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.
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 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.
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