I thought I’d start this series of posts as I mean to go on, with something rather left-field, rare and expensive.
OK, OK, I’ll source plenty of affordable metal too, but the purpose of the series remains the same: to showcase intriguing cars on the market and tempt those with enough cash in their pocket to go out and take the plunge…
1970 Monteverdi Hai 450 SS
The car you’re looking at is supposedly the result of an argument with Enzo Ferrari.
Peter Monteverdi was just 23 years old when he acquired the Ferrari franchise in Switzerland. A decade later, in 1967 – and after some apparently very frank discussions with il Commendatore – he made the decision to begin production of his own, exclusive high performance cars.
His first car was the High Speed 375S; a visual blend of Maserati Indy and AC Frua, with a whopping 7.2-litre Magnum 440 V8 engine under the bonnet.
Unfortunately, Monteverdi’s partnership with Frua didn’t last long, and by 1969 fewer than a dozen examples were built. Following the break-up, the company went to Carrozzeria Fissore to restyle the coupé. The result of this exercise was a pleasing marriage of Maserati Ghibli and Aston Martin DBS, a purposeful but elegant European 2+2.
Less than a year later, attendees to the 1970 Geneva Motor Show were blown away by the Hai 450 SS prototype. Motorists hadn’t seen anything this dramatic since Ferrucio pulled the covers off the Miura four years earlier at the same event. This was a radically-styled car, aimed squarely at taking on the very best from Northern Italy. A 450 horsepower, 7.0-litre hemi V8 from Chrysler sat in the middle of the car – not behind the driver and passenger separated by a bulkhead, but extending into the cabin about six inches beyond the seat bolsters! Certainly one way of getting a more explicit aural experience…
However, aside from the relatively small back catalogue, the car had a major flaw – an anticipated $27,000 price tag. This was about 25% more than a Miura or a Daytona at the time, and perhaps unsurprisingly, buyers never materialised. After building just two prototypes, Monteverdi called time on the Hai. A couple of replicas were subsequently built in the 1990s, but there are just two ‘genuine’ vehicles in the world.
The stunning magenta example for sale via Jean Guikas in France is the very car that wowed the crowds at Geneva in 1970. A rare, rapid and radical Swiss supercar just waiting for the right buyer – I’d expect this to find about £400,000.