Coupe
Designer: Trevor Fiore
Chassis Num: TNT 101
Sold for $562,294 (€398,000) at 2010 Bonhams.
Sold for $577,500 at 2012 Gooding & Company.
In 1956, at the age of 22, Peter Monteverdi took over his fathers repair shop. Monteverdi had built a reputation in Formula 1 and had formed a relationship with Enzo Ferrari. This lead to many of the cars being inspired by Ferrari designs.

In 1967, the Monteverdi High Speed 375 S was introduced to the public at the Geneva Auto Show. This was followed by the Hai 450 SS, which was powered by a Chrysler Hemi engine which was mounted mid-ship. The design was elegant and bold, but the company was finding it hard to competing with other marque's such as Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The story of the Monteverdi HAI 450 SS began in April of 1969 when Monteverdi was visiting Chrysler's Export-Import Division in Detroit. Monteverdi was shown Chrysler's all-new 'F' Series 440 Magnum and the 426 Hemi. The 426 was both powerful and a race-proven engine. Monteverdi felt he could build a 'halo' car based on this worthy engine. An agreement was soon reached whereby Chrysler Engineering would build a 426 Hemi especially for the Swiss automaker.

Monteverdi built a mid-engine supercar based upon the Chrysler engine. Monteverdi's box-section space frame chassis, with its 'X' bracing and integrated roll bars, were both strong and rigid - ideally suited for the sports car platform. Monteverdi engineered a fully independent suspension with a De Dion-tube rear axle and specified ATE ventilated disc brakes, and a ZF transaxle. The project was done by hand and consumed some 110 hours.

Upon completion, the chassis was shipped to the Fissore plant in Savigliano, Italy south of Turin, where the prototype's bodywork was built by hand. The design was created by Englishman Trevor Fiore.

The result was a technically sophisticated, precision-built, exotic sports car that carried an astounding price tag of 82,400 Swiss Francs. Top speed was claimed to be achieved at 280 km/h and 0-100 mph completed in 12 seconds. This was one of the fastest vehicles ever designed to run on public roads.

The Monteverdi HAI 450 SS Prototype was introduced at the 1970 Geneva Auto Salon. Chassis number TNT 101 was finished in a specially mixed metallic shade called Purple Smoke. It was equipped with air-conditioning, electric windows, polished wire wheels and all-white Connolly leather upholstery.

At the close of 1970, the car was featured in Automobile Quarterly (Volume 9, No. 2).

After the show season, the HAI returned to Monteverdi's Basel factory, where it was repainted red and re-upholstered in a more conventional pattern. It was then displayed at additional exhibitions and featured on the cover of Australia's Sports Car World magazine.

Though there were requests for HAI models, Monteverdi refused to build them for the general public, believing them to be too advanced for inexperienced drivers. One individual named Karl Heinz Schuberth of Germany was relentless. After nearly a year, Monteverdi gave in to his requests and, on November 5th of 1971, sold TNT 101.

Monteverdi eventually unveiled the 450GTS, TNT 102. That example rested on a longer wheelbase and powered by a Chrysler 440 Magnum, rather than the more powerful 426 Hemi.

In 1981, TNT 101 was sold to Norbert McNamara of California. Before taking delivery, McNamara commissioned Fissore, the original coachbuilder, to perform a cosmetic restoration and refinish the bodywork in a unique copper metallic tan livery.

In 1989, the car was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. In October of 1996, Los Angeles collector Bruce Milner purchased the car. About a decade after making the purchase, Mr. Milner decided to restore the car to its original 1970 Geneva Auto Salon appearance. The exterior was finished in Purple Smoke paint and the interior was re-trimmed with white upholstery and black carpeting and equipped with period details, such as a Blaupunkt Koln radio and correct Behr air-conditioning vents sourced from another Monteverdi.

The HAI 450 SS Prototype made its post-restoration debut at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where it earned Third in Class (Mid-Engined Show Cars, Prototypes and Concept Cars). It was featured in the December 2007 issue of Classic & Sports Car magazine.

Several years ago, the current owner purchased the car.

The car is powered by a 426 CID Chrysler 'Hemi V-8 engine breathing through Twin Carter 4-Barrel carburetors and producing 450 horsepower. There is a 5-speed ZF manual transaxle with limited-slipd differential. At all four corners are ATE Vented disc brakes with inboards at the rear.

In 2012, the car was offered for sale at Pebble Beach presented by Gooding & Company. The car was estimated to sell for $600,000 - $800,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $577,500, including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2012
Given Switzerland's penchant for producing high quality products, it's unfortunate that so few cars were conceived in the country. Surrounded by Germany, Italy, and France, Switzerland's geographic location should have placed the nation at the very center of automotive excellence. The automobile was invented in Germany. France and Italy together raised the motorcar's level of aesthetic refinement to such an extent that many of their cars had more in common with fine sculptures than with 'horseless buggies.' A quick glance at any map of Europe suggested that a confluence of the world's best stylists and engineers should have called Switzerland its home.

