Rare Rides: A 1971 Monteverdi High Speed 375/L, Where L Means Luxurious

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 1971 monteverdi high speed 375 l where l means luxurious

Rare Rides featured a Monteverdi once before, the large and luxurious 375/4 sedan. While that limited-run model marked the culmination of the High Speed series of cars from the brand, today’s 2+2 coupe represents the brand’s mainstream product offering.

The High Speed line was the debut sports luxury offering from the Monteverdi brand, a marque established in 1967 by 33-year-old Peter Monteverdi. The Swiss gentleman was born and raised around cars, as the son of a garage owner. Peter developed his father’s repair business into a large dealership by the early sixties and shifted high-end wares from BMW, Ferrari, and Lancia. Monteverdi’s dealership lost its Ferrari supply in 1963 when Enzo Ferrari himself wrote a letter to Mr. Monteverdi and demanded he pay up front for his shipment of 100 Ferraris. Monteverdi declined and set to the creation of his own luxury firm.

The first few years of High Speeds were constructed slowly by the folks at Frua, after Pietro Frua drew up Monteverdi’s new sports car. The company’s initial offering was the two-seat 375 S, and it entered production in 1967. Chassis were completed in Switzerland by Monteverdi employees, who bolted in the engines and drive trains. All examples were shipped over to Italy, where Frua installed the body and interior and put them on a train back to Switzerland.

Production was quite slow, and in six months just 12 cars were completed. During that time Frua also drafted another version of the High Speed coupe, the 375/L. The L was considerably different from the S, with and showed a new side profile and roof proportions. Displayed in 1968, the L was a grand touring 2+2 for wealthy clientele who wished to travel with friends. But the L didn’t see production then, as at the time Monteverdi and Frua had a falling out.

Monteverdi wanted much greater volume for his brand and demanded a 100-car per year output. Frua was strictly a small, hand-built operation, and had no intention to produce such vulgar figures of automobiles. Monteverdi took the plans over to Carrozeria Fissore, who agreed to hand-build the quantity Monteverdi requested. Subsequently, Monteverdi decided not to pay Frua any royalties for his High Speed designs, and Frua sued to prevent the sale of any Frua-designed cars. Frua won the lawsuit. Monteverdi had Fissore hastily redesign the High Speed, and the hand-built vehicles resumed production in 1969.

When production resumed, Monteverdi decided he’d have more luck selling a 2+2 as his volume model instead of a two-seater. And so the 375/L became the brand’s focus. Still very similar to the Frua design in its proportions, it had a new front and rear that was more angular. Also continued over from the Frua design were the big block Chrysler engines, in the form of the 426 Hemi (7.0L) and 440 Magnum (7.2L). Customers chose between a three-speed automatic, or five-speed manual for their Swiss heavyweight.

The 375/L continued in production through 1976, and only one significant change was made during its tenure: For 1972, the traditional cockpit filled with small gauges and lots of wood was replaced with a slightly simplified interior that contained much less wood, and more vinyl and leather coated surfaces. At that time the High Speed range was replaced by an amalgam of different models, most of which were luxury takes on existing Chryslers.

Today’s Rare Ride is available in Belgium for $323,115.

[Images: seller]

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  • Probert Probert on Dec 30, 2020

    Did Bizzarrini breath on this? The American engines were cheap power, but tended to melt when actually used for high speed travel beyond 0-60. When he contacted GM about the problems he was having with Corvette engines regarding issues when driving fast for sustained periods, they, with all the integrity and intellectual curiosity they're famous for, replied: Don't drive fast.

  • Kruser Kruser on Jan 03, 2021

    There were so many of these custom coach builders around Turin. They have a map on the floor of the National Automobile Museum with all of the car-related businesses around the city. Some of them were within blocks of where I currently live, but you'd never know it. I understand the metal workers were artisans in every sense of the word. Now there are only a few options left.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.
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