The new 1972 Montreal luxury sports car was not available anywhere in Canada or elsewhere in the North American market place, at least not as a new car, and you can blame emission and safety regulations for that. There were only 3,917 Montreal models manufactured with currently around 100 units in the Americas and about 12 of those in California. One of these Alpha’s was unveiled at the 1967 world’s fair in Montreal, a party atmosphere prevails, with Canada also celebrating the 100th anniversary of its inception into confederation that year. The public loved the car but the only place on the vehicle where you will see any reference to “Montreal” is on the ashtray cover but the moniker stuck. The two seated Alpha was touted as “Man’s highest aspiration in the automotive field” during the eight month long exposition. The displayed prototype was designed in a Bertone studio by Marcello Gandini the man responsible for the iconic 1966 Lamborghini Miura. Some of its features are incorporated into the Montreal such as the “B” pillars vents and the green house lines, although Gandini added the “eye lashes” for the headlights, non-functional hood scoop, and speed strakes rearwards of the doors-they are exclusive to the Montreal. The suspension, frame and other underpinnings are actually much the same as any other Alpha from that era. The main reason a new version was never marketed here was Alpha Romeo’s short shortsightedness by not complying with regulations and also possibly had something to do with organized labour problems in Italy around that time.
The labor unrest in Italy with tire burnings and such going on around the Bertone studio, also at the Alpha plant delay the Montreal’s production. The next time the Montreal appears is at the Geneva Auto Show in 1970 and it is 1971 before the Montreal begins showing up in driveways everywhere; except the Americas but the car was worth waiting for. The exotic looking automobile has a futuristic and eye catching body lines. The interior cockpit gives the feeling of piloting an airplane from the driver’s seat and while cruising around at an idle the exhaust has a rumbling tone. The car wakes up and is most delightful to operate when it is being driven hard and the operator is running through the gears at high rpm this is when the engine roars to life
Under the hood is an all aluminum dry sump fuel injected 2593 cc (2.59 L) V8 engine developing 147 kW (197 hp). This front mounted engine has a torque peak of 235 nM (173 ft-lb) at 4,700 rpm. Like other DOHC V8 engines the Montreal has four camshafts but these are unique to this engine unlike any other Alpha as well. The power plant is bolted to a five speed standard ZF transmission with a dog’s leg first gear to avoid errors while speed shifting. The power is transferred to the rear wheels through a limited slip rear end. The suspension and frame are like the sport designed 105 series but are beefed up to handle the extra torque from the high powered engine. Both the front and rear suspension are height adjustable to get the best ride and handling characteristics’ they are obtained with the front end low on a firm setting and the rear higher but a softer setting for better traction. The car corners well with very little roll in the corners and it is not long before you are in-touch with the cars strengths; brake in a straight line-float towards the curves apex then gradually accelerating through the corners to maximize traction-inspire confidence in the automobile and your driving abilities