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MOTOREX Magazine 2015 104 EN

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REPORT Formula 1 Grand

REPORT Formula 1 Grand Prix MBM, 1961 THE SIGN OF THE CROWN Monteverdi’s automotive masterpieces The Swiss are hardly known as automakers. Despite this, the country can boast a few idealists and hobbyists, to say nothing of its many key supplier companies, who have helped make the automobile what it is. Peter Monteverdi of Binningen near Basel was one of them. And, as in so many stories of great talent, his well-earned fame only arrived years after his final creative hour had tolled. Today Peter Monteverdi’s automobiles are highly sought after as collector’s items worldwide. Visit the Monteverdi Museum on YouTube Peter Monteverdi was born on June 7, 1934 and died on July 4, 1998 in Binningen near Basel, where his onetime company headquarters is now the site of the unique Monteverdi Museum. Peter Monteverdi’s father, Rosolino Monteverdi, ran a repair shop for cars and trucks – a calling that fascinated the young Monteverdi. Peter knew from an early age what he wanted to be when he grew up: an auto mechanic, a trade he learned at the Swiss truck manufacturer Saurer in Arbon. The young mechanic built his first dream car at age 16, creating a roadster he called the Monteverdi Special from a wrecked Fiat Balilla. BUSINESS OWNER AT 20 When Monteverdi’s father died unexpectedly in 1954, Peter succeeded him as head of the family business. Around the same time he began to take an interest in racing. After a few successful races in Switzerland, he 10

MBM-Tourismo 1961 Peter Monteverdi Production, 1969 Pictures: M. Zumbrunn, archives Monteverdi and A. König Geneva Motor Show, 1976 High Speed 375 L and 375 S 1968 formed the MBM (Monteverdi Binningen Motors) brand and began producing his own sporty two-seater, the MBM Turismo. Later he launched a series of Formula Junior cars. His racing activities and technical skill were soon known far beyond the racing scene, enough to draw attention from none other than Enzo Ferrari, who noticed the dynamic Basler and invited him to distribute his cars. Monteverdi even made the jump to Formula 1 on his own initiative in a racecar he built himself. Monteverdi built the chassis and frame of the 290 kph Formula 1 racer, while Porsche supplied the engine. With over 100 international races under his belt, Monteverdi ended his driving career after sustaining serious injuries in a devastating accident on the circuit in Hockenheim, Germany. GT SUPER CLASS Monteverdi now focused on building his MBM racers and managing the repair shop and dealership. The business was rapidly outgrowing its home. In 1961 Monteverdi had the old structure torn down to erect a spacious new building with a fitting sales floor at Oberwilerstrasse 14 in Binningen. BMW joined Ferrari in the sales lineup in 1965, and business boomed until Ferrari and Monteverdi, both strong personalities, had a falling-out. No longer a Ferrari dealer, the young engineer was now taken with the idea of bringing his own Gran Turismo to the streets. He contacted Italian designer and coachbuilder Pietro Frua to share his ideas. The result was a two-seater of breathtaking beauty that would later receive the name High Speed 375 S. It was agreed that Monteverdi would design a rectangular-section tubular frame for the rolling chassis and Frua would furnish the No longer a Ferrari dealer, the young engineer was now taken with the idea of bringing his own Gran Turismo to the streets. interior. Having been a Jensen importer since 1963, Monteverdi turned to tried-and-true components: a 380 horsepower Chrysler 7.2-liter V8 engine, ZF manual transmission (for now) and DeDion rear axle with disc brakes on all wheels. MOTOREX MAGAZINE 104 I APRIL 2015 11


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