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MOTOREX Magazine 2015 104 EN

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15_0026_Magazine_EN

REPORT CONTINUED Safari,

REPORT CONTINUED Safari, 1976 Sahara, 1978 High Speed 375 C, 1971 High Speed 375/4, 1971 Hai 450 SS, 1970 Peter Monteverdi 1934–1998. A NEW MODEL EVERY YEAR After presenting the 375 S at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1967, Monteverdi had a hit on his hands, and Frua did not have sufficient capacity to keep up with demand. The Basel automaker was forced to move production to Fissore, a specialized coachbuilder in Turin. Frua was not pleased and asserted his rights to the design. In response, Monteverdi literally went back to the drawing board (no computers in those days!) to design the 375 L. Its predecessor’s equal in every way, the grandiose 2 + 2 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1968. Assets like automatic transmission and air conditioning were especially well-received by the international clientele. It provided the basis for the 375 S two-seater coupe in 1969 and later a convertible. Exactly one year later, in 1970, the 375/4 four-door luxury sedan became the newest model. MID-MOUNTED ENGINE: THE HAI 450 SS Looking like something beamed down from another planet, the prototype mid-engine Monteverdi Hai 450 SS with its 450-horsepower 7-liter Mopar Hemi engine appeared at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1970. The car was later sold, and another three vehicles built in different configurations. Today these are all at the Monteverdi Museum. In a matter of just a few years, Monteverdi had succeeded in establishing himself in the fiercely contested luxury segment alongside Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. Demand was strong and production was continually in high gear. Final assembly took place at the Monteverdi plant in Binningen – until Monteverdi became another victim of the oil crisis in 1974. It was time for fresh perspectives. Monteverdi and his righthand man Paul Berger, head of global sales since 1962, found it in the S series. A VISIONARY LOOKS TO THE FUTURE The new S series consisted of the Safari (SUV), Sahara (4 x 4) and Sierra (sedan, convertible and wagon). Years before the great SUV boom, Monteverdi had anticipated the idea of a luxuriously equipped off-road vehicle with power steering, automatic transmission and air conditioning. Based on the International Scout, the Safari was modeled on the British Range Rover. The plant in Binningen, incidentally, had converted the original Range Rover from a three-door to a five-door model for the British royal family. The Sahara was the Safari’s somewhat more modestly equipped sibling. The SUVs were Monteverdi’s biggest commercial success and were exported all over the world, especially to the Middle East. The 12

Sierra, 1977 Peter Monteverdi Formula 1 Sierra Convertible, 1978 The brand mark combines the Swiss colors of red and white with the crown from the Monteverdi coat of arms. Military 230 M, 1979 Hai 650 F1, 1992 Swiss automaker also showed a deft touch in naming the Sierra family, based on the Dodge Aspen from the US. Monteverdi was able to secure protection for the mark. Ford liked the name so much that it bought it from him. A MUSEUM AND A CLUB By the early 1980s, the days of vehicle production in Binningen were numbered. After a “no” from the Swiss government to two robust all-terrain prototypes for the military, output steadily declined. Production came to an end in 1982. Nevertheless, Peter Monteverdi continued to market his design abilities in various areas under the “Monteverdi Design” label. At the age of 51, Monteverdi decided to turn his company headquarters into a museum for a comprehensive collection of his creations. That same year saw the founding of the MC (Monteverdi Club), with the active support of his friend, coachbuilder Ruedi Wenger. A FINAL VENTURE INTO F1 When Swiss auto repair magnate Karl Foitek and Peter Monteverdi purchased the British Onyx racing team in 1990, they inadvertently caused quite a stir. Behind the wheel sat Foitek’s son Gregor and J. J. Lehto. Unfortunately sponsorship funds were far from readily forthcoming, and the Monteverdi team was forced to suspend its Formula 1 project before the season had even ended. In 1992, the Hai 650 F1 was built from leftover Formula 1 parts. Two examples were built, with a carbon frame and 650-horsepower Cosworth V8 engine. From then on, things became quiet around Switzerland’s last automaker. Peter Monteverdi died of cancer in 1998 at the age of 64, leaving behind an unmistakable black, white and red trail through automotive history. Without his combination of iron will, diligence and skill, the world today would be poorer by one of the few Swiss automotive marques … • Monteverdi Automuseum Monteverdi-Club Oberwilerstrasse 20 Mr Peter Giger CH-4102 Binningen/Basel Reinacherstrasse 40 Tel. +41 (0)61 421 45 45 CH-4106 Therwil www.monteverdi.ch www.monteverdi.net MOTOREX MAGAZINE 104 I APRIL 2015 13

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