara, who manages her social media and occasionally photographs Xueli, told Bored Panda:

“She works as a model in order to raise awareness around albinism and to show others that people with disabilities are ‘normal’ as well and can perfectly participate in society.”

Xueli shared her own story with BBC. She opened up about how the modeling industry is changing:

“In modelling, looking different is a blessing not a curse and it gives me a platform to raise awareness of albinism.

There are still models who are like eight foot two and skinny but now people with disabilities or differences are featured more in the media and this is great—but it should be normal. Models with albinism often get stereotyped in shoots to depict angels or ghosts and it makes me sad. Especially because it perpetuates those beliefs that endanger the lives of children with albinism in countries such as Tanzania and Malawi.”

Xueli is represented by a revolutionary talent agency, Zebedee Management, which focuses on people with disabilities and visible differences. The agency is trying to change the game in the fashion, advertising, and other media industries so that their campaigns are as diverse as our society.

Zebedee Management writes on their website: “Disability has often been left out of the diversity debate, and we often receive casting calls looking for ‘diversity,’ but with no mention of disability. Disability seems to be the last taboo—however, we want to change this. We want it to be the norm that advertising using people with disabilities becomes commonplace.”