Montreal lent its name to this Alfa

Riley Riley

When the Alfa Romeo Montreal was shown as a concept at Expo 67 in Canada it didn’t have a name.

But Montreal it soon became after the public took to referring to it as ‘The Montreal’.

Around 3900 of the cars were built between 1970 and 1977, during which time it remained largely unchanged.

About 180 of them were right-hand drive, destined for markets such as the UK and Australia — a handful made it here.

One, a 1974 model finished in metallic burgundy, comes up for grabs later this month at Shannons timed summer auction.

The most eye-catching feature of the car is the front end with four headlights partly covered by unusual “grilles” that retract when the lights are switched on — a compromise to meet regulations in some markets.

Another stylistic element is the bonnet scoop which is not functional but rather designed to conceal the power bulge.

Slats located on the C-pillars contain cabin vents, but apart from that  are only cosmetic.

Paolo Martin is credited for the prototype instrument cluster.

Interestingly, because of the way the car was constructed, moving from factory to factory at different stages of the process, chassis and engine numbers and the production date don’t always match.

The styling by Marcello Gandini remained relatively unchanged when the production Montreal appeared at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show.

But the original four-cylinder engine had been replaced by a far more exotic 2.6-litre quad cam 90-degree V8 derived from the racing Tipo 33.

This jewel of an engine featured a flat plane crank and dry-sump lubrication in true racing style, along with SPICA mechanical fuel injection and was paired with a ZF five-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip differential.

All-wheel disc brakes and fully independent suspension were shared with the 105-series, but it was the Montreal’s mellifluous V8 that really made the Alfa so special.

With 200 horsepower on tap (147kW) performance was significantly better than the GTV 1750 whose platform it shared and the exotic Montreal was also far more expensive, costing more than contemporary rivals like Jaguar’s E-type or the Porsche 911.

The car had a top speed of 220km/h and could do the dash from 0-100km/h in 7.1 seconds.

Autodelta completed a Group 4 370hp (276kW) version late in 1972 which was sold to Alfa Romeo Germany to be raced in the DRM GT series.

The example to be auctioned arrived in Australia in March, 1974 and previously belonged to Steve Hajic before passing to the current owner many years ago.

A Sydney enthusiast and long-standing member of the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club, the vendor has maintained the car in excellent mechanical condition regardless of expense.

Regularly appearing at Alfa club events around Sydney, the Montreal has never been restored as such.

Repainted in the current metallic burgundy some years ago, the duco still presents well but does have some micro blistering in a few areas, while the interior has benefited from fresh carpets and the seats re-upholstered in matching dark red cloth material.

A non-standard radio and rear speakers are the only non-original items noted inside the Montreal’s luxurious cockpit and the car still rides on original 14-inch alloy wheels.

The boot compartment is nicely lined in carpet matching the interior and contains a jack and fitted Alfa-branded car cover.

Showing 33,007km on the clock (which has been round once so the true reading is 133,007), the Alfa Romeo presents well and would make a fabulous club car.

Fire up the quad-cam V8 and one can’t help be impressed by the exhaust note – the bespoke system sounds fantastic, better than any contemporary Lamborghini or Ferrari V8.

With Montreal values rising fast in recent years, this is a great opportunity to acquire an Australian delivered car that can be enjoyed as is or equally would benefit from some cosmetic refreshment.

Currently registered on non-transferable historic NSW plates, the Alfa Romeo will be sold unregistered.

The Montreal has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with values climbing steadily.

Shannons, who will action the car from February 21, estimate  its value at between $130,000 and $150,000.


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