Great Italian Classic: 1974 Alfa Romeo Montreal

An interesting little fact about the Alfa Romeo Montreal is that when Marcello Gandini at Bertone penned the original design drawings for the car, he envisaged it as being a mid-engined, 2-seater sports car. The fact that the car would eventually be built as a front-engined 2+2 was a complete surprise to the talented Mr. Gandini. Barn Finder Patrick S located this Montreal for us, so thank you so much for that Patrick. This Montreal has come a long way since its glory days, but it is not beyond salvation. You will find it located in Flanders, New Jersey, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has now reached $5,600, and with the reserve having been met, the Montreal is destined to have a new owner in the very near future.

It’s an older Alfa Romeo, so rust is almost certainly an inevitability. However, things aren’t as bad as they could be. What you see in the hood is quite daunting, and there is some rust in the floors. That actually looks quite limited, and I think that it could be fixed with some patches. the rest of the body looks solid, but we can’t get a good look around the bottom of the engine bay, which can be a real trouble spot on a Montreal.

When new, the interior of a Montreal is a thing of beauty, but as can be typical of Alfas, they are a thing of ergonomic nightmares. Some of the switch placement in a Montreal defy logic, but it is like any car insofar as once you have driven one for a while, finding the right switch or control becomes second nature. It looks like the Alfa has been left out in the elements without a windshield for quite some time, and this has wrought havoc inside the car. Not only will it be accelerating any rust issues in the floor, but it is doubtful that there is much inside the car that could be salvaged or reused now. This is a real shame, and finding replacement components will be a pretty big challenge for the next owner. It isn’t impossible, but I’m glad that it will be them rather than me.

When it rolled off the production line, the Montreal was the single most complex road car that Alfa Romeo had ever built. It was also released at a time when the company was gripped by some pretty intensive tension within its workforce. This stemmed from a government-backed decision by Alfa to build a new manufacturing plant in Southern Italy to build the Alfasud. To say that those working for Alfa in Northern Italy weren’t happy would be a classic understatement, and some of the products that rolled out of Alfa Romeo at this time were the subject of some pretty subtle workforce sabotage. This impacted build qualities across the entire make and the Montreal was one of those victims. Build quality was poor, and mechanical reliability was nothing to write home about. Alfa persisted, and the Montreal rolled out with a wonderfully complex 2,593cc DOHC V8 engine, which sported fuel-injection and dry sump lubrication. Power was then fed to a 5-speed ZF transmission, and to the rear wheels via a limited slip differential. The owner says that the engine doesn’t run, but that it does turn freely, while the transmission shifts through all gears. My personal opinion is that if I was to buy this car, I wouldn’t even attempt to start that engine. I would be shipping it straight to a specialist for a rebuild, because finding a replacement engine if this one goes “bang” is going to be neither easy or cheap.

The Alfa Romeo Montreal showed so much promise, but a combination of build quality and a high retail price were its undoing. For the price of a new Montreal, it was possible to buy a new Porsche 911 or a Jaguar E-Type, and you would walk away with change in your pocket with either of them. As a result, in its 7-years of production, less than 4,000 cars were produced. The truly rare ones are the right-hand drive versions, as there were less than 300 of those built. Once restored, this could be one of the great production cars of all time, and a rewarding car to drive. Judging by the bidding to date, it looks like there are a few people who might just be brave enough to take this one on. Will you?

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Comments

  1. bobhess Member

    You’d have to be pretty young to take on restoring this car. Just overcoming the rust could use up a lot of life…

    8
    • Ramone Member

      Young and wealthy.

      7
  2. healeydays

    On Hemmings there are versions of the car for sale from $67K to well over $125K, so these cars have some value, but it might take all of that to bring this example back to life.

    5
  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    3 of them sitting there in one of the pictures…owner clearly knows these cars and is choosing to dump this one. Makes you go hmm

    17
  4. Bruce

    Having worked on Alfa bodies they are generally simple in construction and far easier to fix then one might think. Before I purchased this car however I would demand that I have the ability to make a mould from one of the adjacent cars to make a carbon fiber or fiberglass replacement hood. That looks to be too far gone to effectively save.

    As for the engines they are truly a pair of four cylinder engines mated in a common block. The mechanical fuel injection is similar as well. By todays standards very straightforward if a bit fussy. The interior is truly scary. There are many complex shapes in that interior, door panels and dash that will take a true expert some time to repair, replace or reproduce. That will not be cheap.

    This is not a car I personally like that much. The car to me seems bulky and a bit blind. I have never driven one but I have sat in a few at car shows. It is a much bigger car but almost as blind interms of 3/4 vision as my S2 Europa and that is not a good thing. All that combined from the front they are a true thing of beauty. The most beautiful one I saw was a metallic green and it was just stunning. This would be the project of a life time and would garner much praise when finished.

