My experience and ownership of Alfas goes way back to 1968. At that time in the U.S. most everyone was fearful of Italian cars because the Sales and Service network was so thin. If a person was not wealthy he would be wise to learn how to maintain the car himself, which is exactly what I did. Weaned on American cars, I initially learned the cheap way, on Fiats, then jumped into my first Alfa, a Giulia Super. I was hooked. Various Alfas, Lancias, and a Lotus followed (I was learning a lot!), but once I saw a photo of a Montreal in the 1970s I was really hooked!
Montreals were never offered in the U.S. by Alfa Romeo, so obtaining one was not going to be easy, or cheap. Some would say "foolhardy" is the correct description, but after years of rebuilding Alfa cars as a hobby, I was ready to leap. The first one I saw was the blue one now owned by Delmas Greene. It had just arrived from Belgium (with questionable papers) in my little town of Roswell, Georgia. It had a quick blue paint job over some rust, so I waited. The next Montreal I saw, years later, was the beautiful true French Blue one owned by Peter Diamantes. After seeing Peter's car I could not wait to buy a Montreal, even though every Montreal in the U.S. has a questionable "story" behind it! All Montreals were "supposed to be" modified to strict U.S. Government regulations. The reality is often different.
My wife is not a car enthusiast by any description. To this day she is fearful, disinterested in even riding in any of my cars (certainly not on one of my motorcycles!). She does not understand the attraction, the enthusiasm. Nevertheless, one day in 1998 she told me, "Look what I found on the Internet!", and it was a Montreal - - THE Montreal I subsequently bought. She pledged never to tell me about cars again.
Montreal No. 1428787 was in the CARS OF YESTERYEAR Museum in Sarasota, Florida. The new owner of the museum was selling off most of the foreign cars. No. 1428787 looked pretty good, but I soon found it it had holes in the exhaust, and the alternator did not work. The car had been imported in 1987 from Germany by a Mr. Franklin Garnett of Newport News, Virginia. How it ended up resting in the museum in Florida, nearly 1500 miles away is a mystery, especially since the car was still titled to Mr. Garnett! It had been painted the usual AR521 red at some point in time, as Elvira Ruocco told me later it was originally AR741 silver. (It must be the only red Montreal with the gray, red, and black interior!) The museum owner was asking a fair price, but I offered $4000. less, and he said "yes"! He also had a set of four Borrani wire wheels, with tires and hub adapters for the car, at $1500. which I bought later. (They did not look right on the car, so I sold them.)
My friend and I drove all night to get that car home (600+ miles), with a bad alternator and serious exhaust fumes inside. That was an adventure! We never stopped the engine. We had learned that certain businesses had an electrical box on their parking lot lighting poles, so we stopped regularly to plug in a battery charger, and to get some sleep. I think the carbon monoxide helped us to sleep. We are both still alive today!
I bought No. 1428787 because it had nice paint and NO RUST. The problems were mechanical which I enjoy fixing. I have rebuilt the front and rear suspensions, new exhaust, Koni shocks, installed a Harvey-Bailey handling kit, a Crane electronic ignition, rebuilt the fuel pumps and wiring, cleaned and restored the fuel tank, and many other small things. I had Compomotive in England build a special set of wheels for the car, which are perfectly matched with 205/60 Yokohama tires. With all these "fixes" my Montreal is a joy to drive, the power is just enough for this size car, and it is now thoroughly dependable. My only other "adventure" was blowing out a front tire at 115mph while racing a Camaro.
Until 2009 I had four Bertone cars (and one Zagato). Two of the Bertone cars are gone. I will never sell the Montreal (or the Zagato).
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