1972 Alfa Romeo Montreal
The Alfa Romeo Montreal got its name from the fact that it was introduced as a concept car at the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal. The stunning design was so well-received that Alfa decided to put it into production, although it wasn't available until 1971. Sales were just starting to boom — and then the 1973 oil crisis hit — and that was the beginning of the end. In all, just 3925 Montreals were produced, over half of them in 1972! They were never sold by Alfa dealers in the USA, although there are now somewhere around 100 in the country.
To complement the Montreal's great-looking Bertone-designed body, Alfa elected to power the car with a four-cam all-alloy V8 engine, derived from the famous Tipo 33 race car. It's only 2.6 liters, but makes 200HP and (just as importantly) makes simply marvelous engine sounds that only Italian multi-cylinder engines can make! It doesn't have the torque of an American muscle car (hey, it's half the size of a small-block Chevy), but it loves to rev and never runs out of steam and sounds like music! People love the Montreal for that sweet body and that sweet engine.
My Montreal spent the first fifteen years of her life in Italy and then was imported to Los Angeles. I bought the car in the summer of '99 sight-unseen from the second L.A. owner, knowing that she needed to be painted but that she was in excellent mechanical condition, having been maintained by a shop specializing in Lamborghinis and other Italian exotics. When she arrived, I observed that the paint was indeed shot, but was disappointed to learn that she also needed a clutch. But when I crawled underneath to see whether the clutch might just need adjusting, I couldn't believe my eyes:
This car looked brand new! I mean, everything — springs, shocks, brakes, drive shaft, fuel lines, suspension bushings — everything looked as though the car had just been driven off the showroom floor! She had apparently undergone the hard, expensive part of a complete mechanical restoration — they just never got to the clutch.
So I put her in the hands of Paul Glynn, New England's premier Alfa Romeo specialist, to do the clutch and whatever other mechanical work needed to be done. Unfortunately, the easy way to do the clutch on a Montreal is to pull the engine. While the engine was out, I had Paul replace the engine's water pump seal (the Montreal's one Achilles heel), and he actually had the seal fabricated out of stainless steel to preclude any further problems. The engine being out also gave me a chance to clean up the engine bay nicely. Paul also was incredulous when he got the car up on a lift and looked at it from below — it is like a time warp!
When she came back from receiving Paul's ministrations, I drove her for a delightful few weeks, and then it was off to the restoration shop for paint. I was told about an excellent (Italian) gent and put her in his care during the winter of '99-'00. We took all the paint off down to bare metal, and happily observed that there was never any body damage, nor was there ever a speck of rust. (Given where she'd lived all her life, that's not surprising.) She was originally red (AR501, I believe), and she remains red, but I elected to use Ferrari Rosso Chiaro Corsa, the definitive Italian shade of red, in my view. If you see her, you'll know what I mean — it is a deep, stunning red. She received an acid bath, primer, base coat, and clear coat, all applied very professionally and then properly buffed out. She is beautiful.
While she was getting her coat of paint, I had her seats recovered in leather. They were cloth originally, but leather was a correct (although not common) option and I thought she deserved it. They are very nice. The seat belts are four-point racing-type harnesses — don't ask me why, but they look cool and do really hold you in place.
In May of '00, this foxy lady won the Judges' Choice award at the annual Lars Anderson Museum of Transportation Italian Car Day concours in Brookline, MA, out of a field of around 130 gorgeous cars. And she deserved it.
Flaws? Not many. There are a couple of spots on the dash where the foam underneath has lost its resiliency, so there are a couple of dents, and some unexplained nicks to the left of the gauge cluster. The dash has no other cracks, but there are some around the trunk lid handle. There's a wrinkle in the driver's side door sill molding, though there's no damage underneath, so somebody must have stepped on it when it was off the car sometime. The car has A/C (a factory option) but I never bothered having the system recharged after the engine was out, so I don't know whether it works, although the compressor runs.
That's about it. This car really is an excellent example — every piece of chrome (well, stainless steel, actually) is present and in excellent condition; the wheels are the original Cromodora Turbinas (I've yet to see an aftermarket wheel that looks better, to my eye); the engine is smooth and strong. She has a little over 68,000 kilometers (about 42,000 miles) on the odometer. All of the instruments, lights, gauges, electric clock, etc. are in fine working order. Tires are new Goodrich Comp T/As. All of the hoses and belts are fresh.
Driving Monty is a completely different experience from driving other Alfas. She's not a nimble as my Spider, but then she was really designed to be more of a GT type of car. Of course, she is still an Alfa, and so handles better than a lot of modern cars, and a lot better than, say, the Corvette I used to have. With that small-displacement Italian V8 engine singing happily at any RPM, and providing plenty of grunt, she puts a big grin on my face, as does my Spider but for different reasons. My Monty has an Ansa rear exhaust section, which is quite attractive and aggressive, as well as probably adding a bit to the exhaust note. Click here to listen to a short MP3 file of Monty's engine being revved a little.
If you'd like to learn more about all facets of the Montreal, you need only visit Bruce Taylor's terrific Alfa Romeo Montreal Home Page, which contains everything you could ever possibly want to know.
I'm not really looking to sell Monty, and she has to be one of the nicest ones on the planet, but I'm the kind of guy who frequently gets automotive itches and I might part with her, but not for a penny less than my investment, which is $27K.
I'm sure I've left out some of the info that you're interested in, so please feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 781-320-8208.