Alfa Romeo’s Montreal was remarkable in history. It’s the only one among the three postwar Alfa products that is powered by a V8 engine.
The Montreal was introduced as a concept car for the 1967 Montreal Expo. It is based on Alfa’s four-cylinder 105 series (Giulia/1750). Its bodywork was designed by Marcello Gandini who also made the design for Alfa’s regular-production coupes. The car was finished in about six months and has become like a cousin of Gandini’s Lamborghini Miura as well as the Lamborghini Espada. It was mid-engined as implied in its Kamm tail, slatted headlight covers and B-pillar louvers.
Two copies were made for the concept car. These cars caught a strong public response that’s why Alfa soon developed a production version.
A glimpse of the car was shown at the 1970 Geneva Motor show. The original concept car had no initial name and this is the reason why Alfa labeled the production model as the “Montreal.”
Back in that time, Autodelta had recently developed a 1,995cc DOHC V8 to be used in the Tipo 33 sports racer along with its rare street-going counterpart, the 33 Stradale. A detuned version of the said engine could give the Montreal performance that will match its looks. Opting for this engine will also help to rationalize the engine’s development costs. The inspiration could also have been Fiat Dino that is powered by a race-bred, Ferrari-designed V6.
The V8 was bored and stroked to 2,539cc for the Montreal. As a result, the racing engine’s 10,000-rpm redline was traded for midrange torque. The production engine had an aluminum block and heads, hemispherical combustion chambers and a dry-sump oil system. But then, it made use of Alfa-SPICA mechanical fuel injection similar to U.S.-bound four-cylinder Alfas. The results were 200 hp at 6,500 rpm and 173 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. That is why this compelled the adoption of a five-speed ZF gearbox that has greater torque capacity compared to the Alfa five-speed.
Class Of One
Although the Montreal was 5 inches longer than a 1750/2000 GTV coupe, it shared the similar wheelbase and had a modified version of the similar platform. This implied unassisted recirculating ball steering, coil springs and antiroll bars front and rear, double wishbones in front and a lightweight live axle in back. To cope with the Montreal’s weight and power, ventilated disc brakes, wider wheels and tires had to be tilted.
Unfortunately, the launch could not push through because of development delays and Italy’s ongoing labor disputes. Not to mention that cars weren’t available in quantity back in 1971.
The production line was intricate. The basic structure was built at Alfa’s Arese factory close to Milan before it was sent to Bertone’s plants around Turin for body fitting. It was shipped back again to Arese for assembly afterwards. The V8, special body, and convoluted production line were all considered in the price. It’s approximately twice the price of a 2000 GTV’s.
The Montreal was fast for its era: 0-60 mph in less than 8 seconds. It has 200 hp and a 2,900-pound curb weight. Its top speed is more than 135 mph. The V8’s free-reviving nature and addictive exhaust note were striking as well.
Unfortunately, the rest of the package was less appealing.
“The suspension was tuned for strong initial understeer, and while you could balance that with the throttle, the fatter tires and extra weight on the nose made fast cornering or parking-lot maneuvers a chore. Beyond that, the brakes inspired little confidence, ventilation was mediocre and the dashboard favored style over ergonomics.
Ultimately, the V8 was the Montreal’s undoing. The engine was charismatic, but it was thirsty and expensive to run. Worse, proper maintenance and repair required a technician with specialized tools. Alfa opted not to certify the Montreal for U.S. sale,” based on www.autoweek.com.
The popularity of the Montreal among its fans largely faded away after the 1973 OPEC embargo. A short and unsuccessful racing career did not help either.
Production of the Montreal was stopped in 1977. The total number of units that were produced ranged from 3,917 to 3,925 cars.
Although the Montreal was not a huge success, it was still the Alfa’s only postwar attempt at a regular-production V8. Imperfect as it is, it still remains alone and distinct.