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by Gunther Poecker, Dietmar Frensenmeyer, and David Zatz
The Monteverdi 375 was one of the exotic car company’s two successful lines, along with the International Scout-based Safari. Produced from 1967 to 1969, the Monteverdi 375 boasted a Chrysler 440 V8, mounted close to the firewall for better balance; the radiator was hand-made, either for better cooling or to fit the lower grille. (Note the standard Mopar alternator and AirTemp compressor, with a fully custom front and rear suspension.)
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, with a special exemption from Department of Transportation requirements.
Bob Lutz bought one of the rare 375s imported into America, and claimed it was good for 0-60 in 6.3 seconds, quite good for the era. As a luxury car, it was equipped with a Becker radio and power windows, brakes, and steering.
The 375-horsepower (gross) Monteverdi 375S had a standard Chrysler 440 Magnum V8 with a Carter AVS carburetor, generating 481 lb-ft of torque with 10.1:1 compression.
Another option was the 406SS; essentially the same car, it generated 406 (gross) horsepower through dual four-barrel Carter carburetors. A 168 mph top speed was claimed for that model.
The cars reportedly had a manual-transmission option (it may not have been available in all years), but most had the TorqueFlite three-speed automatic. Air conditioning was standard.
Monteverdi wisely jettisoned the (admittedly well tuned) Chrysler leaf springs in back, using a de Dion axle instead, with trailing arms and a Watts linkage for stability. Rubber bushings isolated the welded-on body at key points.
The tubular-steel chassis was set up at Monteverdi’s own facilities, then shipped to Italy to have the body made and welded on. Initially, Frua made and styled the bodies, including the red prototype and blue 375 L prototype.
According to the Museum and the Monteverdi book by Roger Gloor, Frua was not able to make the needed number of cars, but he also wouldn't allow Monteverdi to use his body design. Therefore, Peter Monteverdi styled the later bodies, made in Italy by Fissore. These had single faired-in headlamps on 375 S and C, and four headlamps in the higher grille on 375 L and 375 Series 4 cars.
Fissore also built the Palm Beach and Berlinetta, but there’s only one of each.
The build quality of all the Monteverdi cars, but especially of the 375 series, is of the highest order: bodywork, window frames, bumpers — everything is finished perfectly, just like a Rolls Royce of the era. It is a thorough contrast to Ferraris or Lamborghinis of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The frame of the 375 series cars is made from truck gauge steel with suspension parts and brakes to match. The units on show in the museum are amazing.
Up front, the Monteverdi relied on a double-wishbone suspension with coil springs and a roll bar; it had worm-and-roller steering. Disk brakes were in both front and rear, 12 inches front, 11.8 rear. Michelin 205/70R15 radials were fitted onto Campagnola alloy wheels.
The 375 coupe was around 181 inches long, 70.7 wide, and 47.4 high, riding a 98.8 inch wheelbase. It weighed in at 3,528 pounds in 1968, and sold for over US$18,000, or around the price of six nicely trimmed Valiants.
Chrysler 1904-2018 •
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