A rare exotic European GT comes up for sale in Kent.
If you wanted a expensive GT car in the early Seventies, the chances are you would head to a Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini dealer and check out the likes of the Daytona, the Ghibli or the Espada. If you wanted something a little more leftfield and even more exclusive, however, then you might seek out a Monteverdi.
In the mid-Sixties Peter Monteverdi was a successful Swiss car dealer, and his company was the official importer of Ferraris into Switzerland. The relationship turned sour when a cash-strapped Ferrari insisted that he take a consignment of 100 Ferraris and pay for them up front. Monteverdi understandably declined and instead decided to set about creating his own exotic GT car to rival the vehicles from Maranello.
The result was the Monteverdi 375 High Speed, a front-engined GT car with bodywork by Frua, which bore more than a passing resemblance to the Maserati Mistral and AC 428 by the same Carrozeria. In common with many Italian and British GT cars of the time, power came from an American V8, in this case the Chrysler 440 producing a claimed 375bhp.
Only 11 375s were built with the Frua bodywork (possibly because Monteverdi was unhappy with its resemblance to the other cars) before the cars were switched to a new body design by Fissore. The new design came in three versions. The 375L 2+2 was the mainstay of the range, although Monteverdi also offered a 2-seater 375S on a shorter wheelbase and an extremely rare 375C convertible. Later in the production run, a small number of 375S Berlinettas were built with revised frontal styling and an extravagant 4 door version, the 375/4, was produced. For the most part, power remained with the Chrysler 440, although a number of cars appear to have left the factory with the mighty 426 Hemi engine fitted.
In all forms, the 375 was always on the gentleman's express side of GT motoring than its perhaps sportier rivals from Ferrari and Maserati, and was far more at home on fast A roads than negotiating mountain passes. The big unstressed V8 offered 150mph+ top speed, although fuel consumption is best not thought about.
What's it like to own and drive? Who better to tell us than 375S owner, car enthusiast and high priest of the double denim look - Jay Leno.
Total production for all types of Monteverdi 375 probably amounted to only a few hundred units by the time production ended in 1976, which is why they are a very rare sight in the classifieds today. Kent-based classic car dealer Godin Banks are masters at turning up unusual European oddities and currently have a rare right hand drive 375L for sale. The car is described as being in average driving condition and was restored some time in the 1980s when the colour was changed from its Seventies brown to a more universally appealing blue. Godin Banks are asking £99,995.
Pictures: Godin Banks