By Karl Schnelle
Alfa Romeo BATs, that is! Earlier this year, I heard from a fellow collector that AutoCult was making a small batch of 1:43 Alfa Romeos. Known for making models of strange, rare vehicles, I had to investigate. It turns out that AuoCult made them for a German distributor, Ravensberger Handelskontor, so the model appears in blue ‘Masterpiece’ packaging.
Perhaps because this is a commission, their Alfa is not all that strange or unknown like most AutoCults: it’s a BAT 7 from 1954. Here it is with its mini-me (a MicroMachine)!
Then, the same collector (thanks, Harvey) informed me in August that they released the BAT 5 in the same limited series. After a quick search, I had that BAT in hand as well!
Why is AutoCult doing these now, and will BAT 9 be far behind?
Franco Scaglione designed these three concepts while working at Bertone in 1953/4/5. BAT stands for Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica. If I remember correctly, they were restored over 10 years ago and are now owned by the same person. All three were united at Pebble Beach in 2006 (Motor Trend). As far as I know, the Blackhawk Collection has them now but not on display any more (Petrolicious). How unfortunate!
I am not sure if this is a global trend or not, bur several art museums here in the USA have presented special art exhibits on car design featuring the actual concept cars or classic collector cars. I am aware of the High Museum in Atlanta (2014), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (2015) , and the Frist Museum in Nashville (2016). I made a special trip to Nashville to see that exhibit because the three BATS were on display!
That was an amazing experience for me. To absorb all the angles and wings took some time. I was entranced enough to only get a few quick photos. I have a few other BATs in 1:43, but to see them in full-scale was a different experience.
Comparison to SMTS
Back in the 1990s, I bought the 5 and 7, and I assume they were fairly new then, by SMTS, 1:43 white metal made in England. I don’t think they ever did the BAT 9. Provence Moulage from France also did a 1:43 resin kit of the BAT 9. Looksmart from Italy might have come out soon after the SMTS with all three, but they were more expensive, and I did not think they looked better than the SMTSs I already had.
Here is the SMTS BAT 7; I hope the green background keeps you awake! This BAT is an old white metal handbuilt, but it has beautiful paint – a little grayer perhaps than the AutoCult. The SMTS is 1990s white metal technology and really nice, just missing the PE window surrounds, triple wipers, and recessed headlights!
The AutoCult and the SMTS are very similar in scale. The SMTS may be just slightly more narrow in the roof (on the bottom of the photo below).
Comparison to Bizarre
Then, about twelve years ago, Bizarre (a brand made by Spark) brought out all three in resin. Here is their BAT 5.
Looking at the AutoCult, I am glad I did not spring for the more expensive Looksmart several years ago! The older Bizarre is more bluish and wider in the photo below.
The Bizarre also has a lower stance and seems meaner. However, the new AutoCult seem closer in color, in stance, and in width. It was 1953 so a pretty high road clearance was probably common.
Their BAT 7 is below with the AutoCult on the right.
On the green background, the colors are about right on the two models. I think the full-size is a bit more bluish, but who knows how many times its been repainted? But without a birds-eye view at the Frist, I am not sure which one is more accurate on shape. The AutoCult/Masterpiece is again much more narrow and closer to 1:43 scale in wheelbase. The Bizarre is closer to 1:42, but is from 12 years ago!
In March this year, I attended the 1:43 get-together in Countryside, Chicago. Harvey brought his Looksmart BAT 7. So here are all 4 examples together in one place: AutoCult – SMTS – Bizarre – Looksmart!!!
Some people upgrade their collection and dispose of the older one when a better representation comes out. In this case, I think I will keep all my BATs. It’s fun to compare and contrast them!
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