Bonn / Milan (dpa / tmn) - At the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal, Canada, one of the stars of the show was the study of a sports car. The trade fair organizers had commissioned this from Alfa Romeo to stage the car as an industrial production item.
The Italians did not have to be asked twice, commissioned the design company Bertone with the implementation and sent two coupes to Canada, which made a powerful impression.
Placed between mirrors in such a way that they seemed to multiply to infinity, the Alfas became a major attraction for visitors. "And with each day of the six-month exhibition, Alfa Romeo receives more inquiries from North America and the rest of the world to develop the Expo eye-catcher into series production," said Alfa spokeswoman Anne Wollek. The sports car premiered as Montreal in March 1970 at the Geneva Motor Show.
Short career - long legend
His career was neither easy nor particularly long, says Alfa Romeo expert Hartmut Stöppel from Bonn. But perhaps that's why Montreal has become a legend. "There are many famous Alfas, some are sportier than the Montreal, some are more exclusive and many have been more commercially successful," says Stöppel. "But as one of the coolest coupes from the 1970s, the Montreal has a place of honor in this exclusive family."
The Montreal Marcello Gandini drew. The then 30-year-old was still at the beginning of his career, in which he was to draw the Lancia Stratos or Lamborghini Countach, for example. But he had already made a name for himself with the Lamborghini Miura.
On a floor pan of the mid-range sedan Giulia, he designed an edgy, cool coupe of 4.22 meters that looked unique from every perspective and was unmistakable at second glance at the latest. The slats in front of the headlights, the ventilation grilles behind the doors, the hood in the bonnet: This had never happened before - and never again afterwards.
Much remained on the way to series production
Accordingly, the engineers carefully developed the concept on the way to series production. Although the car is always said to have a mid-engine, the Giuli front-engine concept remained the same for cost reasons. The gills on the flank survived as a pure styling detail. And even though there was plenty of struggle with the regulatory authorities, even the coupe's bedroom eyes have survived.
The V8 engine is an organ donation from the racing model Typo 33. "However, the Italians have somewhat domesticated the wild engine," said Stöppel. The Montreal was supposed to be a Gran Turismo for brisk connoisseurs and not a racing car for hectic racers.
The displacement was therefore increased from 2.0 to 2.6 liters, and the output was throttled in return: instead of 191 kW / 260 hp, 147 kW / 200 hp were now in the data sheet. But that was also enough for respectable driving performance: With 7.6 seconds for the sprint from 0 to 100 km / h and a top speed of 219 km / h, the King of Cool also maintained in the left lane. This also had its price, which was 35,000 Deutschmarks at the beginning of 1971. A Porsche 911 S was 7,000 D-Mark cheaper there, says Stöppel.
Better to travel than lawn
If you want to drive the Montreal, you first have to get used to the unusual design of the transmission, in which the first gear is at the bottom left. This is another greeting from motorsport because you rarely need it in the race.
The steering requires well-trained arms. In spite of the limited slip differential on the driven rear axle, the Alfa acknowledges overly sharp curves with dance inserts of the fiery kind and the chassis with its rigid axle in the rear quickly turns out to be out of tune on bad slopes.
But if you want to travel instead of racing, you will enjoy yourself in Montreal - and still get there quickly. An excursion with the Alfa is an experience for all the senses.
The Montreal is rare
However, only a few enjoy this benefit, Alfa connoisseur Stöppel has to concede. Because the Italians not only needed a long three years to debut the production model and then another nine months until the first delivery in early 1971. The production itself also stalled again and again.
When the Montreal finally expires in 1977, the counter ended up with only 3925 copies. Incidentally, the two specimens from Montreal are now parked in the Alfa factory museum near Milan.