Monteverdi Sierra: the ultimate luxury Volare

Monteverdi Sierra instrument panel

From a specialty automaker known for their Mopar-powered exotics came the 1977 Monteverdi Sierra, closely based on Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare. The photos in the brochure, provided by Alexander Beyer, show a completely different exterior and interior, albeit with a similar dashboard layout to the Volare.

Sierra

Dietmar Frensemeyer wrote, “The Sierra was an Aspen body redesigned by Monteverdi (front, rear, and interior), built by my friend Rudi Wenger in Basel, Switzerland. About twenty were made, [including] one very nice convertible.” (There were at least two convertibles; one silver one in the museum, and a red one that was being sold in early 2016.)

The Monteverdi brochure, scanned and sent by Alexander Beyer, said in both German and English:

Timeless elegance enhanced by simple, clean lines, and an exemplary technical conception combined with high performance underscore the inherent quality of this automobile. The quality and high standard of its finish together with model consistency and the best grade of materials employed in its construction round out the exclusive character of the Monteverdi Sierra. ... The Sierra’s low production is another reason why this fine car will always retain its exclusiveness.

Sierra convertible

A well-proven V-8 engine of 5.2 liter displacement guarantees smooth yet powerful performance, with an acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 10 seconds, and a top-speed potential in excess of 200 km/h (120 plus mph). An automatic transmission, a finely tuned rear suspension with limited-slip differential, and adjustable shock absorbers make for comfortable driving and insure excellent roadholding as well as active safety. The entire concept of this luxury sedan is aimed at comfortable and safe high-speed cruising.

inside the monteverdia sierra, 1977

The weight was given as 1,600 kg (2,350 kg fully loaded). The 318 was rated at 160 DIN hp (116 kW) at 3,500 rpm and 39.6 mkp (382.9 Nm) at 2,000 rpm, on 91 ROZ octane fuel. The TorqueFlite transmission was mentioned by name.

monterverdi cars

According to the brochure, the front suspension had upper wishbones and lower horizontal arms combined with trailing radius rods, progressively acting coil springs, adjustable shocks, and stabilizer bar — unlike the torsion-bar Volare suspension. Gunther Poecker wrote that he had seen the cars and there was no wishbone suspension or coil springs:

Monteverdi Sierra carsI was lucky to get into the Monteverdi car collection in Basel, Switzerland as part of a group of men working in the car busines. As the owner of a 1983 M-Body New Yorker, I wanted to hear about (and maybe get a look at) the front suspension of the Monteverdi Sierra, which is supposed to differ from the regular F-body setup. One of the group was a bodywork specialist who did conversion jobs for Monteverdi on these cars, and he told me Monteverdi bought complete Aspen/Volare cars and reworked the front and rear ends. The only thing they changed, technically, was the front shock absorbers. During the visit, I was able to get a look from below at the front suspension of the black Monteverdi Sierra prototype which is shown in the catalogue pictures, and a silver Sierra convertible.

Sierra convertible

Ho told me they “simply cut down these cars front and back” and attached the Monteverdi panels; the front and rear lights are from the Fiat parts bin. Asked about the front end, he told me, “No changes, only harder damping. Monteverdi bought complete cars.”

There is one 318 engine behind the four door and the station wagon Sierra in the museum, this is also stock in all details including the air filter and oil pan. Output is given as 137 PS in the museum, which is stock for the US 318.

Mr. Poecker did not provide photos but referred us to a car sales site which showed a Monteverdi with a nearly-stock Volare engine bay, showing no evidence of suspension changes.

Again by the brochure, tires were 215/70 x 14, hubs 14x6. Brakes had an effective pad area of 900 cubic centimeters. The turning circle was 12.8 meters (wider than the Volare, but the tires were also wider). Acceleration was listed at around 10 seconds 0-60. Gas mileage was 14-20 liters/100km. Standard features included air, power windows, locks, and seats, steering wheel adjustment for rake and reach, cruise, and leather.

rear shot

Chrysler itself would eventually bring out a LeBaron version of the Volare/Aspen, but it would not be nearly as stylish or luxurious as the Monteverdi.

Other exotics using Mopar bits and pieces

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