Automobiles The Story of Alfa Romeo’s E-Type Fighting SupercarAlfa Romeo may not have moved many units of their ill-fated Montreal, but the car still belongs in the supercar history books.
- Words Zach Bowman
- Images Courtesy Ruote da Sogno
Few designers have shaped our reality quite like Marcello Ghandini. Born in Turin in 1938, he would make his way to design powerhouse Bertone in 1965 and proceed to pen some of history’s most spectacular machines. It was Ghandini who sketched out the Lamborghini Miura, arguably the most beautiful car in existence. For most of us mortals, that would be enough, but Ghandini was far from done. We owe him debts of gratitude for that bastion of childhood lust, the Countach, as well as the Diablo. And while those cars rightly shine bright in Ghandini’s portfolio, his lesser known works are no less spectacular, including this car: The 1972 Alfa Romeo Montreal.
Alfas have always been stylish machines with bright hearts, the very essence of the Italian ethos distilled into metal and glass. But the Montreal was something new and different. When its prototype debuted at the 1967 Expo 67 in, you guessed it, Montreal, it bowed as little more than a reimagined Giulia Sprint GT. Reimagined, that is, by Ghandini. Low and menacing, especially from a company whose designs always seem to radiate pluck and cheer, the four-cylinder concept car didn’t even have a name. The public simply called it the Montreal car. The name stuck.
When the production version debuted three years later, it retained Ghandini’s careful lines, but the small-displacement engine was gone, replaced by a bespoke 2.6-liter, 90-degree V8 borrowed from the vicious Tipo 33 prototype race car and tamed for Italian streets. The dry-sump, fuel-injected powerplant used dual overhead cams, and made a little better than 200 horsepower. It also spun to a heady 7,000 rpm. If you haven’t heard this engine at full shout, do yourself a favor and watch the video below. Now.
Engineers bolted that beautiful engine to a five-speed gearbox, and the Montreal wore disc brakes on all four corners. A limited slip differential slept in the live axle out back, while a double wishbone front suspension borrowed from the Giulia GTV handled things up front. This was no Giulia Sprint GT. It was an Alfa Romeo supercar.
And it carried a supercar price. The 1972 Montreal was more expensive than heady hardware like the Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911, a fact that did little to help move the cars off showroom floors. The fact that the Montreal never made it to the American market didn’t help either, and by the time production wrapped up in 1977, Alfa had built fewer than 4,000 of Ghandini’s brilliant 2+2.
This particular car is as fine an example as you’re likely to find. It spent its entire existence in Italy, and still wears its original Rome license plate. A recent meticulous restoration put the car back to former glory, including a beautiful respray in the original orange. The car sold this year to an unknown owner. Someone who we hope smiles everytime they see Ghandini’s handiwork sitting in their garage.