Despite this, and despite the country's breathtaking roads, there was never a booming Swiss auto industry. Perhaps this can be blamed on the Swiss overexposure to great cars. Ferraris, Porsches, Bugattis—all these autos were produced so close to Switzerland, that maybe the country's would-be carmakers were intimidated by their superb offerings. Maybe the Swiss simply saw nothing in the automotive realm that needed improvement. Whatever its reasons, Switzerland never involved itself to any great extent with automobile production. There was, however, a particularly notable exception to Switzerland's apparent automotive apathy, and his name was Peter Monteverdi.

Born in 1934, Monteverdi was a car enthusiast from a very young age. His father's auto repair shop offered him great exposure to automobiles. When he was only seventeen, Monteverdi built his first car, the Monteverdi Special, by using a wrecked Fiat as his starting point. Monteverdi took over the family repair shop in 1956 after his father's death, and it was then that the young man's great ambitions became clear.

Within the same year that he acquired his father's repair shop, Monteverdi began to produce racing cars. Monteverdi had built Switzerland's first F1 car by 1961. Racing cars were not Monteverdi's only interest, though. As an official dealer of Ferrari, Lancia, and BMW, Monteverdi developed an appreciation for fine road cars. He began to produce grand touring cars of high quality, which featured styling by Frua and power by Chrysler. These 1960's GT cars earned Monteverdi a reputation for building excellent automobiles.

Monteverdi's GT offerings, though, were fairly old-fashioned in their design. A pushrod V8 engine and big, elegant bodywork were not ingredients in the recipe for an innovative sports car, so for 1970 Monteverdi decided to prove to the world that he could produce a sophisticated, stylish, and advanced supercar.

Enter, the Monteverdi Hai 450 SS. A mid-engined design, it was created to upstage the world's best. The Chrysler pushrod V8 was still the engine of choice, but with Hemi heads and 450hp at 5,000rpm this was hardly a shortcoming. Twin 4bbl carburetors topped the 7-liter lump, and the compression ratio was a high 10.25:1. Torque was rated at 490 ft-lbs at 4,000rpm.

The longitudinally-mounted engine drove a ZF 5-speed transaxle that sent power to the rear wheels. An ideal suspension setup was provided by coil springs and wishbones at the front, and a De Dion axle at the rear. Braking was by ATE vented disc brakes all around, with the rear units mounted inboard to reduce unsprung weight. All of the mechanical bits were contained within a steel body wrapped around a steel tubular frame.

The styling, by Fissore of Italy, was attractive and exotic, perfect for the Swiss supercar. The look was reminiscent of the DeTomaso Mangusta, a car with which the Hai shared more than just styling similarities. The Mangusta's body was also styled in Italy, by Ghia instead of Fissore. DeTomaso's sports car was powered by a big American V8, though from Ford and not Chrysler. The Mangusta transmitted its power through a ZF 5-speed just like the Hai. DeTomaso didn't need to worry about the Hai 450 SS stealing any customers away from the Mangusta, though, as only one was made.

Monteverdi produced the Hai 450 SS for the 1970 Geneva Auto Show. The company planned to produce 49 copies of the Hai, but no customers would place orders on the astronomically expensive cars so further production could not be pursued. There were three other Hai cars made, but none to 450 SS specifications. The second featured a lengthened wheelbase and was named 450 GTS. The final two were produced in the early 1990's, after the Monteverdi company's end, from remaining factory parts.

The one and only Hai 450 SS is now in excellent condition. Its owner as of 2006 decided to treat the vehicle to a full restoration, returning the car to its original state after a string of European owners had each left their mark on the car. With performance as sharp as a Swiss Army knife's blade, the Monteverdi Hai 450 SS proves that Switzerland's attention to detail permeated what little the country had in the way of an auto industry.

Sources:

'1970 Monteverdi Hai 450SS.' Fantasy Junction n. pag. Web. 7 Jan 2010. http://www.fantasyjunction.com/cars/702-Monteverdi-Hai%20450SS-Hemi%20V8.

'1970 Monteverdi Hai 450 SS.' Supercars.net n. pag. Web. 7 Jan 2010. http://www.supercars.net/cars/3920.html.

Ullrich, Tobias. 'Monteverdi-History of the Company.' TobiasUllrich.de n. pag. Web. 7 Jan 2010. http://www.tobiasullrich.de/monteverdi/history/page2.html.

By Evan Acuña

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