The Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars (Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica) were futuristic styling exercises undertaken by Alfa Romeo and Bertone in the early 1950s to measure the effects of streamlining on a car's performance. Franco Scaglitone, Bertone's chief designer, produced another study based on the B.A.T. cars, but this time using the Giulietta floor pan and intended as a practical GR car. The prototype Giulietta Sprint Speciale made its debut at the Turin Motor Show in October 1957 and went into limited production in mid-1959.

The Giulietta model line of Alfa Romeo made its debut in 1954 with the Berlina, and became the model that set the Italian manufacturer back on the road to recovery after the devastation of the war. Its jewel-like twin overhead-camshaft engine, although just 1,290 cc in size, and developing a mere 65 bhp, provided exhilarating performance in the Bertone-designed Giulietta Sprint. It was soon appearing production racers, and to help the success, a Sprint Veloce model was introduced with an increase in power to 90 bhp. When Bertone offered this very special Sprint Speciale, the factory developed an even more powerful engine. To maximize on its power, a new five-speed gearbox was designed, which was then the first of its type in the world.

In the performance stakes, the Sprint Speciale was equally sensational. It had a top speed of 125 mph and 0-60 in 12 seconds. The roadholding befits the available performance. The bodywork is steel with alloy bonnet and trunk lid. Internally, the Speciale has an elegant and functional layout, comfortable sports-type seats and adequate space for occasional luggage. A plexiglass screen in front of the windshield prevents the wipers from lifting at speeds over 100 mph.

This exquisite example is one of the early "low-nose" models produced. Very limited information is available on these early pre-production models. Opinions differ on the numbers built although it is generally thought that around 113 chassis were designated. In all probability far fewer were built and only around 13 or 14 examples are known to exist today. The main variable characteristic is the more prominent drop in the nose with a more subtle edge to the fenders and the absence of bumpers.

The running gear and chassis are based upon the earlier 750 series, the latter being 2" shorter. Coachwork is much lighter than the later models and this example has an alloy hood, trunk lid, and doors along with plexiglass rear and side quarter windows. The Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale today is one of the most visually appealing of all post-war models. There are few examples left, particularly of the original Giulietta model, and to find a "low nose" version is even rarer. This example was restored in the early 1990s, has had minimal use since, and should appeal to any serious Alfa Romeo enthusiast.

{analysis} We have only seen one other "Low Nose" Speciale, that one being in Interlachen, Switzerland, where we stumbled upon it while walking back to our hotel after a Guggisberg auction there.

We have always found them to be one of the most desirable close Alfas ever built, having a svelte Borzoi look rather than the over-bumperedappearance of a stock Speciale.

We were sure this car would bring upwards of $30,000, as perfect Giulia and Giulietta Speciales seem to be in the $25,000 range.

However, the bidding staggered to a halt at $24,000. This was perhaps due to the condition of the car. While the aint was shiny enough, the entire car had a slightly disheveled feel to it, as if it had had a cursory restoration that was only skin deep.

Since the auction, we have been contaced by several Alfisti looking for more information about the car, and we have passed them on to Christies. If the owner can net $20,000 to $25,000, they should seiously consider selling the car. For a buyer, while this car may not have great appreciation potential, it will always stand out as a rare, beautiful Alfa in whatever venue it appears. -ED
Data and Photo courtesy Christie's Auction company, August 17th, 1997.{/analysis}

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