1972 ALFA ROMEO MONTREALView vehicle description
Even if you’ve never heard his name before, you’ll definitely know the cars Marcello Gandini was responsible for designing. Citroen’s BX, for a start. No? OK, how about the Renault 5 then? Fiat X1/9? Lancia Stratos? Maserati Khamsin? All right, let’s trot out the trump cards: Lamborghini Miura and Countach.
Besides designing just about every big-name Lamborghini you’ve ever lusted after, Bertone’s Turin-born son of an orchestra leader also did a fair bit of work for Alfa Romeo. The high point of his career there was undoubtedly the Montreal coupé.
Powered by a 200bhp dry-sumped 2.6-litre V8 derived from Alfa’s Type 33 prototype racer and with a ZF manual five-speed gearbox, the Montreal hit Alfa showrooms in 1970, three years after its debut as a concept at the Expo 67 show held in (guess where) Montreal. Ironically, it never sold in Montreal as no emissions-friendly version was built, but European cars were good for more than 135mph and a 0-60mph time in the low sevens.
This glorious-looking and even more glorious-sounding coupé wasn’t cheap when it was launched and good examples are getting very pricey now. The record so far is well into six-figure territory. Our Montreal will sell for considerably less than that. To us, it looks like a very good example. Take a look at the pics and see if you agree, then spend half a day or so reading through the paperwork detailing the enormous amount of work that has gone into getting it up to the standard it’s at today. Once you’ve done that, we think you’ll be convinced.
This is a matching numbers car with just two owners since 1989, when it was imported from Sicily by John Hartland of Motorapide/John Hartland Motorsport/Porsche 917 replicas fame. A well-known importer of Lamborghinis and Ferraris, John is known for sourcing only the best low mileage cars from Europe, and he certainly seems to have lived up to that reputation with this Montreal.
Apart from new paint in 1989, technically speaking the car is unrestored, but the level and quality of ongoing work carried out on it by Del, its current long-term owner, means you’d be excused for thinking it had been subject to a mechanical restoration.
We can tell you that this particular Del is more than a bit handy with the spanners. Taking over the custodianship of this Alfa in 2008 as its second UK owner, he wasn’t interested in tracking down one of the few right-hand drive cars that were built, as he believes that left-hand-drive Montreals were – and still are – more authentic.
During Del’s time with it, the car has been loaned out to several Alfa specialists for them to design, test and then offer for sale aftermarket fixes for the standard car’s known weak areas. As a result it now sports key Alfaholics parts like the handling kit with the thicker anti-roll bar, big brake calipers and vented discs, along with stainless steel exhausts and the non-cracking cast iron steering box to replace the original soft-metal item.
The owner has also carried out extensive testing of his own to further improve the handling. It now delivers a great combination of a very supple ride with just the right amount of resilience to snuff out the original car’s front-end dive issues.
Rob Thompson, world renowned rebuilder of Alfa Montreal engines, has seen the car and agreed a value for it. Del is only selling because, after enjoying and perfecting this high-style Alfa for the last 11 years, he’s now ready for a switch into a Pagoda Mercedes.
Please note that the private plate will not be included in the sale.
On the Outside
The panelwork on this Montreal is unlikely to be called as prosecution evidence into any trial of Alfa’s much-maligned build quality. From the power bulge/bogus NACA-ducted bonnet to the seductive swirl of its Bertone rear end, the recently machine-polished sheet metal is lovely.
The leading edges of the sections of the rear valance immediately behind the back wheels do have some corrosion, but Del assures us that this is down to quite recent UK stone damage rather than any inside-out corrosion as a result of blocked drainage holes (which are clear).
Apart from a 20x20mm spot ahead of one rear arch that’s about it on the corrosion front. The door bottoms are great and the sills and jacking points are all sound. The left hinge of the big glass ‘hatchback’ panel does need a stud welding onto its frame and new gas struts fitting to keep this elegant assembly open under its own steam.
There’s some flaking on one of the turbine-style alloy wheels, but the spare has been fully refurbished and all the shiny metal trim on the car – including the bumper – is dent-free stainless steel. The whole of the exterior appears to exude that well-looked after, very gentle patina that comes from being a well-kept unrestored example; expect the odd minor blemish, but looks superb from 10 paces.
