Monteverdi Safari

Monteverdi Safari in Lenzerheide 1978

The Monteverdi Safari was an SUV of Swiss automaker Monteverdi, which was produced 1976-1982 in greater numbers. A sister car was the Monteverdi Sahara, which was produced only in single copies. The safari was Monteverdi's most successful model.

History of development

Trigger for the development of the Safari was the first oil crisis in the mid-1970s, collapsed as a consequence of the sale of large, expensive sports cars. This was also true for Monteverdi produced since 1968, high-speed 375 - series, of which 1974 a little more than 30 copies and one year even only 20 vehicles were sold later. 1974 and 1975 there was Monteverdi - like many other manufacturers of luxury vehicles, but also - in a serious economic crisis, which put the company's existence seriously questioned. In view of these developments, Peter Monteverdi was of the view that his company could only survive if he could, in the future offer new, cheaper vehicles and thereby open up larger segment of buyers. The idea to achieve this goal through an expansion of the market for SUVs, Monteverdi was given the success of the British Range Rover, which has been offered since 1970 and its sales figures have remained largely stable even during the oil crisis.

As early as 1974, Peter Monteverdi was first employed with an SUV. For the Vienna International Harvester importer he had an International Harvester Scout provided with an upgraded interior and slightly outside the vehicle alienated. The model, which was a unique piece, had no visible similarities with the later Safari. Through this project, Monteverdi was, however, aware of the scout, whose compact size almost equivalent to those of the Range Rover and the very reason was for the European market of particular appeal.

Peter Monteverdi developed the Safari during the year 1975. Workshop drew the basic concept of the Range Rover, whose layout and dimensions he took essentially for his own SUV. Like this, even the safari was a four-seat, two-door off-road vehicle with high quality equipment and large motors. Peter Monteverdi did not keep close to his safari to the Range Rover. He flirted rather by claiming that the reason for the construction of the Safari was the only been ( to be true ) fact that the Range Rover British Leyland not with an automatic transmission have been able to deliver.

The safari took a far greater extent than the high-speed 375 - series technical components of large series. This allowed the development and production costs are considerably reduced, so that the sale price was significantly lower than that of previous developed by Monteverdi completely self sports car. Nevertheless, it was at the Safari still a high-priced car. In 1980, he was sold for a price of 65,000 DM. So he lay on the level of the coupe Mercedes- Benz 500 SLC, exceeding the price of a fully equipped Range Rover by 50 percent.

The vehicle

The Monteverdi Safari used the chassis and drive technology of the International Scout II

Peter Monteverdi had in 1975 designed a frame made of square tubes, where the safari should be built. The first prospectus, which was issued at the Geneva Motor Show in 1977, showed a picture of this self-construction, combined with the indication that Monteverdi's solid frame forms the technical basis of the new SUV. In fact, Monteverdi's chassis design, however, was not used in the series production. Instead took Monteverdi, the standard chassis of the International Scout II The reasons for this decision are not clear. Some sources believe that it was Monteverdi not been able to find a company that was able to produce the required amount of chassis. Italian sources from the 1990s, however, report that the series production of its own chassis was simply too expensive for Peter Monteverdi; the use of the standard American construction was thereafter much cheaper.

Other components, which took over from the Safari International Scout, were composed of rigid axles front and rear existing chassis, the ( switchable ) all-wheel drive, the transmission, differential, brakes and power-assisted steering.

The body of the safari was, however, entirely independently. Peter Monteverdi had designed the structure of her own,. It was a smooth-faced, aligned with the European flavor combination design with two doors, were taken for the numerous attachments of different large-scale manufacturers. The glazing and ( shared ) tailgate came from the Range Rover, the headlights of the Fiat 125 Special T, the taillights of the Peugeot 504 Break, and the seats as well as parts of the bumpers came from BMW. The Safari was available as an option as a security vehicle with a ( light ) armor. In addition to the standard, two-door version and a four-door model was produced which was a single piece and today stands in Monteverdi Automobile Museum. Another unique piece was an open safari, which was equipped with a removable soft top.

Inside Monteverdi put value on sportiness and luxury. Sporting instrumentation and full equipment made ​​the car a preferred vehicle for wealthy customers. As standard, the sports seats upholstered in leather; wish there was a leather interior. Single units were equipped with additional components such as voice recorder and TV.