    9
  5. pebblebeachjudge

    I’m a fan of the Montreal , it’s an undervalued 1970’s classic that has not come into real time value yet. considering it’s a V8 Alfa, and a classic design, these should hover in the 125-150 range, restored. Restoring one like this will be expensive, and there is no way to do this one unless you do a nut and bolt frame up, which would cost you ALL of the 125-150 K to do it.

    6
  6. GeneB

    I see a Volvo 1800 coupe in the yard there, also.

    2
  7. Newport Pagnell

    Here’s a nice vid with the sights and sounds of this type Alfa. Might motivate a few folks:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-Rh8os40Ts

    2
  8. Healeymonster

    This is yet another car that i could have bought cheap enough back in the day, yet other cars took its spot. Beautifull design.

    1
  9. Blyndgesser

    The missing windshield is made of unobtainium.

    7
    • healeydays

      I was thinking the same thing

      1
      • v

        i know where there are 2 windshields available for this car . the black one to the right and the silver one behind it.

        3
      • Bruce

        They are expensive but available. The maker kept the moulds and that is the critical thing.

    • Christopher

      There are a couple of places that you could possibly find a windshield just by asking on the Alfa BB. Someone might have a hood from a wreck. I agree on the engine, it has been sitting far to long and sending it out for a rebuild would be smart. The injection pump would be one of my first things to send out to Wes Ingram.

      3
    • TW

      The windshield can be bought for money. The rear hatch glass, on the other hand …

      2
    • Bobinott

      The seller indicates that the windshield is available from a supplier called Mr. Fiat, for $1150. Not the end of the world.

  10. Coventrycat

    Too far gone for me

    1
  11. TW

    Ahem. The Montreal was never planned or designed as a mid-engined two-seater. The die hard mid engine myth is discussed in Luigi Giuliani’s book “Montreal” (1992), where Gandini himself states that it’s a myth based on sensationalist car journos and misunderstandings.

    The so-called “air intakes” behind the doors were never anything but a stylistic thing to break up the large area of sheet metal.

    The prototypes (as the two show cars are known as in the Montreal community) was sent from Milan to Montreal with a 1600 engine up front, and the driveline and the rest of the oily bits from the Giulia Sprint GT.

    1
  12. Martin Horrocks

    @Bruce is right in that the Montreal is probably the best-built Alfa of the early 1970s. The body was designed and built by Bertone (the BF write up is more extrapolation than fact). Parts are easier now than they used to be, and many have been broken so a screen and bonnet will come up somehow. I suspect you can buy the screen new. Trim items tend to be harder, so important that you start with at least most of the parts.

    I had a green metallic Montreal as Bruce describes and it grabbed huge attention. But I agree with him that it was not a great car, too much engine for the brakes, chassis or steering, lousy visibility, huge thirst and small fuel tank.You can sort much of this with aftermarket parts, not hugely expensive, but the Alfa Montreal is a flawed design.

    The engine is not 2 Alfa twin cams conjoined, btw. It is a detuned version of the race engine which went into the Alfa T33. I don´t think there is any real commonality between this and a Nord. Not rocket science, but not easy to work on either and the SPICA injection is good when working, needs experts when not working. Gearbox is a ZF dogleg, strong.

    3
  13. Kevin Harper

    I will concur with Martin and Bruce. I am an Italian car fan and I know i am supposed to like these, but having driven a few I will take a 105 coupe anyday. As Martin says the engine is not just a NORD engine modified it is based off the t-33 and it has prices to match. For example a distributor for a NORD is a couple of hundred bucks for the montreal budget a grand.

    Having looked at this one, and while it is not a cream puff it does look restorable. I know parts supplies are getting better and with the selling price these are bringing some brave soul will try.

    The windshields are available and are not outrageous at under 500 bucks for a new one. Oh but the rubber gasket is another 350

    4
  14. Peter

    In burnt orange colour, these cars still are a ‘head turner’.

    1
    • v

      i think the last few years there has been an explosion of interest in the color orange. the 2019 orange corvette and 2019 orange mustang are really out of this world . hail to the color orange .

  15. bog

    I was fortunate enough to have seen one of the “prototypes” at the 1000KM race at Nurburgring in 1968. It was parked in the lot behind the pits and no one was around it. So, my buddy and I checked it out. It was beautiful then and now. Since there was no trailer to be seen, presumably it was driven there. On the way home on the Autobahn we saw another Alfa (in Italian Racing Red) that was a sports racer, so perhaps there was a special event for “Alfisti” at the track that year. This guy has much more presentable Montreals, than the one offered for sale. This red one is just “sad”…

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