The brief but interesting history of the Swiss brand, Monteverdi

5 Jul

We are in a time of great automobile manufacturers, usually organized in complex business groups, which manufacture millions of vehicles a year and use economies of scale. This leaves little space for the small brands that make few cars in a traditional way and printing a higher added value. There are few like Morgan or Pagani, some have in fact disappeared over time. One of them is Monteverdi.

For those who do not know, Monteverdi was a small Swiss manufacturer that operated between 1967 and 1984. The founder was none other than Peter Monteverdi. From his early years he became interested in the automotive world, something normal in a family that owned a repair shop. After completing his studies, he was apprenticed as a mechanic in a carriage factory.

In 1952, when Monteverdi was only 17 years old, he created his first car. He called Monteverdi Special and to do it he took as a base a Fiat 1100 that was in very bad condition. In 1956 he was forced to take over the family business due to the death of his father.

Peter takes the lead of the Monteverdi Binningen Motor (MBM) and begins to build racing cars and build a good reputation in his work. Already in his early years he works with brands such as Ferrari, Lancia or BMW. In 1961 he managed to enter Formula 1, being the first Swiss constructor in history. However, an engine failure and an accident temporarily truncated that dream. Peter continued to work hard and went on to focus on luxury production cars. In 1967 it was established with its own brand, named Monteverdi and presented the first model for sale.

It was the Monteverdi High Speed ​​375S, a high-performance coupe that was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1967. The design came from the pen of Pietro Frua, the same one that had created the Maserati Mistral. It had under the hood a huge 7.2-liter V8 engine that was originally Chrysler and developing 375 HP. Only eleven units of this copy were made and there was some prototype of other versions.

In 1976, one of the most important tours in the history of Monteverdi arrived. He forgot the production of high-performance sports cars and focused on off-road vehicles. The first of this type to arrive was the Monteverdi Sahara, which did not have its own development, but was based on the International Harvest Scout. In 1977 they dared with a sedan, the Monteverdi Sierra, which was based on the Plymouth Volare.

In 1982 the production of Monteverdi vehicles was completed and is considered the official date of his farewell as a brand. During the following years, some prototypes continued to be developed, but none was taken to production. In parallel, in 1990 they bought the Onyx team of Formula 1. The “Monteverdi-Onyx” only disputed 10 races in the season and retired due to economic problems.

In 1992 they tried to return to the scene with the Monteverdi Hai 650 F1, a supercar that used some of the components with which they had competed in Formula 1. It had the same chassis and the Ford DFR V8 engine with more than 650 HP and a top speed of 335 km / h. Only two prototypes were made. It seems that they stayed at the Monteverdi Museum, which opened its doors in 1985 in what had previously been its Basel factory.