BAT 11 Out of Hell?

August 4, 2008
Bertone BAT 11

Bertone BAT 11

By all rights, the BAT 11 simply shouldn't exist.

The incredibly sexy sportscar, pictured above, is the work of the folks at Stile Bertone. Certainly, you've heard that name before. It's penned the designs for a long procession of over-the-top autos, such as the Lamborghini Countach. But when work began on the BAT, successor to a rare and exotic breed of past concepts, like BAT 9, the Italian design house was in serious trouble.

As the year began, Stile Bertone was written off, with even its owners ready to pack it in. But Gary Kaberle, a dentist from Traverse City, Michigan, wasn't quite ready to call it quits. As a young man, he'd stumbled onto a slightly beat-up sportscar called the BAT 11, which he picked up from a local dealership for a couple thousand dollars. Years later, he sold the one-off collectible for what is estimated to be in the millions, in order to pay for his now-late wife's chemotherapy.

Kaberle push hard to get Bertone to update the BAT 9, and it was scheduled for a splashy debut at the Geneva Motor Show last March. Unfortunately, with the company expecting to close, its display at the big exposition was canceled. And that might have spelled the end had not a few Bertone designers quietly continued working on the BAT 11 on their own time. Eventually, they got it completed and arranged to have it delivered to a party in Geneva, where just enough folks saw the concept to turn it into an instant classic.

And to generate renewed interest in Bertone. The styling house now reportedly has about 20 projects going, enough to keep its doors open.

As for BAT 11? Roland Martin, Bertone's business development director, tells the Detroit Free Press' Mark Phelan that anywhere from 25 to 50 of the striking coupes could be produced. How much? Since you asked, you probably can't afford one. But if you happened to attend the annual Meadowbrook Concours d'Elegance in suburban Detroit this past weekend, you would at least have gotten to see the concept car that someday we may say saved the legendary house of Bertone.

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