The correct Carello tail lenses on Del’s car (attached by stainless Allen-head screws) are so good that they were used as a pattern for many of today’s aftermarket repro items. The retractable headlamp slats work, and the MNL ‘Montreal’ registration number will be included with the car.
On the Inside
The interior is 100% factory original, with all the Montreal options including leather seats and air conditioning. The Hellebore steering wheel is as handsome as it is genuine. There’s no radio, but your reward for that is the presence of the original monogrammed Bertone blanking plate, a small work of art in itself. How many of them can there be?
Look up and you’ll think that the ruched headlining must be concealing a sunshine roof, but it isn’t: that’s just one of the many Bertone touches that makes this car such a great testament to a bygone age of Italian coachbuilding. The original stainless-steel windscreen wipers are still present here. The air vents below the wipers are also original items: try and find a pair of those at sensible money.
Behind the leather front seats with ventilated backs described by Del as ‘lovely’ you’ll find Alfa’s ‘+ 2’ arrangement. The presence of luggage straps here (again factory correct) tells you what this Spartan-looking space is realistically best used for. The vendor states that there are no rips to the vinyl.
Other than the usual bits and bats on suspension components and the odd bracket, we can’t see any corrosion underneath this car judging from the photos. There, we’ve said it. And yes, this is a 47-year-old Alfa we’re talking about. Take a squint at the pics and see for yourself. If you’re partial to magnetic food, you could try eating your dinner off it.
Montreal owners and experts alike will tell you that these mechanically fuel injected 2.6 V8s do need careful setting up. They’ll also tell you that once that job’s been done, they run beautifully. This car’s Spica injection pump has been serviced and calibrated. Check out the videos and the pics in the Gallery to confirm how smoothly this one is running, and to see its bang-on oil pressure and steady idle.
The engine bay is exactly as it should be. Fewer than 200 miles have been covered since the last service, which included the aircon system as well as the usual filter changes. There’s fresh coolant and fresh oil. Del has routinely changed the oil every 3000 miles.
All the electrics have been recently checked over, with new coils and plugs fitted and replacement connectors put in wherever there was any doubt. Relays have been added to the ignition switch and fuel pump, both sensible mods, and the distributor has been rebuilt. Even the Bosch CDI boxes have been checked and serviced, with spares being supplied with the car.
The rear suspension has been rebuilt with new shocks and bushes. The car will come with three additional sets of 2.25-inch front springs.
How often have you seen the phrase ‘too much to list’? Well, whatever that number is, add another one to it now because there’s enough reading here to keep you perched on the throne for a very unhealthy period of time.
On top of all the trade paperwork, owner Del has laboriously detailed every single thing he has ever done to the car – and that’s a hell of a lot of things. It’s not just the amount of writing that leaves your jaw hanging open but also the diagrams that he’s included to help clarify the work he’s done.
The result is not just a fantastic record of this particular car’s life, it’s almost a reference manual for any other Montreal owner wondering how best to optimise this rare beast’s performance for the road.
What We Think
Frankly, most of Marcello Gandini’s creations are now either impossibly expensive or, for lack of interest or condition reasons, not worth having. This Montreal, one of just 46 thought to be registered for use in the UK last year, falls into a very tempting niche between those two extremes.
The Montreal is one of the few mainstream company concept cars of the 1960s that made it to the marketplace in a specification that was actually superior to the original concept’s. A small capacity V8 derived from a racer, wrapped in a gorgeous Italian skin – what's not to like?
Well, the price maybe, as Montreals have shot up in value in just the last few years. As recently as 2011, a reasonable one would have been worth about £25,000. Today, you can multiply that figure by three. The estimate on this car is somewhere in the middle of that range - £45,000 - £60,000 making it a great potential investment that – hopefully – will also continue to get the regular outings that Del has been giving it over the last 11 years.
We always encourage viewings. This Alfa is located at the owner’s premises near Chester. Just click the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing to arrange an appointment. Ahead of that, or at any time during the process, you’re more than welcome to ask any questions or jot down observations in the comments section below. You won’t be shocked to hear that our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section will answer general questions that are frequently asked about how The Market works.
Also please note that we have a network of trusted suppliers with whom we work regularly and successfully: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transporting it, and Footman James for classic car insurance.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
Want to know how The Market auctions work? Take a look at our FAQ'sView FAQ's