Monteverdi: Exotic / luxury car with Chrysler powertrains and bodies
Peter Monteverdi was a Ferrari dealer in Geneva who became a cottage industry car manufacturer himself, building Italian-looking exotics with MoPar power.
Automobiles Monteverdi Ltd. was founded in 1967, and is said to have employed 170 employees and produced 1300 automobiles in 1976. Unfortunately, Peter Monteverdi himself was reportedly not the most friendly character, and the cars were rust-prone, possibly due to carelessness in preparation of the unique bodies. This limited the success of the company and cars.
Most Monteverdis were exotics, with something of a Ferrari/Maserati look to them and powered by Chrysler's hottest V-8s, including the 426 Hemi (used in the first Monteverdi Hai, shown below) and the 440. There were four cars in the Hai series — two in the 1970s (one Hemi and one 440) and two relatively modern revivals.
The Monteverdi “High Speed” was a Ferrari-like four door sedan with 440 standard and 426 optional, your choice of 4-speed or Torqueflite 727. The Monteverdi Sahara appears to be a rebodied International Scout 2. It came standard with an International 345, but had a Chrysler 440 option. Bob Sheaves wrote that the Sahara used the Chrysler A-727 automatic.
Monteverdi Sierra: the ultimate luxury Volare
In 1977, Monteverdi brought out a less-expensive car, the Sierra, which appears to have been based on Chrysler's Aspen/Volare bodyshell. The photos in the brochure, provided by Alexander Beyer, show a completely different exterior with different seats, but similar interior space and a dashboard configuration which appears to be that of the Aspen/Volare with different gauges and trim to provide a custom look.
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.
The Monteverdi brochure, provided by Alexander Beyer (who also supplied the scans on this page), 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 qualitiy 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. This unique and exclusive automobile will be seldom seen. Only where people of good taste meet. The Sierra’s low production is another reason why this fine car will always retain its exclusiveness.
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.
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 transmission was actually named as the TorqueFlite.
The body was unitized; the front suspension had upper wishbones and lower horizontal arms combined with trailing radius rods, progressively acting coil springs, adjustable shocks, and stabilizer bar. This was a departure from the F bodies, which did not use coil springs, though the lower horizontal arms sound like the F-body torsion bars.
Tires were 215/70 x 14, hubs 14x6. Brakes had an effective pad area of 900 cubic centimeters. Turning circle was 12.8 m. Acceleration was aboout 10 seconds 0-60. Gas mileage was 14-20 liters/100km. Several colors were offered; standard features included air, power windows, locks, and seats, steering wheel adjustment for rake and reach, cruise, and leather.
The Sierra cabriolet appears to be based on the Aspen/Volare coupe but with the top removed and extensive remodelling.
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 - nor would it have the same power rating (the 318 would always take regular gas and produce 150 hp or less), or the Monteverdi high-performance suspension.
The Monteverdi 375
The 375 was, according to Dietmar Frensenmeyer, one of Monteverdi’s two successful lines (along with the Safari, a rebodied, rust-prone Scout 2 with production of 1,000 by Rayton of Italy); Bob Lutz bought one of the rare 375s imported into America. John Predgen sent us a brief clipping which called the 375 a four-passenger sedan that was too small for four people. Produced from 1967 to 1969, the 375 boasted a Chrysler 440 V8, mounted close to the firewall for better balance; Bob Lutz claimed it was good for 0-60 in 6.3 seconds, good for the time (partly due to the tires and suspensions of contemporary muscle cars).
The Monteverdi 375 used square-sectioned steel tubing for the chassis, with a double-wishbone, coil-spring front suspension and de Dion tube axle in back. Only about ten were made; about five were brought into the US, just two in 1968 (Lutz's year), with a special exemption from Department of Transportation requirements. As a luxury car, it was equipped with a Becker radio and power windows, brakes, and steering. The 375’s front suspension was probably adapted for the later Sierra.
Nick Challacombe wrote that Bristol used Chrysler 360 engines up to 1986, and in the 21st century made a new model (the Bristol Fighter) using the Viper's engine. It started at around £200,000.
From Bristol’s web site: “At 3500 rpm the standard Fighter produces 525 lb.ft of torque. The Fighter T delivers more than 900 lb.ft at the same rpm, and continues to do so all the way up to the rev limit of 6000 rpm. Styling changes mean the T's drag factor is reduced to 0.27 by a new rear wake diffuser, and a potential maximum speed of more than 270 mph has been electronically limited to a more than sufficient 225 mph at 4500 rpm. 0 to 60 mph is achieved in less than 3.5 seconds.”
The Fighter T used a turbocharged Viper engine. “The latest engine is an all-aluminium 8 litre V10 with 9.3:1 compression ratio, two ball bearing water cooled turbochargers with intercooling, uprated engine internals, high flow cylinder heads with high lift camshaft, a high capacity cooling system and catalysts. The free flow exhaust exits at the side of the car. All of these revisions mean an output of 127 bhp per litre, that's 1012 bhp at 5600 rpm, with 1036 lb.ft of torque available at at 4500 rpm.”
Other exotics using Mopar bits and pieces
- Jensen Interceptor
- Jensen FF (pioneering 4x4)
- Facel Vega (“early Hemi” powered, with TorqueFlites)
- The Consulier GTP was the fastest Chrysler 2.2 powered car ever made
- The Maserati Quattroportte used a TorqueFlite behind their own V-8. (thanks, Bob Schmitt)
- Lamborghini used a rear-mounted Chrysler V-8 in a concept military vehicle (the LM); the concept was destroyed in testing.
- Zack reported that the 1974 Bricklin SV1 started out with the 220HP AMC 360 V8 engine. The sports car used many other AMC parts in its run.
- The 1966 Duesenberg Model D prototype used an Imperial chassis and powertrain; production was close when the company apparently ran out of cash.