The story of the failed Swiss supercar Monteverdi Hai 450 SS | Taza Khabre

Key findings

  • The Monteverdi Hai 450 SS was a concept designed to compete with the top supercars of the 70s, but was a commercial failure.
  • The 450 SS was powered by a Chrysler V8 engine and was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show.
  • Monteverdi’s attempt to revive the concept with the 450 GTS followed the original prototype but remained a concept.


In the upper part supercar Hierarchy, there are familiar names that have managed to stay at the top, building a reputation based on heritage and innovation. Ferrari and Lamborghini come to mind instantly. There are, of course, Maserati, Aston Martin, Jaguar. Monteverdi? There’s a good reason why this name might surprise many enthusiasts. Most people who imagine Switzerland will think of rolling hills, chalets, cheese and, of course, the trusty utility knife.


But in the 60s, Peter Monteverdi’s company decided to produce a car performance that can take on the best in the business. To find out what the Hai 450 SS is and why it’s not a household name today, YouTube channel Rare cars dives into this interesting fragment of European automotive history.


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The Hai 450 SS could have been the automotive Swiss army knife

In the video above, courtesy of Rare Cars, we have a fairly simple look at the timeline and events that eventually led to the creation of Monteverdi’s supercar concept – the Monteverdi Hai 450 SS. “Hai” stands for “Shark” and “450” ​​stands for the car’s estimated power output, but “SS” doesn’t stand for “Super Sport” but rather “Super Short” (wheelbase). You’ll notice we refer to the Hai 450 SS as a concept, as it unfortunately remains. But Monteverdi’s idea was bright and partly arose out of Ferrari’s frustration.

Just as the video reminds us, the company has operated as a supercar dealer outside of its home country of Switzerland, with the enviable status of Ferrari’s official importer in the territory since 1957. From there, the business grew to include other brands.


After being disappointed, especially with Ferrari, Peter started working on his own supercar that could compete with the biggest names in the business, including the giant from Maranello. It already produced its own cars and continued to produce badged cars throughout the 70s. But the 1970 Monteverdi Hai 450 was different – ​​it was in a league of its own at Monteverdi and sat at the top of the heap above the Italian elite.

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A look at the design of the Monteverdi Hai 450 SS

Monteverdi chose an elegant Italian body that could compete with the big supercars from Italy, with a mid-engine and rear-wheel drive. The wild card, of course, was what could theoretically give this powerful car the edge it needed – an all-American Hemi engine.


Peter decided to use the Chrysler V8 also because he had already used the 440-ci ‘Magnum’ and 427′ Hemi in other Monteverdi luxury cars. Fans of American muscle cars know that the Chrysler Hemi could reliably develop 425 hp. in such top-of-the-line cars as the Dodge Charger. Its high power and torque could theoretically provide a figure of “450 hp.” for a new supercar.

The finished concept was shown at the Geneva Motor Show and it really looked stunning; long, curvaceous and sleek, similar to a Lamborghini Miura or a Ferrari 365 GTC4. At the back, the design becomes more innovative, and as we can see in the images above, passengers share space with the American V8 right between their shoulders. Even with the lid on, it must have been loud and hot. The Rare Cars video suggests that the car had all the right components and design to be a great car, including an approximate 50:50 weight distribution.


Peter Monteverdi claimed a 5-second 0-60 mph time and a top speed of 180 mph, but in testing (conducted by Paul Frere, racer and journalist) it was more like 7 seconds and almost 170 mph. Below we look at how the Hai 450 SS compares to two of its modern competitors of the time. Although the Hai’s power output is better, its horsepower figure was almost a third less when calculated in “pure hp”.

Technical characteristics Monteverdi Hai 450 SS / Lamborghini Miura / Ferrari 365 GTC4

Monteverdi Hai 450 SS

Lamborghini Miura

Ferrari 365 GTC4

Engine

7 liter, NA Hemi V8

3.9 L, NA V12

4.4 liter, NA V12

power

450 hp (350 hp pure SAE)

345-380 hp

340 hp

Transmission

Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive

Engine in the rear, rear-wheel drive

Front engine, rear drive

Method of transmission

5-speed manual gearbox

5-speed manual gearbox

5-speed manual gearbox

Data courtesy of Rare Cars, Lamborghini, Ferrari

Conclusions from the section above

  • The Hai 450 SS was convincing on paper, but in reality its design was bold and seductive
  • Contemporary rivals were theoretically within reach of the 450 SS, even if its Hemi V8 power was calculated on a net output system
  • Monteverdi’s Hemi V8 was an innovative solution that could provide great performance and reliability for the Swiss supercar


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This is what happened to the Monteverdi Hai 450 SS

When the concept appeared at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, it didn’t mean a bunch of checks or promises to buy. Petro did not receive any orders, judging by the video above. Monteverdi’s dream died at that moment and would never go any further. Many would find the design and concept incredible, but perhaps the icon on the front panel put people off.

It is also possible that the brand lacked the heritage and experience of building supercars. The equivalent of over $200,000 was also cool. The original car also had a problem in terms of performance – it was relatively heavy, especially with the big block Hemi in the middle.


Two more models were built and are housed at the Monteverdi Museum, and Rare Cars says the original Hai 450 SS would have passed from owner to auction more than once. Until 1992, when the brand tried again with the Hai 650 F1. It was supposed to be a Formula 1 road car, a supercar that would compete with the Ferrari F40. Despite its bold design, 650-horsepower Ford-Cosworth V8 and Monteverdi’s vision, it will follow a similar path to the Hai 450 SS.

The Hai 450 GTS was too little too late

The Monteverdi 450 GTS was the second step in the improvement of the Hai 450 and small improvements made it faster. 0-60mph was now closer to the 5-second mark and a higher top speed of over 180mph was now also claimed. Power was increased to 450 hp and, according to Monteverdi, it had reduced weight thanks to increased use of aluminum in the drivetrain. A slightly longer wheelbase increased the interior space. We also see unique GTS wheels and revised styling that includes a two-tone look and “Monteverdi” lettering on the rocker panels.


Peter Monteverdi died in 1998 in Switzerland, never realizing his dream of building a supercar to rival the biggest brands in the business. There could be something incredible, and judging by history, it was not particularly lacking. The Hemi V8 would probably prove to be a reliable weapon, and the 450’s styling was full of Italian soul. Maybe it was bad timing, bad marketing, or just plain bad luck.

Technical characteristics of Monteverdi Hai 450 GTS

Monteverdi Hai 450 GTS

Engine

7 liter, NA Hemi V8

power

450 hp

Transmission

Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive

Method of transmission

5-speed manual gearbox

Main characteristics of Monteverdi Hai 450 GTS

  • The Monteverdi Hai 450 GTS was a subtle evolution of the Hai 450 SS with incremental improvements
  • Its exterior was distinguished by a radical two-tone look and unique wheels
  • Today, other classic Monteverdi cars still fetch significant sums at auction, as we can see in the Classic.com auction report


Sources: Rare Cars, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Classic.com

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