The Alfa Romeo Montreal is a wonderful V-8 sports car Alfa never sold in Montreal
Alfa Romeo made two unnamed prototypes for the Expo 67 held in Montreal, both based on the Giulia Sprint GT’s chassis with the four-cylinder from the TI version. Wowed by Marcello Gandini’s design, little did that crowd in 1967 know that three years later, the Italians would put it into production with a V-8 upgraded from the Tipo 33 prototype. After naming the vehicle the Montreal (after the Canadian expo’s host city) without much fanfare, Alfa ended up not selling its halo car in North America at all. In the rest of the world, this 2+2 simply cost too much to compete with heavy hitters like the Porsche 911 and Jaguar’s iconic E-Type. After launching in 1970, the Alfa Romeo Montreal was discontinued in 1977.
I know a happy Montreal owner. He bought his back when these beauties were reasonably cheap, and he also made sure to set up a business with an enthusiastic Alfa Romeo mechanic equally in love with the brand. Having the know-how and patience in house helps, because make no mistake, his Montreal had to be taken apart and put back together to become as enjoyable as it is today. That’s not because it’s a bad design, but rather because Alfa’s production methods would have made Lamborghini shiver with anxiety. The Montreal’s journey began with Alfa Romeo building the chassis, to which Bertone fit the body at its shop in Turin. Then, the naked Montreals went to another nearby Bertone workshop for paint and upholstery, only to be sent back to Arese to Alfa for powertrain and electronics. To say some of the wiring may have been left unfinished after all this is a massive understatement.
Yet the Montreal is, to this very day, a compelling luxury GT package. Powered by a 2.6-liter dry-sump cross-plane-crank twin-cam V-8 based on the 33 Stradale’s 2.0, it features the infamous SPICA fuel injection, a system which delivers 200 very smooth horsepower—as long as your mechanic knows how to touch it.
Along that magnificent engine comes a tight five-speed transaxle, four-wheel disc brakes, and of course that magical Bertone design, featuring Miura-style doors and slats behind them for cabin ventilation, a NACA duct on the hood, and Gandini’s other specialty, those partly-covered headlights.
Still, perhaps the most temping characteristic of the Montreal is its size. At roughly 2800 pounds fully loaded, Alfa’s 2+2 for the ‘70s may seem like a compact by today’s bloated standards, yet it’s perfectly sized for a sports car in terms of its footprint and proportions. Classy and understated, plenty quick yet comfortable enough for a long ride, the Alfa Romeo Montreal is a classic not to be underestimated. Even Jay Leno gets a kick out of it:
Want a turn behind the wheel of this classic Alfa? Rent it on DriveShare!