|Peter Monteverdi, founder|
During the late 1950s and early '60s, Peter Monteverdi built, sold, and raced a number of "specials" called MBM, while at the same time developing the motor vehicle repair business founded by his father into a major dealership handling Ferrari, BMW, and Lancia brands. The relationship with Ferrari ended in 1963 when Enzo Ferrari demanded that Monteverdi pay up front for a shipment of 100 cars, which Monteverdi refused to agree to.
By 1967, he had decided to undertake series production of exclusive high-performance luxury sports and touring cars. The first model, the two-seater Monteverdi High Speed 375S coupé, was launched at that year's Frankfurt Motor Show and received very positive reviews. The car used a heavy and simple steel frame provided by Stahlbau Muttenz GmbH with an aluminium body designed by Pietro Frua. It looked quite similar to other Frua creations of that time, particularly the Maserati Mistral Coupé and the British AC 428. All the three were rumored to share some details, such as windows. The elegant-looking car was powered by a 440-CID (7.2-L) Chrysler V8 engine delivering up to 375 bhp (according to SAE standards) and had a luxurious interior finished to the highest standards. Eleven copies of the Frua-designed Monteverdi coupé were built from 1968 to 1969, then the alliance of Monteverdi and Frua split in anger. Not long before, Frua had built two 2+2 coupés with a stretched wheelbase. One of them was presented as Monteverdi 375/L; the other one stayed for some years at Frua before, in 1971, it was slightly modified and sold to AC, where it was presented as a one-off AC 428.
In 1969, Monteverdi chose the small Carrozzeria Fissore for further collaboration. Fissore redesigned the 375 Coupé and built the bodies that were then delivered to Monteverdi in Switzerland, where the cars were finally assembled. Now, the car has square lines, but still elegant proportions. The 2+2 form became the standard model, but subsequently other body styles were offered. First was a short-wheelbase two-seat coupé called the 375/S and - on the same short wheelbase - a drophead dubbed the 375/C. Those cars are extremely rare nowadays. Soon, Monteverdi also offered a large sedan called 375/4, and about 30 were built. Other variations on the same theme were the 1974 Berlinetta with a different front styling and Triumph TR6 tail lights, and another convertible, called Palm Beach, which remained a one-off.
The production of super luxury cars ended in 1976. By that time, Monteverdi had started the mass production of a new kind of car, well-equipped luxurious off-road station wagons. The first model was the Monteverdi Sahara. It was not a Monteverdi development, but a boutique car. Monteverdi used a mechanically unchanged International Harvester Scout, changed the grill, and tuned up the interior. The second model was the Monteverdi Safari. In this case, Monteverdi also used a Scout, but most of the bodywork was changed, once again designed by Fissore. In addition to standard Scout 5.0-L or 5.6-L (304- or 345-CID) V8. the option existed to install the 440-CID V8 from Chrysler. The car had a proper, almost Italian look, and it sold well, in Europe and the Middle East. Until the arrival of the Safari, Monteverdi's production had rarely strayed deep into the double digits (in 1971, before the oil crisis hit, about 60 cars were finished), but in 1979, production reached 350 (nearly all off-roaders).
Boutique era and declineEdit
As far as road cars were concerned, Monteverdi changed to the boutique car system in 1977 for these as well. The Monteverdi Sierra was a sedan with a 5.2-L V8 engine and distinctive looks. It was a Plymouth Volaré with slightly changed bodywork. With few modifications, it had similarities to the Fiat 130. Fenders, bumpers, grill and some smaller parts were modified: headlamps were taken from the Fiat 125 and rear lights came from the Renault 12. The rest - windows, doors and mechanical parts - remained unchanged. The Sierra soon was accompanied by a two-door convertible based on a Dodge Diplomat coupe, of which only two were made. Finally, Monteverdi also made a station wagon based on a Plymouth. It remained a one-off that was never sold.
When the production of the Volaré ended in 1980, Monteverdi chose another car to be converted. This time, it was the new Mercedes S-Class (W 126). The front got a massive chrome grille with four round headlamps, looking like an Alfa Romeo Alfetta (third series), while the rear lamps were provided by a Peugeot (505 sedan). It was announced in March 1982 for a price of 185.000 Swiss francs and badged as Monteverdi Tiara. It is unknown if serious production took place, particularly as the final design looked somewhat dated, being less aerodynamic looking, when compared to the Mercedes-Benz original.
In 1978 work began on a four-door version of the Range Rover. This was executed with the active cooperation of Land Rover, which also allowed customers to order Monteverdi Range Rovers directly from Land Rover dealers. The Range Rover Monteverdi was introduced in March 1980 at the Geneva Motor Show. While the design work was carried out by Monteverdi, the actual work took place at Fissore's factory in Savigliano. White two-door cars were sent directly by Land Rover with an extra set of doors for conversion. Following the introduction of Range Rover's own four-door model in 1981, Monteverdi ended their conversions in early 1982. Around 167 cars were built, although a range of other numbers has also been suggested. Car production in Basel ended by 1984. The factory was converted into a museum, the Monteverdi Car Collection, which opened in 1985.
In 1992, Monteverdi tried to re-enter the car scene with the Monteverdi Hai 650 F1 with no success. Two prototypes have been built, all residing in the Monteverdi Museum in Basel.
In 1961, Monteverdi modified one of his MBM Formula Junior cars to be eligible for Formula 1. The chassis was strengthened and lengthened to use a Porsche RSK sports car engine. Porsche refused to sell Monteverdi an engine, so he bought a complete RSK, removed the engine and tuned it to give about 150bhp. The MBM had a conventional space-frame and suspension. After having success in Swiss hill climbs, Monteverdi entered the MBM in the 1961 Solitude Grand Prix. He qualified last on the grid, and retired after two laps with engine problems.. The car was written off in a Formula Libre race in Germany, and the remains were buried in the foundations of a new car showroom built on the site of Monteverdi's old garage.
In 1990, Monteverdi returned to Formula 1 through his acquisition of the Onyx Formula One team from Jean-Pierre Van Rossem. The team was known as Moneytron Onyx until the British Grand Prix, with the team being renamed as Monteverdi Onyx for the German Grand Prix. This was their last race, with the team folding before the Hungarian Grand Prix.
List of modelsEdit
- Monteverdi Special (1950–1952)
- MBM Tourismo (1961–1962)
- Monteverdi High Speed 375S (1967)
- Monteverdi High Speed 375L (1969)
- Monteverdi High Speed 375C (1970)
- Monteverdi High Speed 375/4 (1970)
- Monteverdi 2000 GTI (1969)
- Monteverdi Hai 450 SS (1970)
- Monteverdi Palm Beach (1975)
- Monteverdi Sierra (1977)
- Monteverdi Safari (1976)
- Monteverdi Sahara (1978)
- Monteverdi Tiara (1982-1983)
- Monteverdi Hai 650 F1 (1992)
- Elliott, James. "The Monteverdi Hai – behind the wheel of the most elusive classic of all". www.classicandsportscar.com. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
- de:Monteverdi Palm Beach
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- Lösch, Annamaria, ed. (1981). World Cars 1981. Pelham, NY: The Automobile Club of Italy/Herald Books. p. 403. ISBN 0-910714-13-4.
- "All about the RR Monteverdi". Rangerover Monteverdi.com. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- Lawrence, Mike (1989). Grand Prix Cars 1945-1965. England: Aston Publications Limited. p. 200. ISBN 0946627460.
- Saward, Joe. "Fascinating F1 Fact: 4". joesaward.wordpress.com. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
- "MONTEVERDI". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
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