Given the fact that the Swiss share borders with the titans of industry in Germany, the passionate, fiery Italians, and the Avant-Garde French it seems rather curious that Switzerland never became a motoring industry powerhouse in its own right. After all, Switzerland has no shortage of Alpine passes to tear up and down in a hard edged sports car, nor cosmopolitan cities to arrive in style in a luxurious GT car. And thanks to the Swiss banking industry, there’s also no shortage of cash to go around. Yet the Swiss curiously left the car building up to its neighbors and essentially stuck with banks and timepieces – with one very notable exception in the form of Peter Monteverdi.
At the age of 16, Peter Monteverdi constructed his first car, a Fiat 1100-based special he built in the back of his father’s garage business. He went on to found MBM, where he built a series of karts and smallbore racing cars. In order to support his fledgling business he began importing Ferraris to Switzerland in 1957, eventually earning a position as the official Swiss distributor for Ferrari. His importing business soon grew to include a stable of luxury cars that included BMW, Lancia and Rolls Royce/Bentley.
In 1967, following a falling out with Enzo Ferrari (a seemingly common occurrence) Peter Monteverdi teamed up with Pietro Frua to design a full-fledged GT car suitable for tackling those magnificent Swiss roads as well as his demanding clients. Monteverdi took full advantage of the skills of his neighbors by outfitting his new GT with a steel chassis built in Germany, and clothed it in sexy Italian coachwork. Pietro Frua was hired to design the two-seat 375S, and the body did share some notable similarities to the AC 428 and Maserati Mistral, also Frua designs. Power came courtesy of Chrysler’s massive 440 cubic-inch Magnum V8. However, Monteverdi soon realized the demand for a four-seat grand tourer was stronger than his two seat model. So the 375L replaced the S, with a design that was based on Frua’s work, but tweaked by Monteverdi himself to accommodate two generous rear seats. The 375L was built by Fissore, however, the similarity to Frua’s original work did not go unnoticed by the Italian and he sued Monteverdi for a licensing fee. Regardless of the drama, Monteverdi attracted a unique clientele – wealthy eccentrics who eschewed traditional, mainstream sports cars in favor Peter Monteverdi’s Swiss beauties.
This 1969 Monteverdi 375L Coupe is a very fine example from the almost-mythical Swiss manufacturer. It is finished in a flattering shade of dark blue which very nicely suits the crisp Fissore-built body. Paint and body quality is very good, with very good panel fit and just a few minor flaws in the paint, though nothing that detracts from what is otherwise a very attractive and totally usable car. It rides on a set of Borrani wire wheels which add a welcome amount of sparkle to the understated styling. The original cast alloy wheels will also be included in the sale. The razor-like chrome bumpers are excellent and the polished headlamp surrounds and grille appear in very good order.
The 375L was conceived as a Ferrari-beating high-speed touring car, so luxury of the highest order was high on Peter Monteverdi’s list. Our example is trimmed in beautiful caramel colored leather, presenting in wonderful condition and offering a gorgeous contrast to the dark blue paintwork. The distinct center console dominates the dash, its width necessitated by a chassis design that placed the Chrysler big-block engine and transmission well behind the axle line. It features an updated stereo system and air conditioning, perfect for cross-continent touring. The big-block Chrysler “Magnum” 440 presents in very good condition; clean and tidy with good detailing and signs of recent service. It runs strong and needs nothing but to be driven and enjoyed.
Actual production numbers for the 375 aren’t widely known, as records are held closely by the ex-factory museum in Basel. Not only does the Monteverdi 375L have rarity on its side, it is a genuinely well-built and cleverly engineered automobile. Comparisons to other Euro-American hybrids such as the Jensen Interceptor or Iso Rivolta are natural, however, the 375 should really be compared to the Ferrari 365 2+2 or Maserati Mexico in terms of performance, quality and luxury. Given the fact that it cost as much as a Mercedes-Benz 600 when new, it is easy to see where Peter Monteverdi was aiming his sights. These incredible cars rarely come up for sale on the open market and we are thrilled to offer such a fine and inviting example.