Half a century after the glorious Alfa Romeo Montreal celebrated its public debut at the Geneva International Motor Show, the tenacious and often underrated Italian looks every bit the sharp dresser it did back then.
Alfa Romeo commissioned the Bertone design house to assist in their quest to bring about a concept machine that looked both masculine and breathtaking. Marcello Gandini had just created worldwide enthusiasm with the iconic Lamborghini Miura and would draw on previous pioneering automobiles such as illustrious Lancia Stratos and Fiat 132.
Gandini steps up to the table and designs a stunning coupé body and backs it up with unique details for the 1967 Alfa Romeo Expo show car including double headlights behind louvre grilles and 6 extremely conspicuous air intakes behind the doors.
Measuring only 4.22 meters in length, the exotic Italian is extremely compact with only room for the driver and two vertically challenged passengers in the modest rear seating area. Gandini’s design thoughts were as crystal clear as the glass tailgate and the ‘mid-engined’ dream.
Time restraints meant exploiting the floor pan of the Giulia including the engine being placed at the front for the two exhibition vehicles* which were eventually sent to Canada.
Alfa Romeo Montreal Expo
The concept vehicles were strategically positioned placed between mirrors in such a way that they appeared to be present in larger numbers, which led to the exhibition being attended by in excess of 500,000 visitors every day. The white dynamic duo still remained nameless but were given the unofficial Montreal moniker.
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Following the 6 month exhibition, enquires came in thick and fast from North America and the rest of the world to develop the Expo eye-catcher into full-blown production.
The development department is given the go-ahead to make the Montreal a reality and engineers began the usual cost-effective compromising. The chassis remains largely on the tried and tested Alfa Romeo Giulia and Marcello Gandini’s spectacular body design is retained apart from production requirements and approval.
The Montreal trademark lighting was also kept but did receive an upgrade with two ‘slats’ folding mechanically to reveal the powerful quad headlamps incorporated into the grille area. Air intakes designed by Gandini for a mid-engine construction are also approved and used to vent the cockpit.
The driver and front passenger sit in comfortable seats. A large number of instruments, arranged in a futuristic ensemble, provide information about the operating status of the vehicle.
Engineers spared little and gave the car the heart its beauty demanded and developed a roadworthy version of the V8 engine from the Tipo 33. Dry sump lubrication meant the uprated 2.6-litre engine could be transplanted further down and a mechanical injection system from Società Pompe Iniezione Cassani & Affini (SPICA) satisfied eight hungry cylinders at feeding time.
In spring 1970, the Alfa Romeo Montreal celebrated its public debut at the Geneva International Motor Show and the press endorse the desirable classic as a major success. A top speed of around 220 km / h was possible in extreme comfort with 0-60 achieved in an impressive 7.6 seconds.
Assembled in partnership between the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant and Carrozzeria Bertone, the Montreal is recognised as a true beauty with only 3,925 units manufactured until 1977.
*Both concept vehicles are now part of the collection of the Alfa Romeo works museum “La Macchina del Tempo” in Arese near Milan / Italy.
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