The engines referred Monteverdi initially from Chrysler; in the last years of production of the safari, however, the standard engines from International Harvester were used.

  • From 1976 to 1978, a 5.2 -liter eight-cylinder engine from Chrysler was offered, which made ​​160 hp.
  • Alternatively stood from 1976 to 1977 an enlarged 5.9 liter version of this engine with 180 hp.
  • From 1978, a 7.2 -liter eight-cylinder with 305 hp could be ordered instead of the 5.9 liter engine. With him was the Safari the most motorized European SUVs and, as the weight was significantly lower than the American competitors such as the Plymouth Trailduster or Chevrolet Blazer, the fastest road car of its time. From the 7.2 -liter version came only seven copies. They were sold mainly to customers in the Middle East.
  • From 1978, the 5.2 -liter Chrysler engine was replaced by a 5.7 ​​-liter eight-cylinder International Harvester, which made ​​165 hp and better adapted Monteverdi 's view on off-road use was as the Chrysler engines. The torque amounted to almost 400 Nm.
  • Finally, there are reports of a single piece that should have been equipped with a 3.2 -liter diesel engine from Nissan, which delivered 95 bhp (70 kW). Evidence for this does not exist. Secured is only that a single Monteverdi Sahara was equipped with this diesel engine.

The vast majority of Safaris was equipped with an automatic transmission; only a few models left the factory with a manual gearbox.

The production and market situation today

Peter Monteverdi had initially tried to make the Safari build in Switzerland Saurer; this plan, however, could not be realized. Instead, in turn, took over the Italian body shop Fissore, which had already built Monteverdi sports cars, the production of the safari. To ensure the production of larger quantities, Fissore had to significantly expand its facilities. Monteverdi helped with financial support and took in return considerable amounts of traditional body- corporate. At the latest with the start of production of the safari was Fissore fact dependent of Monteverdi. The build quality was problematic. The safari was very prone to rust, which is due partly to the use of partially defective sheets and partly on incomplete protection against corrosion.

The safari was Monteverdi's most successful model. It could be sold well both in Europe and in the Middle East. However, a paragraph in the United States of America was not considered because of the safari did not comply with U.S. safety regulations. The exact volume of production of the safari is not known. Peter Monteverdi repeatedly spoke of about 3,000 copies; some sources put the production with " several hundred pieces " to. It is likely that the total production (low ) has reached a four-digit numbers.

Few vehicles are today - 30 years after the end of production - ready for use. At least one well-preserved and approved model, there are still in the Rhineland.

Given the limited availability of used car prices are difficult to reproduce. Olditax was 2010 for a safari in good, unrestored condition at a price of 14,000 euros. For restored copies significantly higher prices are charged.


The Monteverdi Safari played in the 1970's in a league of its own. Although the Range Rover was a good and successful car; but he lacked the exclusivity of the safari and the numerous choices, had the Monteverdi customers. Competition grew the Monteverdi Safari only in Switzerland itself:

  • Willy Felber in Morges on Lake Geneva attacked Monteverdi's on concept and created also on the basis of International Harvester Scout model Oasis. Unlike Monteverdi Felber took over the body of the Scout largely unchanged and only installed a striking wedge-shaped front end. The major changes took place under the sheet metal. Felber installed any desired by the customer engine - in one case the eight-cylinder engine of a Rolls- Royce - and upgraded the interior with expensive leather and various shenanigans on considerably. These vehicles, however, were not intended for quantities that wanted to achieve Monteverdi. Felber produced in five years about 30 copies of the Oasis.
  • Even more exclusive were the SUVs of Franco Sbarro, who had the eye-catching models Windhound (with two axes) and Windhawk constructed ( three axes). In this case it was purely unique specimens, which were built on customer request.
  • The German car manufacturer Bitter took Monteverdi's concept for 1976 presented Bitter Blazer, an SUV based on the Chevrolet Blazer, via a Europeanized front end ( with lighting units from the Opel Admiral B ) and a modified interior possessed. The Bitter Blazer remained unique.

Only later, after the production of the safari was already set, also occupied the niche of the other manufacturers luxury SUV. In that regard, the Safari - even more than the initially quite rustic Range Rover - as a precursor of the Mercedes -Benz G-Class and similar vehicles are considered.