My Car Quest

December 3, 2023

Innovation In Collector Car Auctions – The Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Cars

Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.)

by Mike Gulett –

The three Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars will be auctioned as a set on October 28, 2020 in New York at the RM Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction.

Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Cars

It is innovative that these three one-of-a-kind collector cars are being auctioned at an art auction along with other categories: 20th Century Design, Contemporary Art and Latin American Paintings. The only lot in the Vintage Cars category is the three Alfa Romeo B.A.T. concept cars.

Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Cars

I have wondered for a few years when the collector car world would cross over to look more like the art world, especially auctions and the protocols for auctions.

It seemed inevitable that RM Sotheby’s would lead the way here, after all RM was a collector car auction company (before the merger with Sotheby’s). Sotheby’s, founded in 1744, has specialized in art, jewelry, real estate and collectables.

RM Sotheby’s is also leading the way with an innovation in bidding procedures that I have never seen before in the collector car world but apparently is common in the art world. It does not mean it has not happened before in the collector car world it just means I have not been aware of it.

Read about it below in the words of RM Sotheby’s as they describe their “irrevocable bid from a third party”.

In the RM Sotheby’s Digital Catalog for this lot they disclose on the inside cover,

Guaranteed Property/Irrevocable Bid

The Consignor has been guaranteed a minimum price for this lot. When RMS provides a price guarantee to Consignor, it may choose at its sole discretion to subrogate some or all of its guarantee obligations to the Consignor with an irrevocable bid from a third party. A third party has provided RMS with an irrevocable bid on this lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated for providing the irrevocable bid by receiving a fixed fee and a contingent fee based on the final sale price.

So there you have it a third party guarantees a minimum auction price, which guarantees that the lot will sell in exchange for a fee to the mystery “third party”. Or this third party could wind up owning the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars. Or maybe just driving up the final auction price by bidding it up for an additional fee.

Does this indicate that the collector car auction market is maturing because it now has attributes like the art world? Do we really need or want innovations like this in the collector car world?

Hmm, something to ponder.

Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Cars

RM Sotheby’s writes about the cars,

1953 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 5
Chassis no. AR1900 01396

1954 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 7
Chassis no. AR1900C 01485

1955 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 9d
Chassis no. AR1900 01600

Coachwork by Carrozzeria Bertone

Design by Franco Scaglione

Estimate: $14,000,000 – 20,000,000

See the full RM Sotheby’s write up here.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Cars

All photos by Ron Kimball © 2020 RM Sotheby’s
Innovation In Collector Car Auctions - The Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Cars
Article Name
Innovation In Collector Car Auctions - The Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Cars
RM Sotheby's is leading the way with a change to their bidding procedures that I have never seen before in the collector car world.



    The last time I saw these cars they were in the Blackhawk Museum. They were in the same room as both Blue Ray I and Blue Ray II that were owned by Jim Simpson. All of them beautiful pieces of art. I believe the final hammer will go north of the estimate. Just my two cents.

    • Mike Clarke says

      I saw them in the same setting and they were stunning. The Lancia’s are so beautiful too. The Blackhawks lighting is a bit dark and the Alfa’s really looked much better on the green at Concorso Italiano. There you could see all the beautiful curves and lines .

  2. Wallace Wyss says

    If any category of car could be considered a “rolling work of art” it is the non-running for display only” concept car. They were built to show, not to drive or test. But even they have a way of getting out to the road such as the Modulo, built on a Ferrari 512 race car chassis. Some American “rescued it” and spent a bundle on getting a for-show-only car drivable. And you won’t have to worry about fake ones (like the many fake Warhol prints) because it takes damn near a million to build a concept. I hope big time art auctions feature more such cars. Who was it that said “You go where the money is…”

  3. Wallace Wyss says

    I knew it was some eminent statesman….

  4. SKIP HINOJOS says


  5. RM Sotheby’s writes,

    “RM Sotheby’s celebrated a historic evening with the sale of the renowned trio of Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica concept cars, B.A.T. 5, 7 and 9d, for $14,840,000 during Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, achieving the top sale slot and setting a new record for the most valuable post-war Alfa Romeo sold as a single lot at auction and one of the most valuable of any Alfa Romeo ever sold.”

  6. Wallace Wyss says

    I think they are to be congratulated for moving cars into the art realm. I mean you can’t drive your Van Gogh around, right?

  7. Lets hope the new owners show them to the public. These are just a few of Scaglione’s masterpieces.

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