Many believe that the 1969 Dodge Daytona and the 1970 Plymouth Superbird with their gigantic rear wings were the first and last of their kind. Obviously, there were numerous American cars from the late 1950s that had large tail fins. but none of these were first. Arguably, the largest and most exaggerated wings were seen on the early 1950s Alfa Romeo Bertone B.A.T. trio of concept cars.
What is a B.A.T.? It is a Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica. The three B.A.T. cars were all concepts built by Bertone and shown at the 1953 ( B.A.T. 5), 1954 ( B.A.T. 7) and 1955 ( B.A.T. 9) Turin Motor Shows.
Designed by Franco Scaglione, and styled by Nuccio Bertone, all three were built over Alfa 1900 Sprint mechanicals and were referred to as “Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica”. B.A.T. for the Americans! The acronym may have also been chosen for the rear of the cars’ bat-like look of the tail section.
Each car was powered by a four-cylinder engine with 90 HP and a five-speed gearbox. As weak as this might sound the combination was good enough to propel the cars to a top speed of 125 MPH which for the day was very impressive. As with the Daytona and Superbird, superior aerodynamics was the goal. With less drag coefficient a smaller engine can make up for fewer horses. The drag coefficient (cd) of 0.19 is better than most cars today. By comparison, the first-generation Dodge Viper, with its aerodynamic shape, had a cd of over .5; the 1994 Plymouth Duster had a cd of .42. ; the mid-1990s Eagle Talon had a cd of .36 considerably higher than the 0.28 of the 1969 Charger Daytona. That car set a speed record that held for 13 years, to be broken by about 1 mph in 1983.