The start of the decine - the Montral

The Montréal was a car that never quite lived up to it's promise.

It first saw the light of day in, would you believe, Montréal as a concept car at Expo 67 in 1967 and the public loved it. This was one beautiful sleek 2+2 coupe designed by Bertone and since it didn't already have a name Montréal is the one that it was known as, and the name stuck. Which is a little ironic really; Alfa Romeo never produced one which could comply with the emission control regulations of America and Canada and so none were actually sent there!

By the time the car was available for sale in 1970 it had changed, mechanically, considerably from the original prototype. The original 1.6 litre engine had been replaced by a 2.6 litre V8 and there was a double wishbone suspension, and a limited slip differential at the rear. The appearance, though, remained very much the same.

This was a striking looking car. At the front four headlights were partially obscured by grills; when the lights were turned on those grills retracted to completely uncover them. There were ducts on the bonnet which don't really do anything, and seemed to be there more for cosmetic purposes than anything else; and more ducts behind the doors which just allow air out of the cabin. These are not the only strange things about this car however; the way in which it was built was unusual, bordering on bizarre!

Firstly the chassis was built by Alfa Romeo at their factory in Arese near Milan; and then sent to a Bertone plant near to Turin, about 80 miles away. Here the body, which was made by Bertone, was fitted. It was then sent about 20 miles away to another Bertone plant to be de-greased, cleaned up and painted. There was then another 90 miles or so journey to take it back to Arese where the engine was fitted together with other mechanical bits, hopefully without messing up the paintwork. There was no doubt some logic in this Byzantine method of manufacturing a car but I confess I cannot think of it.

All this transporting backwards and forwards cost money of course which contributed towards the fact that this was one very expensive car; in fact it was offered for sale for not far short of twice the price of an E-type Jaguar. Around 3900 were manufactured before the model was officially dropped in 1977; how many were actually sold at full retail price has not been disclosed but what is fairly certain is that production ceased before 1977 and the company had some difficulty shifting remaining stock.

Apart from the fact that it was overpriced there was another major problem with this car; it was extremely thirsty. There was a petrol crisis during the 1970s with fuel prices soaring upwards and the Montreal would not have been the only car to have had it's sales potential affected by this.

Some of the cars that we have already covered on previous pages have increased in value enormously over the decades. The Montréal is not one of them.

Next - the Alfasud