At just 16 years of age, Peter Monteverdi constructed his first car, a Fiat 1100-based special he built in the back of his father’s garage business. Born in northern Switzerland, the young Peter had long held a passion for car design and motorsport. Just two years later, he would be selling racing cars under his own brand – MBM. He raced extensively in junior series, before entering Formula 1. He only had one start in F1 and a near fatal crash led to his abrupt retirement from racing. Peter took over the family garage business after the death of his father, and focused on building and racing sports cars. In order to support his fledgling business he began importing Ferraris to Switzerland in 1957, eventually earning a position as the official Swiss distributor for Ferrari. His importing business soon grew to include a stable of luxury cars that included BMW, Lancia and Rolls-Royce/Bentley.
In 1967, following a falling out with Enzo Ferrari (a story we’ve heard before), Peter Monteverdi teamed up with Pietro Frua to design a full-fledged road-going car suitable for tackling those magnificent Swiss roads and satisfying the needs of the most discerning clients. Monteverdi took full advantage of the skills of his neighbors by outfitting his new GT with a steel chassis built in Germany, which was clothed it in sexy Italian coachwork. When selecting a powerplant, Peter looked outside of Europe – to Chrysler - and their massive, torque-rich 440 cubic inch V8 and robust Torque-flite automatic transmissions. Pietro Frua was hired to design the two-seat 375S, and the body shared some notable similarities to the AC 428 and Maserati Mistral, also Frua designs. Some more Italianate drama would ensue when Fissore was chosen over Frua to build the cars, but once production began, Monteverdi would attract the unique type of clientele he sought – those who eschewed traditional sports cars in favor of these highly exclusive new cars from Switzerland.
Monteverdi soon added an ultra-high performance luxury limousine to his lineup of GT cars. Using elements of the updated 375L 2+2 (which Monteverdi himself reworked from the Frua design), over 20 inches was added to the wheelbase to accommodate two additional doors and provide ample leg room for rear passengers. The resulting car was a unique high-performance limousine that found great favor among the ultra-rich, particularly in the Middle East where the huge Chrysler powerplant was immune to high gas prices. Reportedly, the Royal Family of Qatar still maintains a fleet of five 375/4 sedans! Monteverdi was famously secretive about his production records, so it is not known exactly how many 375/4 limousines were built, but it is believed that fewer than 30 were built over an eight year period.
This Monteverdi 375/4 sedan is chassis number 3007; a striking early-production example of this rare and highly exclusive super-saloon. A highly original car, it benefits from a recent cosmetic freshening in beautiful dark metallic aubergine paint over an attractive biscuit tan leather interior. Long, low and smartly styled, the 375/4 is a true standout among the Euro-American hybrids of the early 1970s. The dark, subtle metallic color suits the sharp lines of the body very well. The paint is applied to straight, crisp body panels. Brightwork is restrained, with the grille, bumpers and window surrounds all presenting in good order, and the car rides on a set of correct original cast-alloy center-lock wheels, made specifically for these cars. Monteverdi built his cars to a very high standard of quality, and given their exclusivity, they have an almost mythical presence today.
The 375/4 was designed as a high-speed limousine that could be chauffeur driven or owner driven, so the cabin is of course trimmed with the utmost in period sophistication and luxury. The soft trim in this car is mainly original, with items such as the dash, console and perforated headlining remaining in very good original order. Biscuit tan hides on the seats and door cards are in excellent condition, as are the aubergine carpets that complement the body color. No 1970s ultra-lux limo would be complete without a television, and our 375/4 doesn’t disappoint with its whopping 6” Sony solid-state TV mounted in a custom leather trimmed console for rear-seat passengers. The original radio remains in the dash, and the original switchgear and HVAC controls all appear in good order.
Chrysler’s mighty 440 cubic inch V8 is mated to a Torque-Flite automatic transmission and comes with all of the necessary items a high-performance limousine would need, such as power steering, air conditioning and cruise control. As with the interior, the under-hood presentation is highly original and well detailed. The very rare finned Monteverdi-branded valve covers are still in place, and the engine is well detailed and very tidy. The chassis and undercarriage show some use, appearing to be largely unrestored though still quite tidy and in good order. Overall, the 375/4 runs well and performs admirably on the road, with only some minor fettling required to bring it up to cross-continent ability.
True to form with any Monteverdi, this handsome 375/4 is a highly exclusive and intriguing collector piece. Virtually every example had unique features tailored to meet the specific demands of an elite clientele. With its excellent cosmetics and sound mechanicals, this Monteverdi is a great example to use on the road, where the prodigious power and luxurious accommodations can be fully appreciated.