by Gary Kaberle, former owner of the B.A.T. 9, and co-innovator and promoter of the B.A.T. 11.
18 February 2008
As we all wait for the famous Italian car styling company Bertone to decide whether or not the B.A.T. 11 concept car will debut at the Geneva Auto Show March 4-16th, I want to release a message of support. The new era B.A.T. 11 is painted and nearly ready for travel to Geneva now.
The B.A.T. 11 was a concept that I came up with to honor two of the most important parts of my life: my wife, Debbie, and the B.A.T. heritage, which when I bought the B.A.T. 9 when I was a 17 year old kid in 1963, was endangered as it is again today. As many automotive aficionados know, I spent the next 28 years restoring and showing the B.A.T. 9. During that time, I became an expert about this extraordinary line of vehicles, and a friend to many of those responsible for creating the original three B.A.T.’s.
As special as the B.A.T.’s were -- and the B.A.T. 9 was to me -- the B.A.T. 11 is far more important. In 1990, Deb, my wife of 12 years by then and the mother our children, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was told the cancer already had metastasized. Like so many women who face this disease, she was devastated by the diagnosis, but determined to fight. As she faced a certain death sentence, we learned of important new but experimental treatments being offered through the National Institute of Health. They were Deb’s only hope -- but they also cost a small fortune. There was only one way we could pay for them -- for Deb’s very survival.
I sold the B.A.T. 9.
Deb lived another two precious years we never will forget. As I struggled through my mourning -- which continues -- I pondered a way to help women avoid Deb’s fate. And that’s when the idea of the B.A.T. 11 came about.
What if the B.A.T. line was revived -- combining the revered heritage of these vehicles with an exciting new line of B.A.T. cars, equal in aerodynamic beauty but with 21st century technology? And if such a car could be built, and shown around the world, what if I could use that to bring awareness about breast cancer? I call it ‘Dreams and Design for a Cure.’
I began to think about designing and building such a car. But, while my passion and knowledge about B.A.T.’s was formidable, this was my quest, and I wouldn’t give up. Deb wouldn’t have wanted me to. I needed help. I knew the only people to talk to where those at Bertone. I went to Italy, we talked, and the B.A.T. 11 car began in earnest and faster than I ever expected. Alfa Romeo was set to provide a marquee and possibly a chassis as well.
I know certain forces have put into question a final decision on the display of the B.A.T. 11 in Geneva. I do not take sides and I do not judge. But I hope that ultimately the force of faith, hope and survival prevail -- that breast cancer can be prevented and one day healed -- prevails in this controversy. I hope this message of support for all of those who have worked to make this car a reality helps bring the B.A.T. 11 to Geneva and to the rest of the world.
Members of the AR1900 Register and other friends sympathetic to the cause may support Gary’s quest by emailing [email protected] to say they would like to see B.A.T. 11 appear at the Geneva Show.