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Bertone brings back the BAT

2008-08-06 13:32
American dentist Gary Kaberle has made Bertone res

American dentist Gary Kaberle has made Bertone resurrect a famous design from the past, the BAT.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Bertone
Model BAT 11
Engine 4.7-litre V8
Power 337kW @ 7 000r/min
Torque 470Nm @ 4 750r/min
Transmission Six-speed paddle shift
Front Suspension Double wishbones, coil springs
Rear Suspension Double wishbones, coil springs
Bertone has celebrated its brush with liquidation by penning a production run of the radical BAT 11 concept car.

Back from the brink

When the famous Italian design house applied for bankruptcy protection last year November, just as rising oil prices and interest rates were starting to curtail automotive sales, many feared it would be the end for the famous Turin firm.

Italian authorities would never allow the design house responsible for the most beautiful supercar of all time – Lamborghini’s Miura – to go out of business. Subsequently Bertone management have been given the opportunity to restructure the company.

When nearly all of Bertone’s design contracts dried up in the traditionally self-sufficient Italian automotive landscape, the company was left cruelly exposed by the vacillations of a tumultuous and globalised auto market.

New, global presence

In order to redress this, Bertone’s management has expanded its portfolio by offering design services in burgeoning markets like China – providing bespoke styling solutions – and a consultancy in Detroit.

One has to question the wisdom of the Detroit move, with the American auto industry practically a financial year away from ruin. Bertone believes it can expand into the world’s largest auto market profitably though.

Bringing back the BAT

Ushering in this new era for Bertone will be a very limited production run of the Alfa Romeo 8C based BAT 11 shown at Geneva earlier this year; though the car’s unveiling not being part of the actual show – Bertone matriarch Lilli cancelled a booth booking – drew gasps from industry insiders in more ways than one when the BAT11 was unveiled at a nearby Geneva nightclub instead.

Although it may appear like an espresso addled Batmobile to most people, it has all those unique styling details which make industrial designers hyperventilate – much as the original Alfa Romeo BAT 5, 7 and 9 did in the 1950s.

The production run is rumoured to be between 25 and 50 cars only, with BAT collector Dr. Gary Kaberle (who fell in love with the original Alfa-Romeo BAT) a driving force behind the latest incarnation of the legendary BAT moniker. The car mad American dentist simply contacted Bertone and said he wanted to add a forth, new car to his BAT collection.

Kaberle had to sell his original BAT (which he bought in 1963 at age 17 no less) to pay for his wife’s breast cancer treatment; as an ode to her memory his name is down next to the first production version. Issues facing homologation though are the covered front fenders, which need to be able to move, and the intricate butterfly doors.

When the first BAT 11 eventually turns a wheel in anger with Karberle behind the wheel its Alfa-Romeo 8C chassis and 336kW 4.7-litre V8 should ensure performance commensurate to the arresting looks. Kaberle proudly displayed the concept car at the Meadow Brook Hall Concours held in Rochester, Michigan last week.

In characteristically Italian fashion one hopes the rejuvenation of a great design from the past will ensure a secure future for Bertone.

  • BAT is an acronym for Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica


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