“There is a taut and
wieldy sense to the way the big Monteverdi conducts itself. Its brakes are
strong, it never wanders or wallows, and you soon forget about the cavernous
rear quarters you are dragging behind you, where plans for world domination
could be so easily hatched on the expanse of perfectly trimmed red hide” –
Martin Buckley’s feature on this car in Classic & Sports Car, July
Swiss businessman Peter
Monteverdi, Ferrari main agent and a former national importer for the marque,
built the first proper production car bearing his own name in 1967.
Like Jensen, Iso and AC
before him, Monteverdi chose a rugged, big capacity and very powerful American
engine and set it in a well-designed chassis clothed with timeless Italian
coachwork. The concept of New meets Old World, a marriage of easy-to-maintain,
effortless automatic V8 with sophisticated European coachbuilding and
engineering, was attractive to fast-living tycoons, many of whom had fallen out
of love with the highly stressed and complex V12s from Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The first Monteverdis
were elegant and generously proportioned 2+2s by Italian stylist Pietro Frua.
Monteverdi adopted the model name ‘High Speed’ for these trans-European
expresses, while ‘375’ referenced the horsepower available from the Chrysler
V8. The mid-engined ‘Hai 450 SS’ of 1970 was a rare exception.
Splitting with Frua in
1969, Monteverdi was to work with another Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria
Fissore, for the rest of his years as a proper manufacturer, rather than
boutique customiser of series-production American cars.
THE MONTEVERDI 375/4
When the four-door 375/4
High Speed was launched at the 1971 Geneva Show it was a logical addition to
the company’s catalogue, and a contender for the title ‘world’s fastest
four-door saloon’. At CHF 79,000 it was definitely one of the most expensive,
and few would dispute that its crisp modern lines made it a supremely elegant
Confirmed by the
Monteverdi Automuseum the specification of ‘3118’ as delivered was:
A Scottish oil worker
repatriated the car from the Middle East to Europe in the early 1990s, from
where Los Angeles-based collector Bruce Milner bought it as a restoration
project in January 1993 and embarked on an 11-year, totally ‘ground up’. So
dedicated was Milner to the task that he bought another 375/4 just for
The bulk of the work was
entrusted to expert restorer David Grant of Santa Clarita, California, whose
track record included preparing an ATS 2500 GT for a first in class at Pebble
Beach. Grant recalls that: “This project began around 1995 and was only
supposed to be an engine rebuild. It turned into a complete restoration.
“Since only a handful of
Monteverdi automobiles were manufactured and very few came to America, it was a
challenge to research this vehicle.” Research it he did, meeting the new
owner’s requirements for details such as deep navy paintwork – the original
launch colour – and rich red leather by specialist Kenny Sisk. This was coupled
with a new dashboard and interior panelwork in carefully matched rosewood
veneer from Arnie Black of Oregon. The
grain was selected so it would flow from one section to the next in true
“The original shift
selector was plastic and warped,” continues Grant. “We machined a piece of
aluminium, engraved the manufacturer’s name and the gear indicator, and
powder-coated it black to make it look like new plastic.”
All other components
were replaced or restored to concours standards. Milner insisted on ‘space
shuttle standard’ aluminium sound insulation. With David Grant alone, the bill
ran to some $220,000, and since then work with other specialists (including
Monteverdi itself, for a complete window set and spare parts) has added another
$105,000 to the total.
Now no longer in
Milner’s ownership, the imposing car known familiarly as ‘HMS Monty’ has been meticulously
looked after in Europe by best-in-the-business restorers including UK-based
concours and restoration specialist Mototechnique and, more recently, Italian
craftsmen Gatti (electrical), Bacchelli & Villa (body and paint) and Garuti
The Federal side
repeaters were removed, and the car resprayed where necessary to match the deep
navy paintwork to perfection. A recent addition was the fitment of a
period-correct television to the rear compartment. The car was entered in the 2015
Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille where it won a hard-fought second
in class for European Chassis with American Engine (Closed Cars).
The previous day, the
majestic car had wowed spectators on the 80-mile Chantilly Arts & Elegance
Tour. Admired by all – including McLaren F1 designer and judge for the event
Gordon Murray – the 375/4 demonstrated it really was a ‘High Speed’ motor car,
taking in sections of the top-secret French test facility at Mortefontaine with
aplomb… and two lady photographers on the back seat.
Since then, ‘HMS Monty’
has been a hit wherever the Kidston team has taken it. From Villa d’Este to Goodwood,
the car has won friends wherever its travelled.
The longest, most
outrageous, yet still effortlessly stylish and very fast saloon ever made? We
think so. Prepared to concours-winning standard, in top mechanical condition
and genuinely entertaining to drive, this 375/4 High Speed is one of the finest
surviving Monteverdis, one of barely a handful of four-doors extant. Road trip,
concours lawn or the ultimate drive to the night club, trust ‘Monty’ to get you
there in style.